Preaching and Pastoral Care (3)
CONCLUSION: PREACHING AND REACHING
Forsyth says that “Not all that is said from a pulpit is preaching. If we are to preach with Gospel effect to our time we must give up the idea of dragging men back to the dogmas of Scholastic Protestantism.” He declares that “It is fruitless to offer to the public the precise modes of thought which were so fresh and powerful with the Reformers.” Preaching is the today word of God given to people today, not the old word given in an old way in old language with old expectations.
Does the gospel preach itself through us with power? Are our sermons “action-sermons”? “The preacher’s power lies in appropriation, and his work is largely to assist the Church to a fresh appropriation of its own gospel,” says Forsyth. If preaching cannot be relevant and real to God’s own people, how will it ever be relevant, real, prophetic or meaningful to the world outside?
In Jesus, preaching and pastoral care were united and in harmony, it was a happy marriage. That assumes we call what Jesus did as preaching, of course. In the passage from Mark which began this paper, Jesus taught the crowds; but his teaching flowed without interruption into pastoral care as he concerned himself with the physical needs of the people. It is interesting how often Jesus taught his disciples about caring and loving people, yet he did not seem as burdened to train them in preaching!
Those who reach must also preach, and those who preach must also reach. “Will the 21st-century church dare to recover the Christ-centred radicalism of the first Christian generation?” asks Warner. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s mass evangelistic crusades in Nigeria (as in Africa generally) attracted vast crowds to hear him and receive from God. Let me quote at length from a report on the Nigerian crusades that highlights the people’s desperate situation, the good news preached by Bonnke and the pastoral care that follows:
“Seven degrees above the equator, where children in the brutal African sun forage in fields of rotting garbage, great expectations were building: Reinhard Bonnke, the larger-than-life evangelist from Germany, had come to town again. That evening, 550,000 people gathered on 80 acres of bare ground to listen to Bonnke, a pastor’s son with an unquenchable thirst for Africa’s lost souls. Spiritually hungry Nigerians—whose lives are bounded by poverty, violence, and an unforgiving climate—could hardly wait to feast on the good news the preacher promised to bring. Bonnke completed his gospel message and then prayed for the sick who had come seeking a miracle. In a country where basic healthcare is available only to the very few who can afford it, medical needs are an unending concern. Although many of Bonnke’s critics doubt that his crusade will have a lasting effect on Lagos, most agree that if it does happen, it will be because of the strength that local churches exhibit by discipling new believers in their faith. The majority of this responsibility will fall on the 2,000-plus churches that worked with CFAN to host the Lagos crusade last fall.”
Those who preach must surely preach to the whole person. Those who care must care for the whole person. Those who love must love as Jesus loved. With privilege comes responsibility. With the greatest privilege comes the greatest responsibility. Preaching and pastoral care cannot be divorced without serious damage to both. What God has joined let no-one separate.
Editors: Sinclair B Freguson and David F Wright, New Dictionary Of Theology, (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press, 1988)
Editors: Joel B Green and Scot McKnight, Dictionary Of Jesus And The Gospels, (Leicester, Inter-Varisity Press, 1992)
Corrie Cutrer, ‘Come and Receive Your Miracle’, Christianity Today Online on the Internet at: http://ChristianityToday.com
P T Forsyth, Positive Preaching And The Modern Mind, (Carlisle, Paternoster Publishing, 1998)
Eddie Gibbs, Church Next, (Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 2000)
Dr John Goldingay, ‘The Spirituality Of Preaching’, The Expository Times, Vol 98, No. 7, April 1987
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching And Preachers, (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1998)
Bruce Milne, Know The Truth, (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press, 1982)
S Pattison, A Critique Of Pastoral Care, (London, SCM, 1988)
Derek Prime, Pastors And Teachers, (Surrey, Highland Books, 1989)
John Stott, I Believe In Preaching, (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1982)
Derek J Tidball, Skilful Shepherds, (Leicester, Apollos, 1997)
Rob Warner, 21st-Century Church, (Revised & Expanded Edition), Eastbourne, Kingsway Publications, 1999