Over the years, since I have been converted, I have observed that many sections of the professing Christian church have sought to rename and rebrand the act of "preaching". It is as if everything needs to be revisited every generation to attempt to improve the "state of play", but is the Bible the source of these changes? Words are important, just ask any government, lawyer or marketing company. Words frame action. For example, sometimes preaching is rebranded as "sharing" or a more popular notion is that of giving "talks". But, do these phrases produce a different mode and style of communication for the church?
If we look briefly at the five commissions given by the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ in the four Gospels and Acts, we will discover what are the commands he has given for his church.
1. To teach (Matthew 28:19)
2. Proclaim (Mark 16:15)
3. Proclaim (Luke 24:47)
4. Feed my sheep (21:17)
5. You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)
Therefore, the primary actions in making known the truth of the gospel and to feed God's sheep is through teaching, which is explanation with clarity, and preaching which is declarative. Preaching conveys the idea of authority, it is a message from God to be heralded, to be proclaimed and then to be received by the hearers. There is a judgment from God upon those who persist in refusing the call of the preached gospel, which is to repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). For those who refuse to repent, they will die in their sins and endure eternal punishment from God Almighty.
My question is: Why would we want to exchange the language of the Lord Jesus, that of "preaching and teaching" for very different words. Jesus did not say to his church "go into all the world and "give talks" or go and "lead discussion groups" or go and "share my love". He could of, but he did not.
Perhaps the issue is bound up with authority and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and his written Scriptures. I do not believe that anything can substitute the act of preaching of the gospel, for the benefit of the church and of the world. Nothing else truly satisfies the inner-desires of sheep than the preaching of sound doctrine. We thank God for the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, but they must always be accompanied with preaching and teaching. Do you go to a church that is committed to preaching? If not, are you really being fed spiritually? May we pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers who would "preach in season and out of season" (Matthew 9:38 and 2 Timothy 4:2).