What is the importance of preaching?
Recently a small group of us were listening to this talk by Peter Adam from the 1993 Senior Ministers Conference. The purpose of our gathering was to explore the question "what is the importance of preaching?" – and Peter Adam very helpfully addresses this by asking what it is that preaching does that other forms of Bible teaching don't. Here are some of the answers he came up with:
* Christian truth is public truth – so there's something uniquely appropriate about declaring it in a public gathering at which anyone may wander in and hear it
* Preaching is the bringing of the word of God to the people of God – only in preaching can the whole gathering be addressed at once and receive God's word together as a united congregation. Peter Adam's contention is that "what preaching does is what the Bible intends to do" – for the Bible is primarily addessed to the congregation and not to the individual. Preaching becomes an exciting moment where the Bible begins to do what God gave it for.
What was slightly surprising was the amount of resistance he appeared to get from his audience back in 1993 – perhaps an indication of the extent to which the priority of preaching has been consistently under attack in our culture. Today, even in places where there is a great commitment to word ministry in general, we can still be quite vague on why preaching in particular matters so much.
What do you think? What is so special about preaching, and why is it important to fight to preserve its place in the life of our churches?