Work Hard at Preaching and Teaching
Several weeks ago, God brought a passage of Scriptures alive to bring some clarity and direction to my life. The passage is 1 Timothy 5:17, « The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. » The immediate context of this passage is the financial support of elders: however, the implied meaning of this passage is that preaching and teaching is of very high importance. It is so important, in fact, that people who preach and teach for the church are to be given additional support – presumably in order to take more time off from their secular employments to pour extra time and energy into this important task.
As I spent time being influenced by emergent types of resources, my preaching suffered and my life-goals became confused. Specifically, I could not really find a good reason to preach. After all – isn’t preaching just a later invention of the Greek-influenced church? Why do we spend the bulk of our church-time and church-resources preparing for and delivering a one-sided monologue? Where is the give and take, the conversation, the communal-learning? Is this just dead tradition? Is this out-dated? Is this a religious ritual, an empty time-filler?
Furthermore, I am studying to be a professor at a Bible school – but what will I teach there? Why am I spending thousands of dollars and years of my life wading through theology and Bible issues, in an attempt to equip and teach students…only to have them arrive in churches where they will spend most of their time listening to the perspectives of the congregation, and having an « open-ended discussion » about truth?
All of this has been inverted and corrected by God communicating to me through 1 Timothy 5:17. No, preaching is not a later addition to the Christian faith. It was there in the Old Testament, was there from the earliest times of the church, and should remain in the churches.
Although often done poorly, the answer is to learn to do it well, rather than to replace it, for « Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! »