Ed Stetzer relays some of the data from a recent Lifeway survey of Southern Baptist pastors about what they think is important in ministry.
Preaching/Proclamation garnered 10% of the vote, which was good for fourth place. It came in behind evangelism/outreach (24%), Sunday school/Bible study/small groups (17%), and worship and worship services (13%), and just in front of children’s/student ministry (9%).
In a question looking for the “top five ministries that are critical to the mission, future health and progress of our church,” preaching/proclamation/teaching was listed only by 20%. That was eighth out of nine. Interestingly, it was followed only by prayer/prayer ministry/prayer groups.
[Sidenote: One is led to wonder of the HCSB omitted Acts 6:4 about devoting ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.]
The devaluation of preaching the word is nothing new. It has been unpopular for a long time. But it used to be unpopular primarily among those outside the church and some of the congregation. Now it is apparently getting unpopular among the pastors as well.
Yesterday I was listening to a message by Mark Dever on pastors where he affirms that the main job of a pastor is that of preaching the word.
Somehow, Dever seems closer to the biblical teaching than the survey respondents do.
I must confess some “category interest.” Why is “preaching/proclamation/teaching” separate from “Evangelism/outreach” or “Sunday school/small groups/Bible study” or “discipleship/spiritual growth/mentoring/counseling”? In fact, why is it different than “worship and specific worship services”?
Do these categories reveal some approaches to ministry that are, in and of themselves, unhealthy and unhelpful? I think they might.
Perhaps this is indicative of why churches are spiritual anemic and biblically illiterate.