A Friday Question – Pastoral Preaching?

April 6, 2007

An interesting issue raised by Tim Keller’s interview was the relationship between pastoral care and preaching. Keller suggested that preachers should prepare themselves for the sermons not only by studying the text but by being with their people. I totally agree.


However, I can personally say I’ve witnessed extremes with this. On the one hand, the pastor who is a virtual recluse, a stranger to his people who only appears for the duration of the sermon. Or, equally common, the pastor so immersed in people-work that his preparation is merely ‘squeezed in’ around other more important matters.

Another factor impinging on the dynamic is what kind of staff team is in place. For example, In the pastoral team of which I’m part, some of us major more on preaching than, say, pastoral visitation (though the former is not neglected). Others major more on pastoral care, but preach on some occasions.

In light of all this, I’ve got a few questions to throw out:

1) Can pastors preach effectively without their giving significant attention to pastoral care?

2) Practically, how do you pastors divide time given to pastoral care and preaching?

3) To what extent can a team ministry legitimately affect this (eg. John Piper is the Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church)?

(ps. the handsome man pictured above is a pastoral colleague of mine, Rev Rodney Stout. Rodney currently heads up Pastoral Care in our fellowship)



  1. I think all that pastors are busy because they have to prepare two sermons this week. Either normal Sunday sermon and a sunrise sermon; or a normal Sunday sermon and a Good Friday sermon or perhaps even a normal Sunday Sermon and a Maundy Thursday sermon. I have been a part of all three traditions and I like the sunrise service the best.

  2. This doesn’t answer your very practical questions, but I do know that the quality of engagement changes on both sides when the person preaching has been in homes, praying with the people he is preaching to.

    I guess that’s only to add an “Amen!” to the point Tim Keller was making. How that happens can vary enormously! And about #3, if Piper’s (even very current!) sermon illustrations are anything to go by, he’s hardly cloistered in his study all week! 🙂 [Not that you meant to imply that he was, of course.]

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