I have a love for preaching, after all, it’s what I do. I preach the Bible every week, and it’s also what I studied at the masters and doctoral level in seminary, therefore, I have a passion for biblical preaching. I enjoy reading about preachers from history and I’m a student of expository preaching. As I look across the landscape of present day preaching in the evangelical church, I’m concerned by what I often see and hear from certain groups. It seems as if many preachers are ashamed of the title – preacher. J.C. Ryle writes:
There is no office so honorable as that of the preacher. There is no work so important to the souls of men. It is an office which the Son of God was not ashamed to take up. It is an office to which He appointed His twelve apostles. It is an office to which Paul in his old age specially directs Timothy’s attention. He charges him with almost his last breath to “preach the word.” It is the means which God has always been pleased to use above any other, for the conversion and edification of souls. The brightest days of the Church have been those when preaching has been honored. The darkest days of the Church have been those when it has been lightly esteemed. 
In our attempt to become urbane and relevant, many preachers in the evangelical community are replacing preacher with other titles such as Christian communicator, speaker, conference speaker, life coach, and other fancy titles. It seems that many preachers would rather be known for what they write rather than what they do. It seems less messy to be known as a blogger or an author as opposed to a preacher. Perhaps this fad is connected to our post-modern (or post-post-modern) culture that we presently live in where people reject authority. Whatever the specific cause may be, the facts of this tragic downgrade cannot be denied.
I recently reviewed a popular conference’s website and read the biographies of the speakers. The following titles appeared on their website:
- Celebrated international conference speaker
I’m not suggesting that any of these titles are bad (well, except one of them). However, each of these men are invited to a conference to do something. Each one of the men listed on this specific conference are invited to preach. They aren’t called to write books at the conference or pastor the conference. They’re called to preach to the people in attendance at the conference.
Certainly the office of pastor is a great title and it presupposes the work of preaching. However, there seems to be a movement among many younger pastors to avoid the title of preacher. The culture at large is offended by preaching so in order to avoid being rejected, we move away from ancient titles such as preacher and embrace modern titles such as speaker or communicator.
My youngest son is two years old. He is delayed in his speech at the moment and only has a few words in his vocabulary. However, he is not limited in communicating. He communicates with non-verbals and gets his point across clearly. It’s possible to communicate in many different ways through facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language. However, we as proclaimers of God’s gospel are called to preach the Word as Paul made abundantly clear to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
I recall attending a large convention several years ago and when I walked through the exhibit hall, I was extremely uncomfortable. I passed by puppet evangelists, power team evangelists, music evangelists, a gospel ventriloquist, and comedians, but only a few ministries that were focused primarily upon the preaching of the Scriptures. I’m often told that we need to employ methods that are successful in reaching people in our modern society. I’m often told that preaching is on the decline.
If references to preaching numbers over 150 verses in our Bible, it would seem that preaching is indeed important. If Jesus was a preacher, it would seem that being known as a preacher would be a good thing. However, that’s not exactly the case. In some circles, if you call someone a preacher, it might cause them to blush. What’s even more frightening is what Dr. Albert Mohler addressed in a book titled, Feed My Sheep. In his chapter titled, “The Primacy of Preaching,” he wrote, “When you hear people speak about how to grow a church, how to build a church, and how to build a great congregation, few and far between are those who say it comes essentially by the preaching of the Word.” 
Before we turn to other methods for success in ministry, we must think long and hard about Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus was known as a preacher. All through the gospel, we see Jesus preaching and teaching (Mark 1:14, Mark 2:2, Mark 4:1, Mark 6). He wasn’t known as a communicator, a power team evangelist, or a conference speaker. Jesus was a preacher. Jesus preached with authority.
When the pulpit has been the brightest and the church at the greatest health and strength is not when absent of persecution or trials, but when preaching is central. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “True preaching, after all, is God acting. It is not just a man uttering words; it is God using him.”  Why are so many modern preachers too cool to be known as preachers? If we conclude that preaching is indeed on the decline, the answer for the church is not to move away from preaching. The answer for the church is to pursue true, warm, biblical, expository preaching.
- J. C. Ryle, Matthew, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 20–21.
- Albert Mohler, Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching (Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2002), 17.
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 108.