As I have been involved in pulpit supply, for many years, in various geographical and denominational settings, I have noticed a divergence of expression in describing the ministry of the Word. Some believers describe what they do as a 'speaking engagement' and others speak of 'preaching engagements.' As I have reflected on this, I think there is a need for two things to take place. Firstly, those who have been given this opportunity, need to understand their role in terms of preaching, secondly, we should look for preachers, and not speakers, to deliver the Word of God to His people.
What is the difference between a speaker and a preacher? I'm glad you asked.
According to the Free Dictionary 'Speaking' is defined as follows:
In the bible, however, the ministry of the Word of God is expressed in the following ways: proclamation, preach, preached, preacher, preaches, preaching, proclaim, proclaimed and proclaiming.
The Greek word is kerusso
- to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
- to proclaim after the manner of a herald
- always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
- to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
- used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers
(For more information click here.)
The church has enough 'talkers', and 'conveyers of opinion'. It has no shortage of people who can give an address or 'express themselves' in an articulate manner. However, there is a dearth of preachers. There is a scarcity of those who speak as heralds of the King of Kings; there is a famine in the land, and few there be that speak with 'gravity', 'authority' and in a manner which causes the listeners feel they must listen and obey the message. Speaking engagements are for boys who like toys, preaching engagements are for men who carry fire.
In a day when there is a tendency to use culturally neutral language, a day when the pulpit is replaced with the podium; the pastor with the facilitator; the church with the community and the preacher with the speaker– there is a real danger that we are not only losing the terms, but we are also losing the reality of these unique kingdom functions. Anyone can speak, only Spirit-sent servants can preach.