A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the third of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Uniting the Pulpit Ministry of the Word (Preaching/Teaching) and the Personal Ministry of the Word (Biblical Counseling/One-Another Ministry). This series demonstrates that both preaching and biblical counseling are Word-based ministries. While helpful to pastor-teachers, this series is beneficial to everyone who counsels and to everyone who sits under the teaching/preaching of the Word and receives Word-based counsel from others in the Body of Christ. In Part One, Pastor Kevin Carson described how preaching helps counseling. In Part Two, Pastor Steve Viars explained how counseling helps preaching. Now in Part Three, Pastor Kevin Hurt pictures the beautiful synergy that occurs when these two Word-based ministries are united.
I would imagine that when we think of the public preaching of the Word (the pulpit expositional ministry of the Word) that most often takes place in our churches on Sundays and when we think about the topic of counseling (the private ministry of the Word), there is often a disconnect. I would say there are disconnects between the two at several points.
In some people’s minds, the preaching of the Word is one thing and counseling is another thing. To those who see them as distinctly two different and distinct things, and there is a measure of truth to that which I’ll discuss below, the reasoning goes like this: Preaching is something that we all need, but counseling is something that those people who have “real problems and issues” need. Preaching in the pulpit is done by the “preacher,” and counseling is done by the “counselor.” When there is a disconnect between the ministry of the Word in the pulpit and the ministry of the Word in a counseling session, we have failed to see how the two are designed to connect, support, and assist one another.
When we think of the ministry of the Word from the pulpit and the personal ministry of the Word in counseling, we should see them as connected. They are connected by a belief in the all-sufficient and life-changing power of the Word. Both have confidence in the Spirit of God to work in the hearts and lives of those who are hearing the Word of God. The difference in the two is in regards to the “method of delivery,” “the context in which it is delivered,” and the “communication style” when the Word is presented. Let me explain…
To use a Southern cultural concept (which I am part of), I would say that the pulpit ministry of the Word is like firing a shotgun. Through the accurate and faithful exposition of the Word, the Truth is scattered over a diverse group of people. Pellets of the Truth hit those folks who are hearing the Word proclaimed in various ways as the Spirit of God is at work convicting, encouraging, illumining, and empowering them to make change in various areas of their lives. This is indeed a wonderful work as it relates to the public preaching of the Word. Only God could take the clear exposition of His Word and apply it and tailor it to fit the various needs throughout the congregation that is hearing the Word of God.
On the other hand, the private ministry of the Word, also referred to as biblical counseling, is like firing a rifle (there goes my Southern analogy again). Whether it is in a formal setting in a counseling office or in an informal setting at a coffee shop or at someone’s home, specific Truths from God’s Word are now being aimed at specific situations in that person’s personal life and for that specific time in their life. This is something that does not, and I would say cannot, happen in the larger context of the public ministry of the Word.
From the Pastor’s View
As a pastor who is entering his twenty-sixth year of ministry in the same pulpit, I have seen firsthand how these two ministries of the Word work wonderfully together. While I am preaching from the pulpit, I often will notice those in the congregation being affected by the ministry of the Word. My heart goes out to them, and at that moment I want to walk down from the pulpit and ask them, “So what’s going? What is the Lord speaking to you about?” Of course, that is not possible or practical to do.
But on the following day or later in that week, either I will follow up with them or they will connect with me. When we sit down together, the ministry of the Word continues. What God used in the larger context of the ministry of the Word is now continued and deepened as the private and personal ministry of the Word is applied. As we sit down and practically work out how the Truth of God’s Word can be lived out in their life and in their specific situation, further and deeper transformation is taking place. So, as a pastor who by my calling strongly believes in the public ministry of the Word, I have found that I can never separate the private ministry of the Word from my calling. They are truly, by God’s design, two united ministries of the Word.
Join the Conversation
So, let’s hear your story. How have you seen the ministry of the Word from the pulpit and the private ministry of the Word work together? It may be that you are a pastor and you do both. It may be that you sit under the preaching of your pastor and you are called to do biblical counseling. I’d love to hear your stories and how you have seen the public and private ministry of the Word work together.