There has been a good deal said and written about expository preaching, Christ-centered preaching, redemptive-historical preaching, etc., but very little has been said about pastoral preaching. Pastoral preaching is at the heart of true pastoral ministry. It’s expository, based on biblical hermeneutics and Christ-centered, but it goes further. Pastoral preaching is directed to a particular local church. It requires Christlike holiness of the preacher and aims to shepherd a church in the same. Consider some of the qualities of a pastoral preacher.
1. The pastoral preacher’s sanctification is his main task in sermon preparation.
Certainly, the preacher needs to study his text and do all of the technical work required to prepare to preach the Word faithfully. But the pastoral preacher knows that his strength and sincerity in the pulpit are tightly tied to his own life of communion with Christ. He prepares to preach Christ, not as a detached academician, but as one who is growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ personally.
All week long, the pastoral preacher prepares as a “whole man,” loved, taught, and ruled by Christ in his mind, heart, and will in every part of his life. During particularly busy weeks, when he’s had less time to study for his sermon, God will often carry him in the pulpit, if he has been faithful to walk with Christ. His sincerity, love to Christ, and love for the church is basic to pastoral preaching.
2. The pastoral preacher’s first responsibility during sermon delivery is his own personal holiness.
While preaching a sermon, the pastoral preacher aims to love God and love men. That is, he strives to obey both tables of the Ten Commandments by humble faith in Christ. Practically speaking, this means that while he’s preaching, he’s somewhat self-forgetful in the pulpit. More than anything, while he’s preaching, he’s thinking about the good of the church and the glory of God. His faith and love for God and His people issue in sincere conviction and humble boldness in the truth.
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Tom Hicks serves as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Clinton, LA. He's married to Joy, and they have four children: Sophie, Karlie, Rebekah, and David. He received his MDiv and PhD degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a major in Church History, emphasis on Baptists, and with a minor in Systematic Theology. Tom is the author of The Doctrine of Justification in the Theologies of Richard Baxter and Benjamin Keach (PhD diss, SBTS). He serves on the board of directors for Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary and is an adjunct professor of historical theology for the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies.