What is Preaching?

What is preaching? We might say that there are as many definitions of preaching as there are theologians. And believe it or not, everyone at some level is a theologian.

C.H. Dodd has a simple definition in his book,” The Apostolic Preaching and it's Developments.” He says,” preaching is the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world.”

The Idea of ‘primitive preaching’ is a foundational premise which tries to discover the first gospel preached by the apostles.To examine primitive preaching click here.

In our contemporary world authentic preaching or should I say ‘primitive preaching’ may be difficult to observe. What qualifies as preaching today would certainly have been unrecognizable in the days just after the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

It would have been unrecognizable because in that day the content of the message was simply the kerygma (birth, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ). The apostles in that day also preached “the kingdom of God.”

“It was by kerygma, says Paul, not by didache, that it pleased God to save men.” Much of what is said from our pulpits today would qualify as teaching or exhortation and not kerygmatic proclamation.

And so it should be, for most homilies are informal discussions of various aspects of Christian life and thought, addressed to a congregation already established in faith.

Therefore, persons learning to preach the kerygma ought to begin with the Synoptic Gospels and in the fullness of time they will be prepared to preach (pastor) from the epistles.

As a point of clarification, pastoring is more than preaching the primitive gospel. There is so much unseen and unknown in a congregation to an associate preacher as well as others that when preaching one should be cautious about everything preached from his own home pulpit.

The apostle Paul spent a considerable amount of time pastoring many of the gentile churches he established. Most associate preachers and preachers in training recognize that pastoring is most demanding and time-consuming. So with fear and trembling we work out our own soul’s salvation in the ministry to which God has called us.

There are a few other terms that those who are in this work of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be familiar with. Here are some terms that will inform your understanding:

  • kerygma--- To preach
  • keryssein ---to proclaim
  • keryx------- a town crier, auctioneer, a herald--
  • didaskein--- teachings
  • paraklesis----teaching, exhortation
  • homilia------teaching, exhortation

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