I am finding a crucial balance between studying the text (which is primary, of course) and studying your people — and not just the people in your congregation but also in your community. This morning, we had the privilege of doing what we call our Athens Neighborhood Blitz. We aimed to put an ESV New Testament, John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Christ Had to Die, a church flyer, and a VBS flyer in every home within a mile of our church. With a few exceptions, we succeeded — and in the process got the rush of being obedient to the Great Commission.
Preachers must understand basic hermeneutics, for sure. We must certainly “rightly divid[e] the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). But if you read the Apostle Paul’s letters, his heart beat for his people. He would address a specific issue at the beginning of his epistles, then would give some greetings at the end peppered with particular comments and instructions. Paul made it a priority to know his people as well. I suppose that is why I find myself content at a smaller church of 160-170. I have the opportunity to get to know the people here at Boone’s Creek. With that comes heartaches as well simply because you are more aware of individual issues.
There is a relative safety and comfort for the preacher who only studies His books and commentaries. But no where in the New Testament do we see the ministers cloistered away from the people. No, like Jesus, the apostles went to where the people were — and so must we.
One minister noted that he wished there were a vacuum tube going from his study to the pulpit and back. The implication is there — he wanted this so he wouldn’t have to be disturbed by people.
So the question is: can one be a great preacher but a terrible pastor? Are these two mutually exclusive? What think ye? (I think you already know what I think on the matter.)