In What Situations Do We Trust God’s Word?

As I’ve been speaking at the Moody Bible Pastors’ Conference on topics related to equipping pastors for pastoral counseling and discipleship, some “dual images” have been coming to mind.

*Preaching and Counseling

*The Pulpit Ministry of the Word and the Personal Ministry of the Word

*Air Wars and Ground Wars

*Bombing the Shores and Hand-to-Hand Combat

Each twin metaphor seeks to compare and contrast how pastors change lives with Christ’s changeless truth either through preaching or through counseling. Both should be ministries of the Word. That foundation should never change, although the “method” of communication/connecting should be quite different in preaching from personal counseling.

Here’s the question I’ve been asking myself.

Why do some Evangelical pastors who are committed to expository, exegetical preaching where they relate God’s truth to their people’s lives, “jump ship” and change their commitment when it comes to the personal ministry of the Word (counseling)?

In other words, as pastors, when we’re in the pulpit, why do we trust the power of God’s Word to change lives, but when we’re in our offices with a struggling parishioner we seem to lose that trust, trusting instead in worldly wisdom?

Why are we confident that God’s Word is profoundly relevant to change lives when shared from the pulpit, but then we seem to lose that confidence in the personal ministry of the Word when sitting across from a spiritual friend?

Again, I’m not suggesting that counseling equals individual preaching. I am, however, suggesting that counseling (the personal ministry of the Word) equals spiritual conversations based upon biblical insights for living mutually explored in the context of a committed relationship. I am suggesting that the Word is powerful to change lives both when preached from the pulpit and when applied together in the relational context of one another ministry.

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Why do some Evangelical pastors seem to lose their confidence in the profound relevance of God’s Word when they move from preaching to personal counseling?

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