As a general rule of understanding, there is a difference between teaching and preaching in Church–preaching can be, and often is more of a corrective nature. Preaching, in that sense, should be left to the ministry, whereas non-ordained men can of course teach during Church services, if asked by the ministry to do so.
We should also note that the task of “preaching” includes proclaiming the gospel or good news to the world. The responsibility of preaching the gospel in all the world is reserved for the ministry or to be undertaken under the direction, guidance or supervision of the ministry. Matthew 28:19-20 points out that the Church is to first “go… and make disciples of all nations (verse 19).” This summarizes the Church’s responsibility of preaching the gospel in all the world (Romans 10:14-17), including the need of repentance, faith and baptism. Before a person is to be baptized, he or she must repent of his or her sins and accept, in faith, the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). The Church’s ministry will baptize those who respond correctly to the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; compare Luke 24:46-47). At the time of proper baptism and the laying on of hands by the ministry, the baptized person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the Church is to fulfill the second part of its commission, by “teaching them [the converted disciples] to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).” As distinguished from “preaching” or proclaiming the gospel to the world, “teaching” the truth in depth applies to activities within the Church. We must have God’s Holy Spirit within us to grow in the understanding of God’s word (John 16:12-13), and to obtain the strength and power or might to obey God as God’s Spirit continues to give understanding through His Word (Ephesians 1:13; 3:14-21; compare Romans 1:5; 16:26).
But even in regard to teaching God’s truth to others in the Church, unordained men who have been asked to speak in Church must be careful that they don’t appear to try to fulfill the role of a minister. They are not to “correct” others, nor are they to “teach” “new” understanding, or, even worse, to challenge Church doctrines and practices.
The ministry has specific areas of responsibilities–for example, pertaining to the laying on of hands for receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17); healing (James 5:14-16); and the authority to cast out demons (Mark 16:17). All of these responsibilities, and more, are areas of accountability for which the ministry, specifically, is responsible to God.
The original twelve apostles and the seventy disciples were sent by Jesus Christ to preach–BEFORE they were “converted.” This was a unique occurrence. Later on, when the Church was established, ordinations were conducted for the express purpose of preaching and of administering the Church of God (compare Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-3).
In considering the qualifications of ministers and deacons in Timothy and Titus, it is apparent that a developmental process based on mature approaches and goals was to be in place within the Church. Paul speaks to Timothy about having deacons being first tested before being ordained (compare 1 Timothy 3:10). This has been the practice of the Church of God over the last many decades–something we continue to do in first TRAINING individuals before they are ordained. Men who are capable teachers (“able to teach,” compare 1 Timothy 3:2), and who exemplify Biblical qualifications in their lives, are the ones considered for ordination.
Preaching and teaching, when it comes to establishing doctrines and their administration, solely fall to those ordained to the ministry. However, ALL Church members should strive to have the spiritual maturity to explain the Truth–especially those introductory occasions when someone new asks a member about the Church (Compare Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15). As was explained in the Q&A in Update 230, ALL should likewise seek deeper and deeper understanding of those things God is revealing to those who seek Him.
All of our roles should blend harmoniously, but they still remain distinct. For instance, a really poignant question brought to the ministry may indeed lead to a deeper understanding that, in turn, solidifies doctrinal points. This is to be done in an orderly process and not just based on anyone’s whim.
Qualifications showing that God is calling someone into the ministry generally become apparent through that individual’s conduct. An over-arching consideration is given in James 3:1: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” We would note that this specifically refers to teachers of Christianity.
Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Dave Harris