In a day when word-based ministries are often viewed with suspicion, it is right to be reminded of emphases of the New Testament. Peter Adam has suggested that ‘the broad range of “ministry of the Word” verbs in the New Testament may be categorised as follows:-
Words of information: teach, instruct, point out, make known, remind.
- Words of declaration: preach, proclaim, cry out, testify, bear witness, declare, write, read, pass on, set forth.
- Words of exhortation: call, denounce, warn, rebuke, command, give judgement, encourage, appeal, urge, ask.
- Words of persuasion: explain, make clear, prove, guard, debate, contend, refute, reason, persuade, convince, insist, defend, confirm, stress.
- Words of conversation: say, speak, talk, answer, reply, give answer.
‘Only a few of these verbs have to do simply with the transmission of information. A merely didactic approach is inadequate. Exhortation and persuasion are often involved, and a response is sought. It is also to be noted that the ministry of the Word can be carried out in the context of ordinary conversation.
‘The message itself is referred to in a number of ways: the preaching, the teaching, the word of encouragement, the word of God, the word of the Lord, the good news, the word of Christ, the gospel, the gospel of God, the whole counsel of God, the message, the words about Jesus Christ, the kingdom, the word of life, the truth, his commands, the deposit, the pattern, the faith, the Scriptures, the mystery of Christ, the truth of the gospel, Christ, Christ crucified, Jesus Christ as Lord, the new covenant.
‘Again, a variety of images are used to describe the ministry of the Word: sowing the seed, treading out the grain, the harvest, planting the seed, watering the seed, providing milk, providing solid food, laying a foundation, being a father, work, giving birth, the fight, demolishing, making captive, tearing down, building up. All these indicate that the word is ministered for a practical purpose, and not merely for instruction.’
Peter Adam, Speaking God’s Words, 75 (numbering added)