Two Ministries of the Word

“The Bible envisions two essential, interdependent, and complementary ministries of the Word. First there is the public ministry of the Word. This is the regularly scheduled public teaching and preaching of God’s Word to gathered groups in the church. This ministry makes up the formative discipline of the church. Every member is discipled from the pulpit with the same body of foundational perspective-altering, life-shaping truths. Here all of God’s people are placed on the same tracks and headed in the same direction. Because this public ministry of the Word is done with groups of people, it must be general in its consideration of audience and therefore in its application. God gifts and sets apart certain people for this important formative ministry. Because it is also important that God’s Word be applied with concrete specificity to the lives of individual believers so that they are clear as to what it looks like to follow Christ in the context of their particular situation and relationships, God has ordained a second, complementary ministry of the Word, its private ministry. This makes up the corrective discipline of the church. This ministry does not have a different body of content. No, it takes the general truths that everyone has been hearing and applies them with specificity to the lives of individual believers so that they can more concretely understand what it means to live in light of the things they are being taught. The radical Word culture of the church as God designed it drafts all of God’s children to be willing, envisioned, trained, and mobilized participants in this second ministry of the Word. Private ministry of the Word depends on public ministry of the Word to give people their formative foundation, and the public ministry looks to private ministry to counsel people into understanding the specific practical life implications of what they have been learning as the Word has been taught publicly. Neither ministry is a luxury. Each is an essential part of God’s bi-factoral, Word-centered growth strategy for the local church.”

– Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling

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