In my Ministry class at PRTS, we’ve been examining the connection between pastoral visitation and powerful preaching. There may be a few exceptions to this, but usually there is an unbreakable connection. Here are a few quotes that establish and urge that connection. The first four are from W. G. T Shedd.

This kind of labour as necessarily forms a part of the ministerial service as preaching. A perfect clergyman, if such there were, would combine both the oratorical and the pastoral character in just proportions and degrees. The clergyman is liable to be deficient upon one or the other side of this double character. He is a better preacher than he is pastor, or else a better pastor than he is preacher. It should therefore be the aim of the clergyman to perfect himself in both respects.[1]

It is an error to suppose that these two offices are totally independent of each other, and that the clergymen can secure the highest eminence in one by neglecting the other.[2]

The degree of success in both instances is much increased, by cultivating a complete clerical talent. The learning and study of the preacher are needed to enlighten and guide the zeal and earnestness of the pastor, and the vitality and directness of the pastor are needed to animate and enforce the culture of the preacher. Instead, therefore, of regarding the functions of the preacher and the pastor as totally independent of each other, and capable of being carried to perfection, each by itself, the clergyman must perform them both, and with equal fidelity.[3]

If there were space, it would be natural here to enlarge upon the reciprocal relations and influences of these two clerical functions, particularly with reference to sermoniz­ing. It is obvious that such a regular and systematic interaction with his congregation will fill the mind of the clergyman with subjects for sermons, with plans and methods of treating them, and with trains of reflection. Nothing so kindles and enriches the orator’s mind as living interaction with individual persons. A preacher who is in the habit of conversing with all grades of society, and becomes acquainted with the great varieties in the Chris­tian experience and the sinful experience, will be an ex­uberant and overflowing sermonizer.[4]

Derek Prime

The functions of the shepherd are more likely to be neglected than those of the teacher. Responsibilities for teaching can be much more readily defined — for example, we know how many teaching responsibilities we have each week, and we can plan the hours we should devote to preparation. We may find a sense of achievement in completing our preparation and giving what we trust are God-given expositions of His Word. But the limits of pastoral work are much more difficult to define, and one week’s demands will seldom be the same as the previous or the next. Shepherding and teaching should not be separated. Preach­ing and pastoral work help each other. Visiting enhances our preaching in that it helps us to appreciate how our fellow-believers think, their problems and their temptations. When we preach to those we know well, and whose situations we understand, we apply God’s truth more relevantly, almost unconsciously — and probably the less-consciously the better. Our visits and counseling have greater relevance too because the members of the flock associate us with the Word they have heard taught and preached, and in one-to-one conversations we are able to apply that same Word more personally and in greater depth.[5]

Biography of Thomas Boston

It is when we see these two parts of his ministry combined and co-operating, preaching and pastoral visitation, all of course conjoined with prayer, that we can the more easily account for that rich harvest of souls which he was again and again called upon to reap.  Those tears of sympathy watered the good seed of the word which he had sown.  Those home visits, winning their affections and their confidence, invested his preaching with a double power, and opened the way for the entrance of the word. ‘The sheep knew their shepherd’s voice,’ and followed him.[6]

When his congregation saw him enter his pulpit on the morning of the Lord’s Day, they knew that they were looking into the countenance of one who had just come forth from intimate communion with God, and who was at once God’s ambassador and their friend.  Along with his devout and holy living, he united in himself two great influences — his preaching and his pastoral oversight, in which he ‘watched for souls as one that must give an account.’  But the minister who holds himself back from the latter of these functions, when it is within his power to use it, is like a man that is content to work with only one arm.  So long as his health continue unbroken, Mr. Boston delighted in this part of his sacred office, ready to face storm and rain and cold in visiting the dying and the disconsolate, even to the remotest parts of his parish; and it was only when advancing years came, bring with them decaying health and growing infirmities, that he reluctantly obeyed their unwelcome interdict to hold back.[7]

[1] Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 340.

[2] Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 341.

[3] Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 342.

[4] Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 352.

[5] Prime, Pastors and Teachers, 123.

[6] Thomson, Thomas Boston, 115.

[7] Thomson, Thomas Boston, 116.