Preaching is by far the most important of the minister's public duties. More will be done for more people in that concentrated preaching session that at any other moment. Patterson says, "If preaching is done properly, it will alleviate the need for a large percent of counselling necessities." Lloyd-Jones, drawing on his vast medical and pastoral experience, argues that the task of the church is not to alleviate the symptoms of a man's spiritual condition until the cause of those symptoms has been isolated and dealt with properly. Counselling generally seems to help people who have problems of various kinds, and this is good so far as it goes; but sometimes the 'successful' counsellor is seen to be the one who can make people feel 'good' after a session. But this is nothing short of criminal, because it removes the only indicator that something is wrong.
But when the Word is truly and pastorally preached, needy people will find their problems being sorted out as they attend to that Word. Sometimes the charge can be levelled against preacher's, especially in the Reformed Church, that their preaching is too cerebral at times, and not experiential enough. I think there is truth in this charge. The result is that people are driven to look for someone, possibly even their minister, who will help them sort out their difficulties. This is very time consuming, and in itself is not guaranteed to be successful. Well prepared and faithfully proclaimed sermons will do more to counsel people than is often imagined. Preaching is still God's chief way of sharing His Word with His people.