John Stott’s magnificent book The Preacher’s Portrait describes five roles that a pastor-preacher fills in serving the church of Jesus Christ. The second role presented is that of a herald.
Whereas the emphasis of the steward is on the role of faithfully preserving and dispensing the Word of God to the church, the role of the herald in pastoring is that of both proclaiming a specific message entrusted to him, and then making an appeal for a response on the part of the listener. The specific message that he proclaims is that of the spectacular accomplishment of the cross of Jesus Christ in bringing about the opportunity of reconciliation between God and man—the Gospel. The pastor-as-herald is more than a mere spokesman who says something—he is an ambassador who calls upon those to whom he has been sent to make a decision about what he has told them. Thus Peter preached to his Pentecost listeners “Repent, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38), and Paul wrote, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20). A herald needs to be clear about his message, simple in its presentation, and courageous in calling for a response from his listeners. It’s this type of moral courage that marks a faithful pastor.
From Stott: “So the true herald of God is careful first to make a thorough and thoughtful proclamation of God’s great deed of redemption through Christ’s cross, and then to issue a sincere and earnest appeal to men to repent and believe. Not one without the other, but both.”