Okay, here I go again. Sometimes it seems like I invite trouble. But think. Just what is the job of the preacher? We all remember the old description: The perfect preacher preaches exactly ten minutes. He condemns sin soundly, but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He works from 8AM until midnight and is also the church janitor. The perfect preacher makes $40.00 a week, wears good clothes and drives a new car, buys good books, and donates $30.00 a week to the church. He is 29 years old, and has 40 years experience. He has a burning desire to work with the teens, and spends most of his time with the senior citizens. He makes 15 home visits each day, and is always in his office when needed.
As you can see from the above, there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning the work of the preacher and his role in the church. Let’s investigate what the Bible says. Many consider the preacher as an employee of the church. I have heard members, and even elders, say, “Well, we hired him and we will tell him what he is to do. He works for us.” Sorry, but that is just wrong. There is a command to pay preachers, I Corinthians 9:14, those who deliver the Gospel to live from the Gospel. But this does not make them employees of the church. If you examine the Old Testament, the priests were supported by the people, but they were not the employees of the people. A preacher is not of the employee of any congregation. Rather, he is a servant of the Lord. (I Timothy 4:6) He is accountable to the Lord, and it is the duty of the elders to oversee his work, but they must remember that ultimately, he is a servant of the Lord and will answer to Him.
The Scriptural relationship between the congregation and the preacher is that of fellow workers, not that of master and servant. We, today, have many ideas about the work of the preacher, and most of them are wrong:
- It is the preacher’s job to visit the sick. Not especially. A careful reading of Matthew 25:36-44 assures us that the “job” of visiting the sick belongs to all Christians.
- It is the preacher’s job to see that the hungry are fed. Did you read the above verses?
- It is the preacher’s job to visit newcomers and invite them to attend, and it is his job to welcome them when they do. Again, read the verses above. They are very plain.
- It is the preacher’s job to take care of the widows and see to their needs. Again, not so. James tells us in James 1:27, pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their need and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. This applies to all of the congregation, every one of us.
- It is the preacher’s job to teach all adult classes as well as preach. Preach, yes. That is his function. But teach all the adult classes? Absolutely not. Ephesians 4:11 clearly separates the functions of teachers and evangelists. In addition to that, think logically. Can it be a good thing for a congregation to ever receive only one opinion? No matter how good or how sincere your preacher might be, it is good to get a variety of opinions so long as they are all Scriptural. It would be a very sad congregation to have no man in the congregation who could lead a discussion concerning God’s Word.
Is it any wonder, then, that a Fuller Institute of Church Growth showed that:
- 90% of preachers work more than 46 hours a week
- 50% of preachers felt themselves unable to meet the needs of the job
- 90% of preachers felt they had been inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
- 70% of preachers said they had a lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry
- 70% of preachers said they did not have someone they considered a close friend
When we interrupt the work of the preacher because we are too lazy to do our own work and want him to do it for us, we give Satan a chance to distract his work and to divert the direction of the congregation into a thousand new channels which may not have anything to do with the express business of the preacher or the congregation.
So, what is the work of a preacher? Really, just one thing. His duty is to preach the Gospel. Romans 10:13-17 teaches us that it is necessary for us to hear the Gospel. That Gospel is told to us by a preacher. He spends hours preparing to break to us the Word of God, telling us what we need to know to please God. That does not excuse us from reading and studying God’s Word on our own, but the preacher is there to give us direction and to exhort us to do better..
We, as Christians, have three main duties in life:
- Praise God Luke 4:8, Matthew 4:10, Ecclesiastes 12:13
- Edify one another Ephesians 4:10-12, Romans 15:1-2, I Corinthians 14:26
- Spread the Gospel Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15
The work of the preacher is to expound to us from God’s Word , so that we understand that those are our goals in life. We all have the duty to examine his words and be sure they are Scriptural, then act upon them.
So, in conclusion, remember to thank your preacher. His duty to God is to prepare you for the work God has set for you…not to do your work for you. Thanks, Tommy. We love you.
What say ye?