When young men go into the ministry, they are ambitious and hopeful. They dream of saving countless souls and inspiring brethren immediately to become passionate and obedient.
However, reality soon sets in, and they learn that working with humans is more complicated than they realized. These aspiring preachers learn some harsh lessons in the meantime and struggle until they gain some experience.
When we embark into a new career, we need copious amounts of guidance, patience and grace until we know what we are doing. With that in mind, here are six lessons that young preachers may not be told in school or when they are in training.
What if every member of the congregation were a preacher? Would that make the congregation successful? NO
What if every member of the congregation could sing like a song leader? Would that make the congregation successful? NO
Sometimes we may think that if we could get everyone to do something “big” for the congregation then the congregation would be successful! But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul basically asked, “What if every member of the congregation were an apostle? What if every member of the congregation were a prophet? What if every member of the congregation were a teacher? What if every member of the congregation could work miracles? What if every member of the congregation could heal? What if every member of the congregation could speak in tongues? What if every member of the congregation could interpret? Would that make the congregation successful? NO.”
Some in the congregation thought they were “big time” because they could do “big things” but Paul reminded them that every “little thing” mattered to the congregation’s success. Working together is what makes a congregation successful. Working together as a body is what gets the job done.
Everyone can’t be a foot, or an eye, or a nose – but everybody can be somebody in the body of Christ! And we must not forget that without love we’re no body no matter what somebody thinks; just read the next chapter in its context.
The smallest congregation I’ve been to is the one I’m presently a member of – the Montana St. congregation. We run between 15-20 members each Lord’s Day. In the 1960’s the congregation had over 600 members – standing room only – filled both the auditorium and balcony. We can plainly see the decline in spiritual priorities over the past 50 years. A sad commentary indeed.
The last true evangelist that I’ve known who lived what he preached, was Brother Dan Gibson, who preached for our Montana Street congregation for approximately seven years. He has since retired, he and his wife moving to Conroe, Texas to be close to their children.
He and his wife Joy, are now members of the Longmire congregation http://www.longmirechurchofchrist.com/longmirecc/welcome, where he now preaches part time. He also oversees the congregation’s educational program, making sure that the materials used in their Bible classes, coincides with clear Bible teaching.
Brother Dan is truly a man of the Book. I love and miss he and his wife dearly. I call him every weekend to see how he and his wife are getting along healthwise (they are in their late 70’s). Such faithful preachers in the brotherhood, are few and far between (and getting fewer by the day).
When is it time to quit, that is when is it time to quit preaching for the local congregation of which you (I) currently are (am) a member? Boy! If I only knew an objective answer to that! I am constantly evaluating how things are where I preach; many things are included in the evaluation process. Some of those items that I include are: 1) Does the congregation want me to continue? 2) How well does my family enjoy living and working here? 3) Am I being effective in the work (as I judge it)? 4) Does (should) my extended family play a role in me having to consider further options? 5) Are there problems within the local congregation that continue, and I am having no success at getting them resolved? 6) Do the brethren need “new-blood”? That is, do they need a new preacher to help stimulate new enthusiasm. Related to this is whether or not the congregation is too comfortable with how things currently are? If they are, is this a bad thing?
These questions I am continually filtering through my mind. Since I am the final judge of all of them (for this local decision), I only wish that some of them were much more easily determined than they are.
The Montana Street congregation does not have a summer series where preachers from area congregations come and preach on different topics, but we used to have such about ten years ago.
Like everything else, the world is too much with us!
At the Montana Street congregation, one of our elders presents the announcements right before the last song of the service is sung.
The announcements consists of the following:
1) A prayer list of those members who are ill, in the hospital, or homebound.
2) An announcement regarding our monthly luncheon on the first Sunday of every month.
3) The Bible Question Of The Week.
4) A list of the members who have birthdays or anniversaries during the month.
5) Any area-wide congregational singing.
6) Any area-wide gospel meeting.
7) Needed grocery items for the food pantry.