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.
The “little ones” in my life is my congregation of loving and caring people who help me when I’m in financial straits. Conversely, I help them in preaching and teaching the sound gospel of Christ (or whatever else needs to be done). We help one another, and in so doing, both of us are richly blessed by the Lord.
The last congregation that I visited was the Northside congregation here in El Paso. I was impressed with the young man (30+ years) who conducted the adult Bible class on Proverbs chapter 1. He was very knowledgeable of his subject matter and asked the class some penetrating questions that caused us to actually think. It was a refreshing class to say the least.
In our physical families, how we spend our money affects the rest of the family. For example, if the Father blows his paychecks on gambling and his wife can’t afford groceries, then she and the children go hungry. On the other hand, if he is wise with his money, his family can prosper.
An idea comes to mind along this line that might make a good discussion. Each congregation is autonomous and each congregation’s leadership is accountable for how they spend the Lord’s money. We are all children of God and we are all given the task to glorify Christ (Ephesians 3:20-21), through service, worship, evangelism, helping the poor, etc.
Now, consider a question. Since we are all in the same family, despite being in autonomous congregations, how accountable are we to each other, in how we spend our money? We have so many mission works and missionaries that are closing down for lack of funds. Good programs that could bless the world, never get off of the ground, for the same reason.
Therefore, I ask, how accountable are we, as members of the Lord’s body, to each other?If not in deed, what about in spirit?
There is more than enough to do the Lord’s will. But most of it goes to non-spiritual activities, which damages the progress of the entire body. God has to be completely heart-broken about this sad fact.
When a preacher gets a divorce, can he continue as the preacher? I am discussing this on my blog. Join me.
I would like to be able to attend the 5th Annual Preacher’s Files Lectureship coming up on July 9-11, at the Rush Springs congregation in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. The lectureship will be spiritually beneficial for anyone who chooses to attend. This year’s lectureship theme is “Seeking First The Kingdom.”
For any additional information, contact Brother David Hersey, a member of the Granby, Missouri congregation – http://www.granbychurchofchrist.org/:
Someday, we will be able to alert all of the members of our congregations by email/text/internet pages. This will come, in time, as more people succumb to new technologies. This will be very useful. Many people have email, but they rarely check them and many older people don’t get online at all.
When we reach this point, how do you foresee this will benefit the church family? Or, will it get lost in the blizzard of information that hits us each day? Like anything, it can be used well or abused.
What comments do you have?
Ten people in our congregation are actively teaching people every week. That number does not include those who are doing other things to promote the church and create good will so more doors will be opened. Four have been baptized this month.