Which is worse: dealing with dirty diapers or potty training? I don’t like either. Maybe a better question would be: what drives my wife to keep wanting more kids? A mother’s love has some real similarities to the love that a Bible preacher has to have. Big kids aren’t a lot different from little kids, they’re just better at coming up with excuses for not taking responsibility.
Preachers have the never-ending job of:
Helping new or otherwise immature churches to mature
It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. It’s never-ending because if the job is getting done, there will always be new disciples.
I started this discussion to explore why recent generations have not gotten the job done and how we can change that. This issue is first on the list because I believe it is one of the biggest. Why is it that although 1/3 of the world’s population needs to hear the gospel and 150,000 people die every day, we are so lazy that we hire ‘professionals’ to serve us rather than serving ourselves and sending capable Christians to those who need to hear?
In the Bible, preachers are also called evangelists and apostles (one sent out). Let’s briefly review the Bible’s description of their work:
The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas off to Antioch where, “a large number who believed turned to the Lord.” (See Acts 11:19-26) Antioch was immature because it was a new church.
The church at Antioch rapidly matured and they soon sent Barnabas and Paul out to make disciples elsewhere. (See Acts 13-14) Barnabas and Paul planted a number of churches, spent a few months with each, and then left them to serve themselves.
The rapidness of these church plants was made possible by Jewish converts who were already grounded in Scripture and who were soon able to send out a man named Timothy, who from childhood had known the sacred writings (See 2 Tim 1:5; 3:15), to go preach with Paul (See Acts 16:1-3).
A brisk church planting movement was spearheaded by Paul’s evangelism team (See Acts 16-18). This is the primary example of church planting recorded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Three years is the longest time the Scripture records Paul spending in one place (See Acts 20:31). In some cases he left team members to help new churches for a while.
Paul also revisited most of the churches that he planted to strengthen them and appoint elders. Evangelists from his team were also sent to churches for this purpose (See 1 Cor 3:1; 4:17; Tit 1:5). The sooner churches mature, the sooner they can send preachers out to a lost and dying world.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:14-15)
There’s not much to say about churches hiring preachers to serve them, because there is no example of this in Scripture. Somebody would be rich if they had patented the invented position known as ‘pulpit minister’, especially if they could collect a patent fee regardless of the title used to label this unscriptural position.
In all seriousness, we need to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:38) Every church should keep moving in the Biblical direction of self-sufficiency and have the goal of sending apostles/evangelists/preachers out to make disciples and help new or otherwise immature churches to mature.
Some argue that first century churches could mature more rapidly because they had the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I would counter with 1 Cor 13:8-13, and point out that the gifts are called childish (immature). The gifts of knowledge and prophecy were replaced with the New Testament, which is widely available and is neither long nor incomprehensible. Childish things are inferior to the completed word of God in producing maturity.
Lord willing, I will point out in future discussions that teaching disciples to take responsibility for their own and for each other’s spiritual growth is far more efficient than imposing the trappings of manmade religion. Traditions of men hinder the maturity of disciples and the spread of the gospel.