Tag Archives: ministers

“Preach the Word…Do The Work of an Evangelist” – Michael Grooms

To stand before a group of people and proclaim the glorious gospel of Christ is at the same time the greatest honor and the most humbling experience.  It is the greatest of honors because the message proclaimed is that from the very words of God.  The preacher is a messenger of God, insofar as the message preached is indeed the word of God.  It is the most humbling of experiences because no man is worthy of the task.  The preacher must first examine himself before he proclaims the word of God to others.  Such an examination may reveal inadequacies in his life.  Having thus examined himself in the light of God’s word, having prayed for God’s mercy, and having applied the message to his life, he may then be ready to preach the message to others.  Even the great apostle Paul realized this truth.  He stated, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).  He referred to himself as a chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) who was placed into the ministry not because he was worthy, but because he was a recipient of the mercy of Christ, who enabled him and counted him worthy (1 Tim. 1:12).  Every minister of the gospel would do well to echo these sentiments.

The preacher is first and foremost just that, a preacher.  It is very easy for a preacher of the gospel to become inundated with many tasks and responsibilities as he feels the pressure to meet the demands and expectations of others.  This can lead to a life that is very busy, but sorely lacking in proper study and preparation to preach the word of God.  If one gives his life to the preaching of God’s word, then he should guard that charge from distractions that would diminish his ability to do so effectively.  The preacher is to “minister to the saints” (Rom. 15:25); that is, he is to serve them in their spiritual needs.  This is not the task of the preacher alone, but that of every Christian (Heb. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:10). When the preacher capitulates to the expectations to do the work which God expects of every church member, he not only robs them of the fulfillment of having done their duty, but may find his duty as a minister of the gospel hindered.  Elders do well who protect the preacher from unnecessary burdens that hinder his ability to focus on the study and proclamation of the word of God.  The apostles had the wisdom to understand this.  When approached with the complaint that the Hellenist (Greek speaking) widows were being neglected in their care, the apostles stated that it was not fitting for them to “leave the word of God and serve tables” (Acts 6:2, NKJV).  They charged the church with the task of finding those who they would appoint to that task so that they could devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).  While preachers are not apostles, they are to be ministers of the word.  The wisdom of the apostles should guide elders, deacons, preachers, and all members in being certain that each fulfills their own duties and responsibilities.

What makes a good minister?  In 1 Timothy 4, Paul warns the preacher Timothy of the impending departure from the faith and his duty to preach concerning the truth of God’s word.  He then states, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Tim. 4:6, emp. added).  He continues to admonish Timothy to avoid “profane and old wives fables,” to exercise toward godliness, and to be an example to the believers.  He reminds Timothy to give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine.  Timothy is instructed to meditate on these things, to give himself entirely to them, and to “take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). This is how the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to define a “good minister.” A good minister will not fail to “preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).  He will not shun to proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  He will speak those things that are proper for sound doctrine (Tit. 2:1).  

Unfortunately, the “corporate” mindset of our society has affected the way people define roles in the church today.  While there are many elderships which view the role of the elder as a shepherd, too often elderships conduct themselves as a board of directors.  This mindset has also affected how elders and church members often view the role of a preacher.  The preacher is identified as an employee of the church.  He is hired to preach and visit.  Often, he is hired to do the work that others in the church should be doing.  The plea of the restoration movement is to “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent. Do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names. In matters of faith, unity. In matters of opinion, liberty. In all matters, charity.”  If the church is to speak where the Bible speaks and call Bible things by Bible names, then should not this principle define the roles of those who serve in the church?  The employer/ employee relationship that so often defines the role of preachers in churches is nowhere to be found in the scriptures.  The two epistles of Paul to Timothy and his epistle to Titus define the role of the preacher.  In Ephesians 4:11, the scriptures teach that God gave the role of evangelist, just as he did that of apostles, prophets, and pastors (elders).  Each of these roles was intended by God to fulfill a purpose in the building up of the church, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).  The roles of apostles and prophets have been fulfilled and are no longer extant. The roles of evangelists (preachers) and pastors (elders) as well as that of deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13) are all ordained by God and defined in scripture.  It is proper for churches to support one who preaches to them, not because he is an employee, but because God has thus ordained (1 Cor. 9:14; Mark 10:9-10; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Tim. 2:6; Gal. 6:6).  By so doing, the church enables the evangelist to devote himself to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).   In John 10:12, Jesus spoke of the hireling who flees because he does not care about the sheep.  The church needs fewer hirelings and more servants of God in its pulpits!

It is imperative that evangelists and elders foster good relationships!  The failure to nurture such relationships has hindered the work of many churches.  Those churches which are blessed by elders and preachers who love and respect each other are empowered by such.  Stephen Guy has served the Lord’s church as both a preacher and an elder, as well as helping to train many preachers as a college instructor.  The following are the words of brother Guy as spoken to this author:

“Young and older preachers alike look for a congregation to spend their life in ministry.  The relationship between a minister and congregation has been compared to a marriage.  At the center is the elder/ preacher relationship.  The elders do make the final decision on the hiring and firing of the minister, and the minister answers to his elders as every member.  The relationship between an eldership and minister should be one of mutual love and respect.  However, in a number of congregations a corporate mentality has crept into the elder/ minister relationship in which the elders act as CEOs and the ministers are treated or function as hirelings. The Bible says that elders are not to lord over the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).  This includes the sheep, known as the minister and his family. The shepherds are to treat every sheep in a godly manner. If the minister is not acting in a godly manner or being effective, they should be corrected in the same way as any other member, in love.  There are times when it is best for the minister and elders to part ways, however it should be done in love and be God honoring.  Elders and ministers who love the Lord, and one another, make for a great marriage.  Elders and ministers, if you are enjoying such a relationship, pray for and praise, publicly and privately, one another, and the congregation will follow your example.  One compliment from an elder can make a minister’s day, and one compliment from the minister will make an elder’s year.”

Michael serves as the pulpit minister for the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.  He can be reached at gospelpreacher@charter.net.

Monday Morning Message for the Minister – Steven K. Guy

I love preaching and training men to preach.  The Lord has blessed me with a number of opportunities during my nearly 40 years of ministry.  I want to encourage every brother to preach the word.  It is heartbreaking to see so many leave the ministry.  Ministers are men of God who need encouragement.  I pray that this message will encourage the brethren to hold up the hands of their preacher and get involved in the greatest work on earth.  Monday is traditionally the “down day” for the minister.  Having studied, taught, visited, counseled, and prepared himself for a full day on Sunday, Monday faces him with the never ending reality that it starts all over again.  Many preachers take Mondays off to physically rest.  However, the mind knows no such luxury.  It keeps right on thinking and the thoughts on Monday, especially, can be rather pessimistic.  This message is to help the minister make it through the Monday morning quarterback blues and to uplift him for the rest of the week.

When Monday arrives, the minister already feels behind.  it’s like driving past telephone poles.  As soon as you pass one, another is upon you.  Two more sermons, two more Bible classes, and a host of ministry responsibilities lay ahead for the week.  Unless the title “preacher” is a misnomer, the first responsibility is that of preaching the word.  This is where Paul began and ended with his advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 1 and 2 Timothy 4).

Preaching the word involves not preaching fables (spinning stories, 2 Tim. 4:4; 2:16-18), but preaching the holy and inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 3:15; John 17:17), which are complete to equip and produce men and women of God.  It was this word in which Timothy had been reared (2 Tim. 3:15), which first produces faith (2 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 10:17) and in which Paul had nurtured Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14).  Rome was not built in a day.  Neither are faithful men, women, or churches, but they are built through such preaching of “sound” words (2 Tim. 1:13), “with all long suffering (patience) and doctrine (teaching)” (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2).  Preaching the word will not always be inviting or appreciated, but the man of God is to preach it “in season and out of season” for it will convict, warn, and encourage the brethren and the lost to be right with God (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:24-26; 3:10).

The call to preach began with the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14).  We read Matthew 28:18-20 and feel a sense of “oughtness.”  Ivan Steward said, “Go ye means go me.”  The apostle Paul said, “For necessity is laid upon me.  Yeah, woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).  But who feels sufficient for these things?  (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5)  Paul tells us that God gives us the sufficiency.  But at times, that concept is challenging to remember.

When Jeremiah was called, God said, “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (1:8).  You remember a similar situation with Moses in Exodus 3 and 4.  Moses was about 80 when God called him and his response was also a feeling of inadequacy (Ex. 4:1, 10, 13).  But God’s response to Moses was one of assurance (Ex. 3:12, 14-22; 4:2-9, 11-12, 14-17).

It is that assurance which motivated Jeremiah, Moses, you and me to begin and depend.  However, those Mondays come when we wonder if we are adequate for the task.  I believe Isaiah was of such a mindset when he entered the temple that day and was given the vision of God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  And above it stood the seraphim…and one cried unto another, and said ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory'” (Is. 6:1, 3).  Ironically, this vision at first made Isaiah to feel his inadequacy:  “Then said I, ‘Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:4).  Again, the vision ends with God’s assurance, “and he laid it (a live coal, v. 6) upon my mouth, and said, ‘Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Is. 6:5).  It was the twin understanding of our forgiveness and His assurance of being with us that motivated us to answer God’s call in telling others about Him (1 Thess. 2:14; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We remember that we felt the same fervor Isaiah had when he said, “Here am I, send me” (v. 8).  However, please note that Isaiah was told he would face rejection just like Jeremiah (Is. 6:9-13).

With such an awesome task, the young minister’s feeling of inadequacy can be lessened by the advice of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).  To the older minister called later in life and wondering if he is adequate, remember Jesus’ response to Peter’s feeling of inadequacy, “Simon, fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).

Jeremiah’s call was to preach his word and be rejected by many, but be delivered by God.  The prospect of such a life is challenging enough, but as Jeremiah complains, “Why do the wicked prosper?” (Jer. 12:1).  It is tough to try to preach about forsaking the ways of the world and its folly (Jer. 20:8) when seemingly, the success of the world is flaunted and the righteous forsaken (Jer. 12:1, 4), especially His ministers.  When young men and old alike contemplate ministry for their lives they may hear advice (even from the church) such as, “Oh, you do not want to be a preacher; there is no future in it!”  When brethren have stewed preacher for Sunday lunch and churches have revolving doors to the preacher’s office, servants of the Lord cry out for justice.  Many feel like Jeremiah who accused God of tricking him into the ministry (Jer. 20:7).  Jeremiah felt that God had put him between a rock and a hard place.  If he preached God’s word, he was tortured physically.  If he tried to hold it in, he was tortured emotionally and spiritually.  What a predicament!

The prophet Habakkuk had a problem with God’s justice.  God’s response was for the preacher to wait, that the just shall live by their faithfulness (Hab. 2:1-4).  What is faithfulness?  It is abiding trust.  The wise man Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Jeremiah came to the same conclusion in Jeremiah 17:7:  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, in whose hope the Lord is.”  Jeremiah illustrated this point by contrasting two plants.  One plant is of such a nature that in any environment, it would not be productive (Jer. 17:6).  This is the man who trusts in himself or in the advice of men.  The second plant is as a tree planted by waters which even in a drought, would still be productive (Jer. 17:8).  This is the man who trusts in the Lord, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).  Jeremiah, in a better moment, had realized that nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17).  God confirmed this in Jeremiah 32:27, “Is anything too hard for God?”  Trusting in the Lord will get us through all of our Mondays victoriously.

The truth is none of us are sufficient in and of ourselves.  The sufficiency comes from God “who also hath made us sufficient as ministers of the New Testament” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).  God has told his ministers throughout the ages, “I am with thee…”  Not just on Sundays, but also on Mondays (Heb. 13:5-6).