Tag Archives: new work

The Challenge To Be All Things To All People – Jamie Bellar

When preachers begin a new work there are a number of challenges that confront the preacher and his family.  For some preachers and their families, there are the challenges that exist even before the new work begins.  There are countless preachers who can attest to the stress and strain that the process of relocating places upon him and his family.  Such stress and strain, though not the fault of his family, can make the beginning of his work a bit more challenging.  However, bear in mind that God has blessed preachers and their families with a wonderful family that are generally willing to help relieve the stress and strain of relocating to a new work.  Though God has blessed us with His wonderful family, a preacher and his family need to be prepared as best they can for the potential challenges that may confront them in relocating.

While there are challenges that confront the preacher and his family prior to relocating to a new work, there are challenges that confront them upon their arrival.  The remainder of this article addresses one such challenge – the challenge to be all things to all people in a new work.  While being all things to all people is an admirable goal, the primary goal for a preacher should be to always be like Christ.  The one who penned the words, “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22, NKJV), also penned, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).  So long as it does not jeopardize one’s relationship with Christ and His purpose, the preacher should seek to become all things to all men.  Yet, in order to do so the preacher needs to be aware of not only the challenges, but also how to overcome the challenges to be all things to all people in a new work.  Consider the following challenges, as well as ways to overcome them:

Challenge One:  The “Pastor” Perception.  It is foolish to believe that there is not a problem among some members of the church when it comes to the “pastor” perception.  Sadly, there are times that preachers can have the “pastor” perception problem just as much as the members.  The “pastor” perception has reference to the idea that the preacher is the pastor.  Found one time in the New Testament (Eph. 4:11), the English term “pastor” has almost become universally used to mistakenly identify the preacher.  The Greek term poimen, which means “shepherd,” is found seventeen times in the New Testament and refers to those who had the duty to oversee and shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28).  Though the preacher possesses a vital role in the congregation, his role is not that of a shepherd, or pastor.  Rather, his role is that of a preacher and evangelist (2 Tim. 4:2-5).

Unfortunately however, the “pastor” perception is not only a problem among some members.  It is a problem among some preachers.  Some subscribe to the idea of “evangelistic oversight,” which simply means preacher rule.  Scripture does not authorize such a concept, though the preacher does possess the scriptural authority to “speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Tit. 2:15).

While the congregation needs to be educated on the role of the preacher, the preacher can greatly help a congregation to be educated about the role of the preacher.  The preacher can help a congregation greatly by teaching on the various roles, as well as the requirements and responsibilities that exist within the various roles within a congregation.  Perhaps the greatest thing a preacher can do to help avoid the “pastor” perception is to not act as though he is the pastor.

Challenge Two:  “Just The Preacher” Perception.  Just as challenging as the “pastor” perception is the perception that the preacher is “just the preacher.”  This perception is that the preacher is the “hired hand” of the congregation and not a member of the congregation.  Along with this perception is that the preacher has been hired to do the congregation’s evangelism, edification, education, and benevolence.  In some places the thought is that when there is a failure in these areas then it is the preacher’s fault.  Therefore, the congregation needs to hire a new preacher.

What makes this perception a challenge is that it often causes the relationship between the preacher and the members to be professional and never personal.  While preachers must always be careful that no relationship, whether personal or professional, violates Scripture, the relationship a preacher has with a congregation is more than “just a preacher.”  Scripture declares that the relationship Christians share is one in which they have the privilege of “being called the children of God” (1 John 3:1).  Therefore, a preacher is not “just a preacher.”  He is first and foremost a child of God.  The preacher is a member of the church who has the privilege of being a preacher.

From experience, a congregation seeing the preacher wanting to be more than “just the preacher” can help a great deal with the perception the congregation, as well as the community, has of the preacher.  While in preaching school, many students had the privilege of working with area congregations in order to gain experience.  Unfortunately, some congregations, as well as students, often seemed to view this experience as a temporary arrangement.  At times, congregations and students viewed the student as being nothing more than a “preaching student” coming to preach.  Such a view only seemed to be a deterrent to the congregation as well as to the student.  Further, it often resulted in a cycle of preaching students gaining experience but congregations remaining in infancy.  Realizing this, one student “placed membership” with the congregation with which he was working, and agreed to continue laboring with the congregation upon graduation.  The result was that the preacher and the congregation grew together as a family.  Further, it helped both the preacher and the congregation to understand that the preacher was not “just the preacher.”  He was a member of the local congregation, a part of the family.

Like other members of the local congregation, the preacher and his family ought to have just as much interest and involvement in the work of the local congregation lest their lack of such lends to being viewed as “just the preacher” and his family.  Perhaps one of the greatest ways in which a preacher and his family can help avoid the “just the preacher” perception is to “join themselves” to the local congregation (Acts 9:26).

Conclusion:  Other things, such as personal congregational conflict, can make it challenging to be all things to all people in a new work.  However, the preacher can protect himself and his family, as well as the congregation and its purity, by insisting that such problems be addressed scripturally (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:5-13; Gal. 6:1-2; James 5:19-20).  While there may be challenges to being all things to all people, such challenges can be overcome, and as a result the work can be rewarding and bring glory and honor to God.

Edgewood Church of Christ, Greenville, SC

The Challenge To Teach The Truth – Dave Wood

The Proverbs writer once challenged young men to, “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23).

One might wonder why Solomon needed to challenge any young Israelite to appreciate the truth.  Is it possible that Israel suffered from the very issues that plague Christians today?  Namely, there will be times when the truth is not popular and you will be pressured to “sell” it.  Paul would instruct his “child in the faith” to “preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Marshall Keeble explained that preaching the word, as used in this verse was “…preaching when they want to hear it and preaching when they don’t.”

Solomon’s challenge is still pertinent to preachers today: “Buy the truth and sell it not…”

There is considerable pressure for a preacher to just use pleasing words and not disrupt the status quo.  A preacher, however, is a proclaimer of God’s Word.  With that thought in mind a preacher ought always to let God have His say in every lesson and sermon given.  Let us consider this challenge issued by God’s inspiration.

“Buying the truth.”  What should this mean for the preacher, especially the preacher who is involved in a new work?  Naturally with a new work there can be great pressure on the preacher and his family.  This man has many new faces and names to learn and alongside those faces there are personalities for this preacher to understand.  There exists a desire in every man to be accepted and appreciated.  To meet these pressures, a man might think to soften his Sunday morning sermon or to skip certain verses in a Bible class.

But we are to buy the truth, which gives the idea of making an investment.  When it comes to truth (i.e., God’s word, the Bible, the gospel) no expense is too high.  “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Men, in order to “take heed…unto the doctrine” you must know the doctrine.  You must know the truth!  Because you cannot proclaim what you do not know, the challenge is to invest time in studying God’s Word.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Timothy was challenged to study, to give diligence to the truth of God’s Word.  There is a sense of urgency in Paul’s admonition.  Do not put off knowing God’s will, do not put off doing God’s will, and do not put off teaching God’s will!

“Buying the truth” also means that you might, at times, be at odds with people.  In Romans 1:18 Paul described some people as holding down the truth by their unrighteous behavior.  When mankind shrugs off the truth of God’s word they certainly do not appreciate a reminder of God’s counsel.  It becomes offensive to such a darkened heart.  Those at Galatia had listened to false teaching and Paul reminded them again of the truth.  “For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

If there is a choice to make between pleasing God or men, make sure to please God.  It is difficult to know which way the winds of men are blowing.  What is popular one day has perished tomorrow, but truth is always right.  The preacher’s challenge is to buy the truth.

Solomon’s warning is two-fold.  It is not enough to make an investment in the truth, but never, ever sell it.  In other words, the challenge given is to not be a sell-out.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, had a problem.  The Israelites were coming.  Balak had heard about a man who lived a long way from the Moabites, in Mesopotamia.  Balaam was a man whose talents were for hire.  do you remember this man?  Balaam had a reputation for blessing people or cursing people.  His reputation was such that representatives in Moab would make the journey to Mesopotamia to secure the services of Balaam.  Balaam had a great opportunity to stand firmly with the Lord and he wasted it.  Both 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11 mention Balaam and how he sold the truth for financial gain.  This man had a price.  Do you?  Do not sell the truth, no matter what!

A preacher sells the truth when he fails to teach all of God’s commands.  Paul confidently declared to the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

When Paul declared the whole counsel of God, was there anything that he left out?  What would happen if Paul felt fear of being rejected and shunned?  Preachers have put a price tag on godly counsel by refusing to preach on Matthew 19:9 where Jesus stated there is only one reason which a person can seek a divorce and be remarried without living in adultery.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they add to God’s word by teaching that the inclusion of mechanical musical instruments in worship is acceptable to God.  This is not God’s counsel because there is no authority for it anywhere in the New Testament.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they bind their own scruples on others.  There are those who feel it is wrong to eat “in the church,” so they wrest and twist the scriptures to their satisfaction.  Either way, whether a preacher is taking away from the counsel of God or adding to the counsel of God, he has auctioned off the truth.

There are members of the church who will attempt to persuade preachers to teach and preach their own way.  There is only one thing that will save souls and that is the pure, unadulterated gospel of God.  Consider Paul’s thesis statement for the book of Romans:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

To hear some preachers teach, it is obvious that they think their abilities are the power to salvation, because in their lessons they make more references to their personal stories than to scripture.

There is one path that is always right, there is one message that is always true, and it is found in the Bible, not in the minds of men.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

The challenge stands to everyone in the Lord’s body, whether preacher, teacher, elder, or deacon: buy the truth, and sell it not.  Now what will you do?

Broad Street Church of Christ, Statesville, NC