Jump Start # 1576
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Onward we journey in our series about preaching and preachers. Today, we look at the expression, “do the work of an evangelist.” Preaching is a work. It needs to be seen as that. Anyone who thinks it’s a easy way to make a buck, please do us all a favor and do something else. A man’s heart must be in preaching to be the kind of person that God expects and wants. The reality of preaching is that there is little time off. The preacher works during the week and he works every weekend. With people working in the days, the preacher will have studies and visits in the evening. His day is filled. If he is honest he will bust it for the Lord. Many write their own class material. Many are going out of their way to do things that they wouldn’t have to do but they do, because they want to make things better. That’s the drive and the heart of preaching.
There has been some who have not understood this. Without a time clock, without folks down at the church building, the preacher could play around all week and throw together some simple thoughts on a Saturday evening, or worse yet, just borrow a sermon from the internet, without developing it himself, preach it on Sunday, and no one knows, but the preacher and the Lord. The laziness will catch up with such a person. The congregation will suffer. The preacher, since he is so visible each week, has a huge part in setting the atmosphere of the place. Is it friendly, warm, and inviting—the preacher has something to do in it becoming like that. Is it cold, distant and stiff, again, the preacher has something to do with that. He alone, isn’t responsible for all of that, but he sure plays a big role.
Do the work of an evangelist. What is that work? It is preaching and teaching God’s word. It is doing that publicly and it is doing that privately. It is using every tool, media and resource that he can to get the word of God out.
His job is not to save souls. God does that. He is to teach and preach. So don’t measure his success by the number baptized. Remember Noah—he only saved his family. If Noah was preaching today, many would fire him for being a failure. We must be careful with such thoughts.
His job is not to solve all the problems in the church. Some can’t be solved because the people involved do not what them to be solved. He is to preach and teach.
His job is not to be the administrator, office manager, or CEO of the complex. I’ve known churches that wanted the preacher to cut the yard, fix the copier machine and change the furnace filters. That’s not his job. If he wants to do that because he’s nice, that’s fine. But don’t fuss because he doesn’t. Why don’t you do that? His job is to preach and teach.
His job is not to take the contribution to the bank every Monday. He is to preach and teach.
His job is not to run people to the airport because everyone else is working. What do you think the preacher is doing? Obviously, not working.
His job is not to run errands for others, take people to the doctor, or watch pets while people are on vacation. He is to do the work of an evangelist.
Good churches will understand that. Good churches will recognize the work that he is doing. If the preacher is doing his work, folks won’t be asking, “what is he doing all the time?” If he is really doing his work well, the people might say, “You ought to slow down some preacher.” But he can’t and he won’t.
There seems to be a need to put more thought into the process of hiring a preacher. The typical doctrinal questions are often asked and if he passes the test and the church can afford him, it’s pretty much a done deal if they like his “try out” sermon. Maybe what they ought to be asking about is his work habits. What’s a typical week like for you, Mr. Preacher? How often are you golfing, Mr. Preacher? Ask others about his work. Is he on the phone all day talking and gossiping with other preachers? Is he self driven? Does he have goals? What’s his plans in five years? Personally? For the church? What books is he reading these days? Is he moody? Does he get depressed easily? Is he sickly? Does he need a lot of time off? Does he whine about things? Can he recognize what a church needs and provide that? Is he answering questions that no one is asking anymore? Are his sermons, ideas and thoughts dated? Is he stuck in the 1970’s? Does he take suggestions from elders? Can he work with elders? Is he a team player?
I think many places could avoid problems if they asked these kinds of questions. I remember talking to one group of elders years ago. The very first question they asked was, “How much money did I need?” I felt that ought to have been one of the last questions. It seems that all these other things didn’t matter. Sadly, some churches will allow any male who has breath in his body to stand up in the pulpit. Some do not belong in the pulpit. Some have a record of messes everywhere they have been. In our Bibles, only certain people could be an apostle. Only certain people can be an elder. But it seems that just about anyone can preach, and they usually do! There have been way too many church problems that were caused or surrounded the preacher. Shame on us for that. Preach and teach. Remember that old saying, “Hide yourself behind the cross?” Some of us, have stuck our heads out around that cross. We’ve drawn too much attention to ourselves. We have become bossy and demanding. We want this and that and threaten to leave if we do not get our way. Do the work of an evangelist. Preach and teach, preacher. That’s what we are to do.
Strong churches come from strong members who have been fed a steady diet of God’s word. Preach and teach. That’s our work, preacher. Do it face to face. Do it from the pulpit. Do it in small classes during the week. Do it in homes. Do it on Facebook and blogs. Do it in emails and phone calls. Don’t limit your work to just the neighborhood surrounding the church building. Teach those who may never attend where you are. Teach those across the country. Teach those across the seas. But in doing that, don’t forget those who live across the street.
Hard working preachers are my heroes. I love them. They are impressive. They are doing what they love. They are doing what they ought to be doing.
Some of the finger pointing that folks do to preachers comes from a misunderstanding of what the preacher is to do. We expect the preacher to do things that is not his work. We expect more out of him than we do ourselves. We want him at the hospital visiting, while we stay home and watch TV. We want him to have the Bible class lesson all done, while we haven’t even looked at our lesson. We want him to invite the lost, when we never do that ourselves. And when the church looks like it is not growing, the cry comes to change preachers. We never think, “It’s time to get rid of some members.” The preacher works with the congregation. He is not to do your work. He is not to raise your kids. You are. He is not to solve all your worries. You are, through faith. Stop blaming the preacher for things he is not supposed to do. And when the budget isn’t being met, the cry goes forth, “cut his pay.” Would you sit quietly through that at work?
The hard working preacher needs to be praised, supported and helped. The lazy preacher needs to be shown the door.
Do the work. That’s it.