Elders: On How to Fire the Preacher

fired (1)I get emails —

Having grown up in a different tribe, it seems common among churches of Christ for the elders to get rid of the preacher periodically. I would be interested in your observations. Also, this usually seems to be a unilateral decision by the elders, often shocking the members. That doesn’t seem right to me. Thanks.

I have something like 10 years as an elder. I’ve been in church leadership nearly my entire adult life. And this is a very common reaction. And I don’t know an alternative.

First, in Churches of Christ, like all denominations with autonomous congregations, the elders (deacons in Baptist churches) have the power to hire and fire the preacher. Some denominations have no eldership and leave it up the congregation as a whole or the adult men. But Churches of Christ are far from unusual.

Churches with an “episcopalian” structure believe in apostolic succession, and so the preacher is usually hired and fired by a higher supervisor, typically a bishop for the local diocese — and there are many variations on the theme.

Now, in a Church of Christ, suppose the elders are unhappy with the preacher’s job performance. They’ve counseled with him. They’ve prayed with and for him. They’ve done what they know how to do to get him to do a better job. And they’ve slowly come to realize that the man they love is just not right for the job. He may not have done some overt awful act. He’s just not a good fit. He isn’t able to do what the elders believe the church needs to be done.

So what is the process for terminating him? Well, most elders meet with the preacher, terminate him, and then announce it to the church. But, of course, if the elders keep their mouths shut before then, it comes as a complete surprise to the congregation.

How can that be avoided? Should the elders play politics and discretely let word of the firing slip? Should they talk behind the preacher’s back, complaining of his job performance to a few non-elders, in hopes that rumors spread and the church is prepared for the termination? Should they hold a hearing and ask for congregational input, even though they know 100 times more about the minister and his job performance than the members?

When they fire him, should they announce to the congregation the entire performance review process? The meetings? The prayer sessions? The requests for better performance and the disappointments? I mean, do you want to be the preacher sitting there when the elders spend 20 minutes detailing his deficiencies to the church? Most elders don’t have the heart to do that.

What if the preacher asks to be given the opportunity to resign — so he has a better chance of getting hired at a church where he’s a better fit? Do the elders kindly permit this? Or is this dishonest to the church? Is the church entitled to know what really happened — even though this means the preacher may become unemployable? In the age of social media and cheap long-distance calls, word spreads across the country literally at the speed of light. The church will not keep their knowledge confidential. The elders will have texts from 12 states away before they can order Sunday lunch.

So I don’t know the answer. Obviously, the optimal solution is that the minister works out and he stays until he retires. Or he leaves when “called” to another job. No elder wants to go through a preacher termination.

I guess the second choice is that the preacher can be rehabilitated. Hopefully, he can be persuaded to raise his game to whatever the elders’ expectations are. And sometimes that happens. Some preachers can grow in office and become much better at their jobs than when they began.

But not all of them.

Let’s take a difficult case. The preacher is a good speaker and teacher, and he is organized and a good counselor. But somehow, his kindness and gentleness at work come at the price of hatefulness to his wife and children. The church never sees this. Only a very few who are close to the family — such as the elders. The elders see this plainly, but the preacher and his family hide it from the church and are very well practiced at doing so.

The preacher is counseled by professionals, and does not get better. His hatefulness at home is deeply rooted, and the counselors fail to solve the problem. The family is living a lie. The preacher doesn’t practice what he preaches, and the elders know that the church couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him if they knew how he behaved in private. The hypocrisy is too much for them to bear, and they decide to terminate him — with generous severance, continued benefits, and every effort being made to see that he continues to get help.

What do you tell the church? How do you keep them from being shocked? Or do you leave him in the pulpit?

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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25 Responses to Elders: On How to Fire the Preacher

  1. “The preacher doesn’t practice what he preaches” Sounds like the preacher is just like the rest of us. Hmm, perhaps he is the best person to teach the rest of us about sin, forgiveness, and grace.

    “The hypocrisy is too much for them to bear” Notice here that it is not the preacher who cannot bear the presence of sin, but the Elders. Who has the bigger problem, the sinner or other people?

    Sorry to turn this upside down or something, but it seems that this is a case where the Elders believe that grace is upon all of us except the preacher.

    Of course this is a terrible situation! Of course it is where love and prayer are needed, but don’t we all need that?

    Now let’s make this difficult situation REALLY DIFFICULT. Do we believe that God changes lives? Do we really believe that or do we feel that works for everyone but this preacher? How do we pray and love and forgive enough so that God changes everyone involved?

  2. Bill says:

    Jay, I think you paint a pretty rosy picture of how CofC preachers are fired. If only it happened the way you describe you probably wouldn’t have received the question that you did. I suspect what prompted the question is the more common way in which preachers are fired. They are called in on a Tuesday night unaware of what the meeting is about, a list of charges and accusations is levied and preacher is fired on the spot and often times not given a farewell sermon to preach for fear that he is going to be unprofessional. No counseling, no offer of rehabilitation, no conversation and no prayer.

    Just recently, a preacher was called in on a Wednesday night after class and fired. Told to have his office empty by Friday, his replacement was already hired. No warning. A personal friend of mine was called to an elder meeting on Monday night to discuss the future of the church. The elders began the meeting by saying that the future of said church did not include him as minister.

    Jay, I am afraid that this is the more common way that preacher’s in our fellowship are fired. I thin the reason it shocks the congregation so much is that often times the preacher has a very high approval rating and elders are so out of touch with the church that they are acting on the complaints of a very few in their peer group.

    Yes, there is moral failure and preachers need to be fired. There are stubborn preachers who refuse to accept correction and criticism that need to be encouraged to move on. It’s never easy, but we can do better.

  3. Bill says:

    And then there’s the preacher that in November is given a raise and his his Sabbatical plan approved for the following summer that is called in in December to meet with the elders. They ask him to get up and announce that he has decided to resign.
    Just out of the blue. No job lined up, no moral failure, no issues just, decided that his wife and kids didn’t really need to eat anymore. Where is the Christian Character in that?

    Now, to their credit and in his wisdom he told them that it would devastate the church so he negotiated time to find a job and then announce his resignation.

  4. Mark says:

    I once sent word to a minister that I had the feeling he would be replaced once a man got out the military who was a “lay” preacher. The nice minister resigned in the next two years or so and went elsewhere before this fellow got out of the military never revealing one of his reasons for leaving. I sensed that the rulers of the congregation (via a “men’s business meeting,” not an eldership) wanted to take care of their family member, and I did not want to see the minister get run off.

    Bill, as for out of touch elders, I have seen that happen too many times.

    The other thing that happens is the opposite situation where the minister needs to be fired or counseled and the elders won’t do it. They sense that he (as is the case in almost all cofC congregations) is doing a really good job for their faction of people who are mostly over 60. Now, the youth don’t get taught by this minister at all, the young (under 30) get nothing useful in the sermon, pastoral care is not extended to anyone under 50, and most sense he isn’t there for anyone but the ruling class.

    Now what does one do here? Options are 1) hire a second minister, male or female, for everyone outside the ruling class, provided there is enough money, 2) start a second service conducted by the minister to the younger people basically dividing the church but sharing the same building, 3) hire a lobbying firm to talk to the elders, 4) lobby the biggest donors to go their elder friends and explain that it is their children and grandchildren who are being neglected using the biblical argument of the Grecian widows, 5) go right to the preacher but knowing it will put him in a bad situation that could get him fired if he upsets the elders and older people by doing more for the young, or 6) something else or a combination of these?

  5. David Himes says:

    All of this makes a great case against full-time preachers!
    It is very difficult to know how to make this work in real life. It can be done, but it’s very hard.

  6. Christopher says:

    If the problem with the preacher is sin (such as hatefulness towards his family), why treat it as a preacher problem rather than a believer problem? Is that the approach Paul took with Peter? If is it is his job performance, is there not any task most anyone can learn in time? Were not the apostles unschooled, ordinary men?

  7. I am afraid this is too much like the fellow who decides to go shirtless and then seeks everywhere for a cure for sunburn. Elders delegate the day to day operations to a professional meeting speaker, because they are not willing to make the professional and personal sacrifices necessary to really shepherd the sheep themselves in the structure they have created. They reduce themselves to a board of directors with a hired CEO who is almost never even considered competent enough to serve on that board. This is not a “church” issue, per se, but a Christian Club management issue.

    It points out a structural flaw in the way we organize our clubs. We exalt a man to leadership, give him almost no actual authority, then when he fails to meet expectations, we cut him down like a tree, and then work on damage control. Then we repeat the process. The fact that this happens so often is the red flashing light. What is the average tenure of a preacher? Three years? Five? Less? When turnover is this high, it is a sign of bad management, whether that failure is personal or structural. Having spent many years observing management in the Christian Clubs, in the private sector, and in social service organizations, I think the failure is almost always structural. We set ourselves up to fail, over and over again, by thinking our structures are immutable because they come from scripture, when our very fundamental structure of competing Clubs in the local religious marketplace is not at all from scripture. It can only follow that our club management structures are our invention as well, and not God’s.

    I think we are going to have to make an almost impossible admission. Our local Club is our own. WE built it; WE own it; WE operate it; it lives or dies based on OUR efforts and decisions. It is filled with members of the Church, with children of God. But, as its membership excludes most of the believers in the community, it can hardly be called “a church”. (In fact, that very combination of article and noun is, in itself, quite oxymoronic.) We have built a Christian Club, with all the positives and negatives that this term entails. Setting aside the negatives, this can be a very good thing, and it can serve both its members and its community. Our club can be a light and hope to those around us both by sharing the message of the Gospel and demonstrating its power. But as long as we refuse to acknowledge what WE have made, we will not effectively be able to make needed changes to help us accomplish our mission, to the glory of God.

    The image in my mind is of a modern combine harvester being towed by a team of oxen. Until you acknowledge what that tool is, you will never really enjoys its benefits.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwayne,

    In any employment situation, in or out of church, we must be careful to distinguish between whether someone is forgiven and whether someone is qualified for the job.

    If you were to hire me as your song leader, I’d try hard and be just awful. I’d apologize and beg your forgiveness. I’m sure I’d receive it. Does that mean I get to keep the job? No — I’m a lousy songleader even if I’m forgiven for my lousiness.

    What are the qualifications for a preacher? Well, opinions vary, but a very typical preacher job description includes being a good husband and father — which is quite unlike most secular jobs but matters at church. In most churches, ministers are expected to preach, teach, and counsel marriage and parenting skills — and demonstrate by example good parenting and good “husbanding.” Not perfect. Not ideal. But good.

    And most elderships would grade on a curve based on age and experience. We’d expect someone married 20 years to be better at it than a newlywed. The inevitable mistakes of inexperience are different from deeply entrenched wicked behaviors that continue despite counseling.

    If he’s emotionally abusive to his wife, he needs counseling (by pros, not just the elders). If counseling doesn’t fix it, I don’t want him in the pulpit. We all mess up in dealing with our wives. None of us is the ideal husband. But there does come a point where his personal life impacts his professional life.

    Among NFL athletes, spousal abuse now gets you suspended, potentially even ending your career — although spouse abuse has nothing to do with on-field performance. But NFL athletes are professional entertainers, and people won’t buy tickets to see players that they find repugnant. It’s the price of a highly public, high profile job. (Charles will note that I’m comparing a preacher to an athlete in that both are entertainers — more precisely, in that both do what they do before a crowd, in a public setting, that will not return if they find the athlete or preacher repugnant.)

    No preacher enters the ministry under the illusion that his personal life is irrelevant to his career.

    Now, the same is true of elders. Elders don’t generally preach, but they do teach and the willingness of the church to follow their leadership is a job requirement.

    Elders who are abusive to their spouses shouldn’t be elders. If it’s a recurring behavior, and the wife forgives her husband 70 x 7 times, he’s still not qualified for the position. It’s a question of character as well as the willingness of people to follow.

    None of us is perfect, but some of us are so broken that no rational person would follow us as a leader in church — even if we’re forgiven of our brokenness.

    The qualifications lists in Titus and 1 Timothy make it clear that elders and deacons are held to higher standards. Teachers are also held to a higher standard, according to James. The Timothy and Titus lists deal very specifically with the elder’s or deacon’s family life. And yet we’re all sinners. And we’re all forgiven. But we’re not all qualified to lead.

    And the same apostolic logic applies to preachers. Indeed, as noted in other comments, wise elders include their preacher in most of their deliberations because their job descriptions substantially overlap. All have pastoral duties. All have teaching duties. All have to be qualified to lead — and one is not qualified to lead if no one is willing to follow.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bill,

    You make good points and I think I agree with them all.

    Charles Siburt (whom I greatly miss) advised elders to do 360-degree reviews, meaning an annual review that takes input from all directions — other staff members, church members, etc. The process requires the elders to ask the preacher for the names of people most familiar with his job performance, and then the elders ask for input from some others — so the preacher knows the right people are asked but the preacher doesn’t get to control who is asked.

    We’ve tried it. It’s a lot of work — and you have to promise confidentiality to some for them to talk. This is not a Matt 18 thing because we’re not trying the preacher for sin; we’re evaluating him as an employee — and the elders don’t get to follow him around during the week — and so they have to ask around for other input to really know.

    The theory is to avoid judging the preacher based on a single hallway conversation where the elders get only one or two members’ input — or don’t hear about truly horrible conduct until they’ve promised the guy a raise and a Sabbatical.

    But it’s a lot of trouble, and many preachers object. Some preachers just don’t like accountability of any kind. Others fear an unfair process — even though this is the most fair process I know. Some are control freaks. Some have been burned by elders and fear the idea of any kind of “review.” Some correctly point out that the elders should be providing continuous feedback, which should make the review unnecessary. Well, they’re right that elders should provide continuous feedback, but the elders typically have only a very limited awareness of what the preacher does and how well he does it. They have fulltime jobs. They only see the preacher in meetings and when he’s “on” at church. They don’t see his interaction with junior staff, member volunteers, etc.

    So I hate the entire HR aspect of eldering. It’s time consuming and distracts from every other duty. And yet if we’re going to employ staff, we’re going to have HR duties.

    I know one church that got large enough to hire a full time HR person over the junior staff. I’m sure both the preacher and the elders toast the day that hire was made.

    Some churches hire an executive or administrative person to run staff and handle other such tasks. Again, it would be great — but it takes a big church to need and afford such a person.

    The Baptists often form personnel or HR committees of members trained in those fields. I’m beginning to think they may be wise in so doing.

  10. This post amplifies all of the issues that “the church” has become in my opinion. Let’s speak truth here. We have turned the duty of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ into just another occupation that for the most part requires a college degree. As a result, many enter it simply for the money. Is it possible that perhaps, we may have a lot of unregenerated people that we are selecting to lead our congregations?

    And are we responsible for turning the gospel into just another business, an organization that requires professional managers to make sure it operates as smoothly as possible? If that’s what we’ve done, I think we’ve somehow missed what the church was supposed to be about in the first place. I am a part time and bi-vocational preacher and at this point would never considered jumping into the “full time ministry”. My opinion, we’re supposed to be preachers, not business managers.

  11. It is hard to criticize young people going to school to become hirelings as long as we keep hiring them AS hirelings. We have created an industry for servants to whom we can delegate our service to God, at bargain rates. These folks are filling our need. When we have created enough of these hirelings, we have the problems that go with managing hirelings, so we bring on staff who are no longer even nominally “ministers” but pure administrators, hired solely for their management skills. Soon, the Christian Club begins to resemble any other large business, with the exception that we have shifted our corporate vision from enabling our members to go into all the world, and have instead adopted the raison d’etre of getting and keeping enough members to continue to support our activity levels.

    In this religion business, the large and successful clubs have finally closed the circle, becoming our own customers, consumers of religious thought, finding it enough to go to our local religion mall to find every religious product our hearts desire. We shop, we buy, we consume, we come back next week to repeat the process. The function of the mall has become to continue to provide a satisfying inventory of religious product that will hopefully keep our existing clientele and perhaps even attract more from other retailers.

    Reading over what I have written, I am chagrined at my own words But I am more disappointed that I cannot take back my cynical words and say it was all a lie.

  12. Bill says:

    David, someone who decides to become a CofC preacher “for the money” has a whole different set of issues! Maybe insanity!

  13. Bill says:

    Thank you for taking the time respond. None of it’s easy. There are good elders and good preachers and there are bad elders and bad preachers.

  14. Even though my take on this is slightly off topic, let me share what we do.

    We have elders and members who preach and teach, lead songs, preside over the Lord’s Table free of charge. I have been teaching for over 20 years. Others have been doing so for over 30 years.

    It never occurred to us to take money for working in the Lord’s vineyard/church/kingdom. Some of us have worked with our own hands (at secular jobs/professions) to provide for ourselves and others. We believe this is how it was done at the outset. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8) and Paul reminded Christians of how he had worked with his hands to provide for himself and those in need (Acts 20:34; 1 Cor.4:12; 1 Thess.4:11). Do we read of professional preachers/elders anywhere in the Bible? Of course, the Bible does speak of “The worker is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18), but I believe that it is a privilege and an honor to serve the Lord’s redeemed because in so doing, we serve our Lord. He pays us in more ways than we can count.

  15. jon atkins says:

    Jay—this article brings two thoughts to my mind—might not be what you’re looking for, but I’ll share them anyway.

    First, I once heard a hockey commentator say that an NHL coach has a three-year window: when first hired, everybody’s on fire & listens to him, but after three years, the players tune him out because they’ve heard it all before. It struck me that’s the case with preachers—a new one offers something different and gets the members excited, but at some point they become so familiar with him it seems like he’s just saying the same thing over & over again. (Even for preachers who continue to study & learn, there’s a point of diminishing returns so that it seems like he has little new to offer.) But instead of admitting it, we (maybe subconsciously) come up with reasons why he should go—“not friendly enough, lazy, teaching error,” etc.—that leads to a nasty firing. I’m wondering whether denominations that don’t have a congregational structure may be on to something when they rotate ministers in & out of a local congregation after a few years. I doubt Churches of Christ could work out some sort of rotation like that, or even acknowledge an understanding that a minister’s term should only last a period of years before he moves on to somewhere else—but it’s pretty much what many churches are already doing, even though we don’t admit it.

    Second, if you haven’t done so already (I haven’t had the chance to look through the archives), I hope at some point you’ll have an article on firing elders. Not for light & transient causes or for minor scriptural disagreements, but I wonder whether I Timothy 5: 19 does approve a process for removing elders who clearly have committed a serious infraction. I’m thinking of a case in which an elder threatened physical assault against a member in the presence of several other members; he never apologized to the member or publicly repented, and the rest of the eldership “covered up” the incident (probably because he was on “their side” of several issues). Most of those who witnessed this sin ended up leaving the congregation. From what I’ve studied, I think it would have been appropriate for them to go before the congregation and ask for him to repent and resign (and probably along with the elders who wouldn’t hold him accountable). Maybe I’m wrong, and I suspect you’ve thought about this subject much more than I have. Given that one of the problems facing the CofC is a concept of elders as pope-like authorities who can’t be questioned (and that too often serve as a board of directors rather than as pastoral teachers), a lesson on whether & when they can be removed might be worthwhile.

    In any case, thanks for reading these thoughts, and thanks for your columns—I very much enjoy reading them.

  16. Alabama John says:

    Jon, that is the way its done in many of the COC. Time limits, usually 3 years with the option to renew if everyone involved, Elders, Preachers and Members all agree.
    You see that time limit is already being followed by many members where there is no time limit on Preachers and Elders since they leave for a new Preacher at about that same time limit.

  17. jon atkins says:

    Alabama John–that’s good to know–I’ve never known a congregation to do that & didn’t know any did. It sounds like something more congregations should practice, or at least explore–thanks for the info!

  18. James says:

    Many, if not most, preachers never consider themselves as “members” of the congregation where they preach. I’ve heard more than one say they don’t develop friendships with people in the congregation, and if they are invited to social events, others seem uncomfortable with them being there. The elders consider preachers as outsiders, and the preachers do, too.

  19. Dwight says:

    Maybe preachers shouldn’t be hired, but supported and in this support they are given the ability to preach to others in or outside the congregation and spend much of their time on the lost. We create the office of preacher when we hire one, but preachers are to be free range teachers growing the kingdom.

  20. GATidwell says:

    Jay;

    I agree with the direction you have taken on this point. One small clarification, Baptists normally run their congregations by majority vote of the members. The board of deacons in a few of their congregations have the power to hire or fire the preacher, but this is only if the congregation as a whole allows the deacons to have this power.

    For all the comments others have made about a preacher being fired with no warning, I have more often seen the other side, that of a preacher blindsiding his elders by leaving with no warning.

    (I say this as someone who has never been an elder, but is a preacher who has stayed with his congregation for 32 years.)

  21. Mark says:

    As for “a preacher blindsiding his elders by leaving with no warning,” in the private sector, if one says that (s)he is (thinking about) applying elsewhere or has an interview, the person is frequently fired on the spot, network access revoked immediately, and escorted off the premises by guards so that the company’s intellectual property remains protected. Sometimes the religious sector is not much different than the private sector.

  22. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Reading through this post and the responses, I find it no wonder at all that most preachers I have ever known have expressed the feeling that it is difficult to find and form friendships with church members. What is it about this preacher position/office/assignment that engenders a predisposition to isolation of this “leader”?

    Look at the questions being asked in the post. Substitute your own job title everywhere those questions mention the “preacher” and then answer the question as if your own job depends on your answer. How does the process of doing this make YOU feel? Would you think the person asking those questions is trying to be YOUR friend? Jesus was known to be a “friend of sinners.” Is there any danger of that accusation being proven by the way YOU treat YOUR preacher?

    When was the last time your congregation called a member raised among your number to be your preacher? What are the significant differences between Christian leaders and Christians who are led by them? Do you have a sound,scripture-supported basis for calling a person to be your preacher? What is the basis for your expectations? Is it experience (everybody kinda does it like this)? Is it tradition (this is how we’ve always done it around here)? Is it something Jesus taught? Something from Paul or Peter?

    How many of you ARE or HAVE BEEN preachers? Elders? Deacons?

    Are you comfortable with the idea that ALL Christian leaders should be subject to recall on a similar basis to the way we hire and fire preachers? If not, why not?

    Finally, Jesus calls ALL disciples to “love one another as I (Jesus) have loved you.” Who did Jesus terminate? How did He do it? Why isn’t that the default methodology for us? When we follow anything other than what Jesus did, are we still following Him?

  23. Larry Cheek says:

    As a business owner, I see that none of my employees would have been loyal to my company if the relationship between myself and them was like the relationship between the management and preachers being expressed in these communications. The relationships are not even displaying an example of teamwork that is applied in sports in the physical world. Is there any wonder why the world sees the church in a negative aspect?

  24. Larry Cheek says:

    This even spurned another thought. How many arguments do we read about between the Apostles, or other leaders of the church which Jesus was establishing. It seems to me that the church was in unison against the other religious beliefs. I guess this would be considered as an argumentative event, but was Alexander a follower of Christ?
    2Ti 4:14-15 ESV Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Glenn,

    The elder/preacher relationship is a hard one. And the way we do it, it’s almost designed to fail.

    1. Elders are part-time, untrained volunteers.
    2. They are asked to supervise someone with a full-time job, more specialized training, doing things the elders likely can’t do.
    3. Some in the congregation believe the preacher should be paid starvation wages — that’s he’s taken an implied vow or poverty or something.
    4. Some in the congregation want to know the preacher’s pay, so they can second guess the salary decisions, although they know nothing about the market for preacher salaries and assume he’ll work for whatever they say.
    5. Some in the congregation want the elders and preach to work as a unit. Some get bent out of shape when the preacher meets with the elders. Others want the elders to counsel but get mad when the preacher doesn’t counsel. The preacher should visit the sick, but so should the elders, because the sick need 8 people to visit them while they’re in the hospital.
    6. The preacher should preach two sermons and teach two classes, counsel, recruit volunteers, write curriculum, supervise the staff, not micromanage, not run off the popular youth minister with Peter Pan syndrome who only plays ping pong and comes in late but is loved by the kids, who aren’t being discipled but really enjoy ping pong …
    7. We aren’t even sure it’s scripturally authorized to have a preacher, but if we were to go 90 days without a professional speaker in the pulpit, we’d complain about “not being fed.”
    8. Of all the members of the congregation, the elders are likely the ones who care least about the preaching for their own sakes, because to them, church life isn’t centered on the assembly — it’s in their prayer meetings, counseling, teaching, etc. The assembly is just a place to be with the flock and listen and talk with them. But they try to please the members who see “church” = “assembly” = “the sermon.”
    9. We have a theology for fellowship halls and for missionary societies but no theology for what the preacher is for other than expedience — which we’ve never really felt good about.

    It’s a tough calling.

    (Matt. 11:16-19 ESV) 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

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