For whom does a preacher work? Is he hired to work for the local congregation and do their
bidding? Or is the preacher supported by the congregation as he does the work of God?
At first glance, for most people these seems to be asking the same question in two different
ways. Ideally, they would be. However, they approach the position of the preacher from two
Take a look again at these questions:
For whom does the preacher work?
When Paul speaks to Timothy about his responsibility and work as a preacher and/or
evangelist, in both of his letters to Timothy he uses the phrase “I charge you before God” (1
Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:1). It is a responsibility before God to “do the work of an evangelist,
make full proof of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). He is working for God (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Is he hired to work for the local congregation and do their bidding?
This is the concept of many churches. They ask for applications like they are hiring a clerk
for the local hardware store. They list a criteria of qualifications which would eliminate most
if not all of the evangelists of the New Testament, the apostles of Jesus Christ, and the
Savior, himself: education, marital status, children, prison record, level of eloquence, and
ability to get along with everyone.
Education is a wonderful thing. However, it depends upon what your education taught you. A
preacher needs to be educated in the Word of God.
Does that mean a degree from a seminary? A doctorate may be impressive on a resume, but
it can have no bearing on whether the individual may “speak as the oracles of God.”
I spoke to a seminary student in Arizona several years ago who although he had obtained a
bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was working on his doctorate, had never read the New
Testament, let alone the Bible, all the way through.
I have recently run into former preachers of the truth, who because of their seminary
education have left the truth.
Does a college education or a preacher training school education necessarily give the proper
education? Depends upon the school and the student.
Does forty years of studying the Bible give the proper education? Can the proper instruction
be received from God’s Word? Unquestionably, it is the proper subject, but again it depends
upon the student.
Even those instructed by the apostles did not always have the proper concept of the truth –
not because they were taught wrong, but because of the heart of the student.
Marital status should be scriptural – whether it is single (as were Paul and Timothy) or
married (as was Peter). The idea of team preaching with husband and wife is contrary to
I was once asked what my wife will do to support my ministry. I asked what their wives did.
Their reply was you are not hiring us. I replied, you are not hiring my wife.
The idea is that the church can dictate what the wife will do because she is part of “the
package deal.” I realize that preacher’s wives have created problems, but so have members’
We want someone with children. Why? So your children will have someone to play with? This
idea doesn’t make sense.
If the local church was given an application that included an arrest record of several
occasions where jail time was assessed they would drop it quicker than a hot potato. Would
they hire Paul?
Eloquence is nice. Apollos was eloquent; but Paul was not. Eloquence does not equal
knowledge nor effectiveness. Truthfulness to the word is preferable.
The ability to get along with others – at what cost? Preaching the truth – from the prophets to
the apostles – upset people. Preaching the truth still upsets people. Read the Gospels. Read
the Book of Acts. Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:21. Do we want the truth or peace at any price?
Yes, there is a need for amiability – but not at the cost of the truth. The wisdom that is from
above is first pure, then peaceable.
Congregations hire preachers to do what they want done. Many times, way too many times,
that means their attitude is like my doctor in Arizona: he hired his preacher to do his religion.
Churches hire preachers to practice their Christianity for them. He is to visit the sick. He is to
help the poor. He is to teach the lost. He is to do everything they are supposed to do: after all,
they pay him don’t they. He is the slave of the church, and of every member in particular, to
jump at their bidding.
In addition to these scriptural services, he is also to provide an entertainment service for the
children and the adults, acting as an activities director. He directs camps, holds parties,
schedules trips (shopping and sight-seeing for the adults – ski trips, movies, white water
rafting and amusement parks for the kids of all ages). He is also to act as athletic director
and coach for golf, softball, volleyball, soccer and basketball teams. Can you see Paul,
Barnabas, Apollos, Peter, Timothy or Titus doing this in the scriptures?
And then we wonder why his sermons are so shallow, and he does not spend more time in
preparation. And why doesn’t he spend more time with his wife and children?
He is begrudged any time preaching the gospel for meetings and revivals. He is being paid to
work for the local congregation.
He needs to account for every minute of every day, and must work a minimum of six days
per week, twelve hours per day, because if he expects others to work their jobs and do
“church work” too, he must set an example. And Sundays and Wednesday nights may not
count towards that because everyone is to be there anyway.
And all of this ought to be done on less than any of the members take home. They don’t stop
to think of the 20% social security that comes out of the check, the state and local and federal
tax (including the fair rental value of the home “provided for free”), the need for retirement
and health insurance and life insurance, the cost of maintaining the knowledge they want him
to have, the cost of operating his vehicle for business use, the lack of equity and security and
freedom created by living in a church supplied house (which increases the social security).
Not to mention the aggravation of living in a home that half the congregation believes is their
home and tell you how to clean, decorate and arrange the furniture: not to mention that they
feel free to schedule everything in “the church’s home.”
Or is the preacher supported by the congregation as he does the work of God?
With this approach the preacher and the congregation work together to do the work of God.
He and they are the servants of God, the ministers of God. Neither one “works” for the other,
both work for God and serve one another.
The primary consideration for the church is the soundness of the preacher: does he teach
the truth in love, proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Does he fill the responsibility that God
has given to the preacher and/or evangelist (2 Corinthians 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; etc.)
Qualification are to be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and
prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith,
charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned
questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not
strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that
oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of
the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken
captive by him at his will” (KJV – 2 Timothy 2:21-26).
The church, then, rather than looking at someone who works for them, looks at someone
who is working with them, whom they will support and help.
“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
(KJV – Galatians 6:6)
“Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not
of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these
things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses,
Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for
oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he
that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his
hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal
things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we
have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do
ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and
they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that
they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things:
neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me
to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have
nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the
gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of
the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the
gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the
gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might
gain the more.” (KJV – 1 Corinthians 9:7-19)
The preacher is not the hireling of the church, he is a preacher of the glorious gospel of Jesus
Christ – a co-worker for the Lord, no better, but no worse than any other member of the
He is to fulfill his duty to God. That is his concern: to instruct saint and sinner in the Word of
the Lord. If he does this, he has not time for frivolous matters.
PREACH THE WORD.