Professional Clergy or Men of God?

While  running a small business I often made this comment, “A man should not be allowed to serve as president of the United States until he has dealt with the problems associated with small business and made payroll at the end of the week.”  My point was there had to be some real, practical experience gained before any man could grasp how the real world works. 

I fear that we often make this mistake in our churches.  Offering this post  includes my actions as a preacher.  Anytime you point a finger at someone else you have four pointing back at you.  Nevertheless, I feel passionate about the thoughts I bring to you today.  As we examine  one of the greatest of first century preachers we see something very different from many who serve today.  Paul was a man with great passion for what he was doing.  Paul was like the prophet Jeremiah.  Both  these men had a love for God that ran so deep they could not contain it.  The message had to be told. 

As we look to Paul we find a man who was extremely effective in preaching Christ.  What we do not find is a man who was a professional preacher.  Paul did not view preaching as his vocation.  With Paul it was his life.  From time to time we find Paul supplementing his ability to preach Jesus by making tents.  Some today might argue that he could have been more effective by preaching “full-time.”  I am convinced that if Paul had been a professional preacher as we view preachers today he would have severely limited his abilities and effectiveness.  Let mention a few signs of our times for you to consider:

  • Many of our churches demand an individual have an impressive educational resume’  before even being  considered to fill the pulpit.   As I make this comment  let me state something about myself so that you not think I am biased in this area.  I am presently taking classes with the intent of obtaining a doctorate in marriage and family therapy.  I have no problem with those who wish to obtain education.  I fall into this very trait I am warning against.  The problem with depending on educational background to determine ability in the pulpit is both  broad and deep.  Classroom training can never teach passion or committment.  Educational degrees may provide theory but they will never give a man the practical every day experience he needs to be effective.
  • We are demanding our preachers become professional speech makers.  When a man preaches God’s word he needs to do so in a way that glorifies God.  However, the bulk of doing the Lord’s work will never be accomplished standing before the assembly.  If we are going to change lives we must rub shoulders with those we seek to change.  As ministers we must be men of God who are actively involved in the lives of those around us.  A sermon lived will always be remarkably more effective than one spoken.  This can’t be done behind a desk  in a church office.
  • In many cases churches are depending on men to do God’s work who have done nothing but prepare and present sermons almost all their adult life.  God doesn’t need a professional clergy.  God needs men who can build churches.  Churches in turn need men who believe that the message they share has the ability to change lives.  We need men who know how to connect with those who need Jesus.  This takes one on one experience.

This November I will have been preaching 33 years.  Much of this time has been served as a “fulltime” preacher.  My effectiveness as a worker in the Kingdom has grown in direct proportion to the amount of time I spent working one on one with those who needed to hear about Jesus.  The kingdom of God doesn’t need a professional clergy.  God’s kingdom needs men willing to exhibit a servant’s heart.  God needs men who will live His message with passion before a people willing to listen.

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5 Responses to Professional Clergy or Men of God?

  1. christina says:

    I used to attend a large church that had a full-time and 2 part-time ministers. The 2 part-time ministers (you know one) also did missionary work. The full-time preacher was really old and way past retirement. The elders decided that they only wanted one preacher that was full-time and asked the 2 part time preachers to leave. Some of the church left with them. The older preacher didn’t do very much outside of his office except a sermon evry once in awhile, and evryone knew that. My point is, the church is not the building, and if you want to grow the church you must step out the doors. Christina

  2. Thanks Christina for your input.

  3. Philip Sims says:

    Thanks for the perspective. I for one am not a trained preacher, now in my 15th year, 3rd here in Texas. I went to college and worked in health care for 15 years and felt the call to preach. It has taken me a long time to give up the feeling of inadequacy because i dont have a ministry degree of some kind. I have been blessed by God in a place where the fact i was not a “Trained Preacher” was looked at as a positive attribute. They were more interested in how i served while i was employed in the Hospital instead of my theology training. Peace brother, Philip Sims Kinda the preacher at Haskell Church of Christ!

  4. Education is good but your effectiveness in doing God’s work is less about education and more about service and connection.

  5. christina says:

    “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

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