“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Do You Preach?

For my final post of 2006, and my first post for 2007, I thought I would share some thoughts from a friend of mine. First, I’ll give you a little more background on him. He was my pastor while living and working in a street shelter. He was my boss while working in a Cajun restaurant. I have lived in his home while searching for an apartment. And, he stood as a groomsman at my wedding.

His article is aimed at Christians. But, you know what? Everyone has a purpose in this life. What we do with it, and how we live it out, is up to us. We are all preachers of something. We can proclaim fault and point fingers—which is nothing more always looking at the past. Or we can proclaim what could be and point the way to a better future. It is our choice.

Which way are you pointing?

Preachers: Worth or Worthless?
Larry R Taylor
Dec 4, 2006
§ We are not entertainers
§ We are not politicians
§ We are not businessmen
§ We are not educators
§ We are preachers!

Romans 10:14 " How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:15 " And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

I have lost track of the number of times I have heard people misquote Saint Francis recently; "Preach the gospel at all times—when necessary use words." Like most religious traditions of men, it sounds good at first. The only problem with this well meaning and high sounding quote is that it promotes a totally unbiblical view of preaching. Scripture commands that we preach the gospel. (Mk. 16:15) The "foolishness" of preaching is the means God ordained to save the lost. (1 Cor. 1:21). Preaching is the method chosen to correct false teaching and heresy. (2 Tim. 4:2) Preaching is the conduit for imparting the wisdom of God in contrast to the teachings of men. (Col. 1:28) Proclamation of the word of God produces faith. (Rom. 10:17) The preaching of the word releases signs, wonders and miracles. (Mk. 16:20) The word "preach" by definition means that we speak words.

Why the trendy attack on the act of preaching? I believe that the ambivalence toward preaching is due primarily to feelings that have developed towards preachers. Those that occupy the pulpits (TV monitors) of America have left many feeling manipulated, ripped off and used. I would like to suggest that it is not preaching with which we have the real problem. Our problem is with those who have failed our expectations as preachers.

I suppose everyone has anomalies in their family history that helps to shape their thinking and behavior. Mine is no exception. On one side of the family tree preachers were held in the highest regard. My great grandfather was the pastor of First Baptist Church Groveton, Texas for over 32 years. His daughter (my grandmother) was the organist at the same church for over 30 years and her husband a deacon. Pastors were treated with respect and admiration. On the other side I had a several uncles and cousins that felt, or at least expressed feelings, that seemed to indicate that preachers were a specialized group of leeches on society worthy only of the highest contempt.

Here was my dilemma. As a young boy who felt "the call to ministry" at 8 years old, I had to agree with both sides. The pastors that my uncles were personally exposed to and acquainted with seemed to qualify for that position primarily by not being qualified for any other position. Whenever they got in debt, or had a business failure, or lost a job these particular backwoods country pastors would always "go back to preach'n". Sometimes they even quit drinking and chasing women.

It seems to me that at this juncture of Church history that we are faced with similar conflicting views on the role of preachers in general and pastors to be more specific. Some are crying for the overthrow of the current pastoral system based on the behavior of those who have embarrassed themselves and the people they serve with acts of immorality and the "unforgivable sin" of modern secular thinkers: hypocrisy. At the other extreme are groups elevating the pastor to near god status through "touch not the anointed" teachings and honoring their leaders by giving them titles of royalty (Your Highness, Your Majesty, etc. My thinking is this, if they really wanted to honor their spiritual leaders they would call them what they are- Pastor, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher, Apostle-not by giving them degrading titles of earthly royalty. To be a King or Prince or Queen would, in my estimation, be a step down.)

I have nothing against world rulers, or entertainers or businessmen or educators. My point is simply this—to be called to preach the gospel is not a shameful condition. To be identified as a preacher is not a reproach, but an honor. Biblically there is no alternative in the body of Christ but to make room for the men and women of God who have been called and sent to minister the good news.

Before you hastily hit reply and send me a corrective email, let me be the first to acknowledge that all Christians have been called to preach the good news. All believers have the capability of prophesying and ministering in the anointing of God. However, at the same time, I hope that you can recognize that there are clearly those in the New Testament Church who were called to be given wholly to the ministry of the Word and derive their primary source of income from that ministry. (1Corinthians 9:14 "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.")

In this season of shifting paradigms, apostolic reformation, new wineskins and structural innovations, we should be careful not to throw out the biblical baby with the dirty bathwater of exposed carnality and immorality. Rather than adopt a world system model from which to derive our identity, we should instead boldly stand up and be the real thing: Preachers of the Gospel.
You can find Larry at Go In Ministries.

Have a blessed New Year! See you in 2007.