In the last several articles, we talked about the fact that we are all, in a sense, called to be leaders. We asked the question, “are YOU a leader?” We also talked about the structure of biblical leadership given to us in the Ephesians 4 passage. And we said that structure involves what we call deacons (ministry leaders). We talked about what it means to be a shepherd and what their responsibilities are to the church family. Today, we will talk about the “preachers” and their responsibility to the Christian community here.
Some denominations call the “preacher” the pastor, and others call him the minister. The preacher can be a pastor, and a preacher can be a ministry leader, but technically speaking those are different titles that come with different responsibilities (as we talked about in the last couple of articles). There were actually no recorded “located preachers” in the new testament. By that, I mean that the idea of a local preacher staying at a congregation for an extended period of time is foreign to the church. It isn’t wrong to do that, but we don’t find any examples of it. Instead, we see what are called “evangelists.” These are men and women who travel to plant churches and/or help get them started. Or, they might help struggling churches until they are on their feet. Then, these evangelists move on, leaving shepherds to do the preaching, teaching, and visiting that we often imagine the preacher should do. The preachers (or, “evangelists”) primarily focused on the vision of the church and the training of the leadership. They would help in other areas as well. They are also called “prophets.”
What are the responsibilities of a preacher according to the Bible? In 1 Tim 4:11-13, Paul says for Timothy not to let anyone be disrespectful because of his youth, but to lead the church by example, and in preaching and teaching until he is no longer needed (1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:15). He said for Timothy and Titus to train leaders and hold them accountable, but also, to respect them and their wisdom as well (2 Tim. 4:2; 3:16-17). They were to appoint new shepherds (Titus 1:5; 1 Tim. 4:11). Evangelists are to build relationships outside of the church to plant seeds. But they are to remember that God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3; 2 Tim. 4:5). It seems preachers usually do the shepherd’s job, shepherds usually do the deacon’s job, and deacons don’t know what they are supposed to be doing (nor do the members). This has got to change. It isn’t the family structure God had in mind. Good leaders train and empower others to use their gifts. They help members reach the potential God desires. Leaders can’t be a Christian for the members, but they must lead by example. – Jesse