Looking for a Preacher

Let me begin by saying, I am not judging or condemning churches for their hiring practices!  I am just wanting them to stop and think about their process and priorities.

Recently, I ran across this. It’s an ad for a church looking for a preacher.  It’s not different than many other churches across the country.

They set the requirements they desire in a man they want to serve as their preacher.  I understand that what I am going to discuss here could be somewhat controversial.  But, I find these requirements and demands quite influenced by the business culture in this country.  One which says the more education one has, the better they are to fill our pulpit.

I attended a church in Pennsylvania some time back as the elders laid out the results of a church questionnaire.  I could tell that these three men were all upper management of businesses.  They had graphs and charts galore.  My estimation was confirmed in talking with the temporary preacher.  The church ran as a business.

Last I checked, churches are not businesses.  They are living bodies.  They don’t operate, as much as some may wish, like businesses, corporations, or governmental entities.  The way that a capitalist America runs, which is fine by me, is not a model for the way in which a church operates.  It should be operated as God has  instructed.

How many good ministers are out there, but have never been to a formal educational facility?  How many are out there that have been to a preacher school and have failed to actually connect with people?  Education is great, but there are many ways to obtain it.  Too many churches are overlooking and missing good people because they have the wrong requirements in who they must select.  Jesus himself would be written off the list of potentials because he was a carpenter.

I have been a part of a church that has gone without a preacher for a year and a half.  Frankly, I thought it was divine.  It forced others to grow.  It forced others to lead.  It forced others to work.  It made people scared, uncomfortable and worried.  I love it!  In fact, I am an advocate of it.  I know that won’t be a popular opinion either to my cherished preacher friends, but I don’t like to live in the status quo.  What would our churches be like if we didn’t have preachers, but all of us participated as ministers?

Please don’t fail to miss the gold for the rocks and dirt.  Please don’t miss a great servant because he doesn’t have formal education requirements.  Knowledge is great, but, it isn’t everything.  Just ask Jesus, He had the best education money couldn’t buy.


15 responses to “Looking for a Preacher

  1. Great post! And, from a recovering preacher, many Amens!

    I spent 15 years pursuing the academic requirements so many think mandatory, but my greatest theological education came when I sat down with a father torn up by the illness of his little daughter, the wife who was at her wits end trying to save her marriage, the teenager who was on fire for God, the 95 year old elder who was still tireless in in efforts to pastor the flock, the farmer in the field who knew where life came from, and so forth. My time in the classroom was profitable, but my time among people in the church and in the community was the best education I received.

    I like the words of the psalmist, “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise” (Ps. 19.7 CSB).

  2. Great post! As a recovering preacher, let me say many Amens.

    I spent 15 years of my life chasing after those academic credentials so many consider requirements to preaching, but my best theological education didn’t come in a classroom, but among people and in life experience.

    The best preacher I’ve known in life is a man who left cattle ranching at age 50 and spent the final 30 years of his life preaching for a small, rural church in the Oklahoma panhandle. No formal education, just a deep love for Jesus and his fellow man. That man? My grandfather, george Saunders.

  3. Ah, the view from the tractor is affecting your thoughts regarding our congregations. It is a godo way to look at it.

    Many times congregations pay preachers to preach instead of paying them because they preach. We need congregations to support preachers to preach the gospel wherever, not just in one locality. Preacher should be supported to travel an reach the masses instead of confining themselves to the locals.

    Just some thoughts,


  4. The ad said “preferably with children”. Does that mean those couples who are infertile are expected to have adopted?

  5. motorcyclegrandmalinda

    Sad advertisement. I think I know which congregation that is and it surprises me. But then I guess I should not be surprised by anything anymore. I would think having a man after God’s own heart and looking to share the gospel would be a priority with any congregation of God’s people. I don’t see any reference to evangelism (which btw I feel is a way of life not just a “program”.)

  6. i agree, been reading peterson and he talks about how preachers have to “run a church” but the main goal is souls (not just evangelism, but teaching prayer).

    i agree that preachers can be enablers, and maybe preachers should be like parents and have the goal to work themselves out of a job…

  7. Well said! I actually prefer not having a preacher. It gives all the men of the congregation an opportunity to share their thoughts in sermons. Also, it takes away the excuse of not ministering to one another or visiting one another because “we pay someone to do that for us.” Sadly, we expect our paid ministers to do religion for us! Your comments about preacher hiring are right on.

    However, I think it’s important not to swing the pendulum too far to the other extreme. Individuals who earn an education show commitment to their faith, interest in learning, and a desire to better one’s understanding in a pretty intense environment. Most do so so they can pass on their knowledge to others. Yes, most learning in life comes from the school of hard knocks, but there’s a ton of stuff about the Bible and God that can only be learned in a classroom, and that stuff is just as valuable (learning Hebrew and Greek come to mind…) in the ministry. Remember, there are just as many examples of people with an education in the Bible as without. Everyone was taught the Torah in the synagogues to a certain age, including the disciples. Jesus was a carpenter, but he was also a Rabbi, which meant he spent the first 30-odd years of his life in school. Paul was a tent-maker, but very well educated. My opinion is that even the fishermen and tax-collectors (the “uneducated”) of Biblical times had probably a better scriptural foundation that most of us do!

    So no, education is not the end all, be all of hiring a preacher. You are correct in that regard. But let’s not go so far to the other extreme that we don’t appreciate or even start to look down on men and women who desire higher learning. That took a lot of effort on their part.

    Thanks again for the great comments!

  8. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many. We’ve gone from being church to running the church like a business.

  9. I’m thankful for the businessmen that are elders and deacons that can manage the business side of a congergation. Too many congergations are deep in debt and can’t afford to finance new ministries, missionaries, or preachers because they were mismanaged. God instructs us to appoint Elders and Deacons that manage their household well.

  10. on the other hand, that is minimal and plain compared to the humongous job descriptions that some congregations post on these sites

  11. Came over ’cause you cracked me up at Sarah’s blog about the deer.

    We went without a preacher for over a year and, as you said, it was wonderful. We are blessed with a large set of elders and THEY, along with the associate minister and youth minister and deacons and anyone else they could talk into it, took on the roll of preaching while we waited for God to send us our man. It did my heart good to listen each week as our shepherds shepherded us. I’m not saying that they don’t otherwise do so, but it was refreshing to have them do the teaching not only in classes, but from the pulpit. It was also a time when many who would normally not have done so decided to take a leap and deliver a sermon/lesson themselves.

    We have been blessed with a wonderful preacher who is also a minister and an evangelist, but those months of having our elders fill that role were precious to all of us.

  12. We haven’t had a preacher since June. You are exactly right about it forcing other to grow. It has been great seeing how others take on leadership roles and more responsibility.

  13. You are right! My Father-in-law was a wonderful preacher and he didn’t have a formal education. He was self taught and preached from North Dakota to Colorado. He just loved our Lord and His Word.

  14. Being one of the pulpit fellas, I will hazzard this observation. It was with a measure of concern that the elders heard me announce I would not be in the office for the first 3 hours so I could seclude myself for prayer. What we do is of less importance than the power by which we do it.

  15. Every congregation hires their own brand of ear tickler.
    Is it possible to be an ear-tickling preacher? And preach harshly against certain sins.?
    I believe it is.

    Do these people have itching ears? Judge for yourself. 
    The congregation of staunch Republicans who hires a pastor that will preach against “the gays, the liberals, and the environmentalist whack jobs” every week…
    The congregation of teetotalers who hires a pastor who every week, without fail, will condemn alcohol, from the pulpit…
    The congregation of Calvinists who hire a pastor that will preach against the errors of those pesky Armenians every week…
    I could go on but I think you get the idea.

    2 Tm: 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

    The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. We think that preaching hard messages with hard truths will necessarily keep us out of the “ear-tickling” category. But that is not the case. Paul tells Timothy that itching ears want teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. And many congregations hope to hear a preacher who every week will tell them what’s wrong with everybody else and what they are doing right.

    We not only hire preachers to tickle, we train them in that art.

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