An issue of a religious magazine contained the following in its “classified” section:
The ____________ Church of Christ … is looking for a full-time pulpit minister. He needs to be: (1) married, with an active wife, (2) graduate of a Brotherhood school of preaching, (3) knowledgeable of the Scriptures, (4) experienced in ministry (3-5 years min.), (5) experienced in counseling (a plus), (6) self-motivated, evangelistic, family and youth oriented.
A few things here seem amiss. Think with me.
• “Pulpit minister.” Many churches employ an assortment of “ministers,” all specializing in different areas. Even among “churches of Christ” one may find dozens of different job titles. “Pulpit minister” just distinguishes the fellow who preaches every Sunday from all the others. But what New Testament passage mentions an “administrative minister” in the church at Corinth, or a “minister of recreation” at Thessalonica, or a “church life minister” at Ephesus? I do read of local churches with elders, deacons, evangelists, and teachers doing their respective work (Philippians 1:1; Ephesians 4:11). Why shouldn’t that be sufficient for us?
• “Married, with an active wife.” Does this mean a single man is less qualified to proclaim God’s word than a married one? If so, where does that leave the apostle Paul, who evidently was unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8)? Paul himself said a preacher has “a right to take along a believing wife” (1 Corinthians 9:5), but not that he must be married in order to preach. And exactly what makes a preacher’s wife “active”? Some churches want her to be a virtual second preacher. Some expect her to take charge of ladies’ activities. Others want her involved in community affairs to provide good publicity for the church. While she certainly should be an example of faith, where does the Bible place any other demands on her?
• “Graduate of a Brotherhood school of preaching.” Does this exclude men like Peter and John, who were “uneducated and untrained” (Acts 4:13)? So far as we know, Paul was the only apostle with any formal religious training, but his was in Judaism (Acts 22:3). Scripture doesn’t mention Timothy or Titus or any other preacher receiving such schooling, nor does it mention any “brotherhood school of preaching” where they could have gone. It does mention local churches training and equipping disciples for the work of service (see Ephesians 4:12). Why shouldn’t that be enough today?
• “Knowledgeable of the Scriptures.” Now here’s a qualification for preaching that’s actually in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15). So why is it third on that church’s list?
• “Experienced in counseling.” What kind of counseling? Marriage counseling? Investment counseling? Career counseling? Sometimes the answer is “all of the above.” Envious of neighboring churches that keep a staff of paid advisors and therapists, some brethren want the preacher to serve as an all-purpose counselor for the church and the community. I wonder: if a church wants a preacher who’s experienced in counseling, does it mean there is no one among them who can render a wise decision when disciples have problems (see 1 Corinthians 6:5)? Does it mean the elders are unable or unwilling to advise people about their troubles?
• “Family and youth oriented.” Does this mean older folks are less important? How about middle-aged singles? God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Shouldn’t we?
• “Evangelistic.” Does this assume that there are some preachers who are not evangelistic? I fear there are. Then again, with so many churches saddling preachers with extra burdens like secular counseling, social services, and entertainment projects, it’s no wonder many men have trouble finding time to fulfill their divine job description: “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).
Preachers need to proclaim the gospel. And churches need to support them in doing so, not hinder them with added demands that go beyond the Scriptures.