The Preacher-Congregation Relationship

Another preacher once observed that there is an epidemic among churches in a desire for generic preaching – preaching that will not upset or challenge anyone in attendance. Unfortunately, this kind of preaching is little more than a continual meal of desserts. Also, in this context, many preachers are viewed as disposable congregation employees as opposed to a fellow brother in Christ. In many cases, the preacher and his family can feel isolated among the congregation, held at arms distance from being welcomed as a member of the congregation. When things in a congregation begin to turn sour, it is almost always the preachers fault. He is more than a member but less than a brother.

The Life of a Preacher

We must educate one another and ourselves regarding the relationship between a congregation and the preacher it employs. In II Corinthians 6, Paul is continuing to defend his role as a minister of Christ, and, beginning in verses 4-10, he talkins about things he has gone through in his ministry, and he starts with an admission that the life of a minister requires patience and endurance.

In verse 4, he claims to have had troubles or inflections related to his work. He speaks of hardships and distresses. A preacher has unique challenges, demands, and stresses that may not set upon other members. The evangelist is drawn into many congregational problems. Verse 5 speaks of outward trials that many of us may not have to go through but are still threats in some other locations. Also, the latter portion of verse 5, Paul speaks of the pressure a minister put on himself.

Verses 6-7 shifts to what a minister should be – patient, kind, knowledgeable, godly, truthful, and loving. Yet, in verses 8-10 speaks to the contrasts that can fill a preachers life. Not all will agree on the job he is doing, the kind of man he is. Even Paul felt the joys and the pains of a preacher’s life, but are we willing to perpetuate mistakes made by Christians for two thousand years?

The Preacher, Our Brother

In Ephesians 4:11-16, we often use these verse to discuss the unity of a local body, and, back in verse 11, the role of the evangelist is put in the context of this unified body. I Corinthians 12 is another chapter that speaks of unity, and it uses a body as parallel. We would not tell a part of our body to spend the next three months looking for a new body to join, but we may casually do this to a preacher, quickly amputating a part of the local body. However, nowhere in the New Testament is a minister treated as a mere employee. He is never referred to as disposable or dispensable. Rather, he, like every other member of a congregation, is a valuable part of Christ’s church who we should view as a friend and a brother. We should relate to our local preacher the way we would with any other brother or sister. If we have problems with him, we should approach him as we would any other brother or sister.

Preachers are Christians too. They have assumed a great responsibility in the choice of their profession, and they need all the more encouragement as a result. Yes, the preacher should be helping us all be better Christians, but we should be doing the same toward him. We should be always willing to help our evangelist be a better teacher and be a better Christian as we work together in this life.

lesson by Tim Smelser