Monday, September 04, 2006

We Need Sound and Faithful Preachers

There are about 13,000 congregations of the churches of Christ in the United States. The many colleges, universities, and schools of preaching among us are graduating about 300 or so preachers per year, but the sad reality is that we are losing about 600 preachers per year. These come from some surveys taken about six years ago, but I don't know that things have changed much since then.

Why are we losing preachers? Some die, some retire, some leave the ministry, and some fall away. Whatever the reason, the service these men rendered is no longer available.

If we lose 300 preachers per year, we will lose 600 in two years, and 3,000 in a decade. The smaller churches who can hardly afford ministers will likely suffer the most. Churches in the areas where New Testament Christians are scarce have been crying for preachers for some time.

Add to this the problem that many of the preachers trained in some of our universities, frankly, do not believe what the congregation believes about many fundamental doctrines. Much of this disagreement arises from a lack of belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. This shred of doubt leaves such questions in the mind of those who serve that they are willing to compromise even the most clear teaching of Scripture. Some examples:
  • some are saying that people sprinkled as infants are nonetheless baptized Scripturally, because God's grace covers our ignorance.
  • the use of instrumental music in Christian worship is a non-issue
  • the Lord's supper should not be reserved for the Lord's Day but may be partaken at any time
  • the Lord's church is not distinctive but should be considered as a denomination--just one among many
  • the Lord's order of male leadership in worship should be abandoned so as to have gender equity

I have heard all these things from the lips of men who serve as preachers and who have been educated by our universities. Whatever they believe, they do not believe that the patterns taught in Scripture are worthy of our adherence. They oppose rigid patternism as if it were Pharisaism rather than faithful obedience to the text itself. They have not yet replaced the patterns with their own hermeneutic but have launched themselves into a sea of pluralism, where the truth of Scripture falls to desires of the masses.

So when we speak of needing preachers, we mean "faithful" preachers who will preach the Word without compromise and doubt. We need men who will not leave the people whom they serve ignorant about the truth of the gospel. We need men who will stand tall for what they believe and will not back down.

Jesus did not take it back when the people left him (John 6:66-69). We must not listen to the "church growth" experts who deceive us when they say that we must "change" (to suit them) or "die." We will die only if we prove faithless to the truth and to the Lord. We can deceive ourselves into thinking that the crowds we have amassed show that we are doing something "right." But numbers do not prove faithfulness or that one is "right." Faithfulness is more treasured in God's eyes. If you do not believe this, ask these ten men:

Shammua the son of Zaccur; Shaphat the son of Hori; Igal the son of Joseph; Palti the son of Raphu; Gaddiel the son of Sodi; Gaddi the son of Susi; Ammiel the son of Gemalli; Sethur the son of Michael; Nahbi the son of Vophsi; Geuel the son of Machi. These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. They brought back the popular but bad report about the land of Israel. We don't know anything else about them.

But the faithful Joshua and Caleb, we remember. Faithful men who will not flinch in the face of the enemy--that is what we need, and the Lord will be with us.

for the cause of Christ,



Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Phil, you know I love you as a brother. And I strive to be as faithful as God will enable me to be. But we also need men who do not make laws for God in areas that he has not.

Bobby Valentine

Phil Sanders said...

I certainly agree. We have many preachers who make laws God has not made. I oppose that.

We also have preachers who ignore the laws God made and presume to act on their own authority. I oppose that too.