Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 20, 1958

Who Has Put The Dollar Sign On Preaching

Thomas C. Hickey, Jr., Dayton, Ohio

A distressing condition is arising within the church. Men who ought to be considered as faithful gospel preachers are allowing their talents and abilities to be hidden in the search for vanity and worldly goods. This becomes increasingly evident with each passing day. The responsibility for this condition does not rest wholly on these men, for the influence of various individuals within a congregation, as well as the attitude of the congregation as a whole, may play its part in the birth of this weakness.

This writer recently made the acquaintance of a "faithful" gospel preacher, whose every thought seemed to be directed toward lucre. It made no difference what subject was introduced, he was able to twist the conversation into the same avenue of thought (money). Of course, this was an extreme case and should not be contemplated as the rule.

Reminiscence brings to mind two southern preachers who came to a northern city to conduct meetings. Both were "big" preachers, (whatever that is). One of them received a month's wages for a week's meeting, and stated that it was the greatest amount that he had ever received for a meeting (it might be stated that the man received a living from an occupation other than preaching). The other made some remark as to the paltry sums received for holding meetings in his own area. (This gentleman receives income from two sources other than preaching.)

In I Cor. 9 the apostle Paul promulges his right to be supported of the gospel. This promulgation finds its origin in an old principle (verse 9) and is quoted from the old testament by the apostle on at least two occasions. In each case it establishes the right of those who serve the gospel to be supported of the gospel. BY NO MEANS DOES PAUL INDICATE THAT ANY MAN HAS ANY RIGHT OR CLAIM TO ANY REMUNERATION OVER AND ABOVE THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE. I repeat, the apostle establishes his right (I Cor. 9) or the right of an elder (I TIM. 5; 17-18) to be supported for the services which he renders, but the scriptures DO NOT provide a GRAVY TRAIN for any man.

It is an indisputable fact that we are experiencing dangerous tendencies toward the "clergy" system. A great deal of these tendencies may be traced to job-hunting preachers. It is time for congregations of the Lord's church to wake up to their responsibility of preaching the gospel and start looking for men who will, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2). If more preachers would spend more time preaching and less time golfing (if a man wants to play golf let him run for the presidency) there would be fewer clerical tendencies.

Undoubtedly "paid" preaching creates its problems. Lucrative "ecclesiastical positions" have necessarily excited the avarice of unworthy aspirants, and in some cases have weakened rather than strengthened the church's influence. Many men have reached the point that they will simply refuse to preach for any congregation who cannot fulfill their monetary desires.

The question lingering in my mind is "WHO HAS PUT THE DOLLAR SIGN ON PREACHING?" Was it Paul when he said, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Cor. 9:16) Or was it Jesus when He said that we should seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, understanding that provision would be made for the necessities of our lives.

"For the love of money is the root of all (kinds of, RV) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:10).