Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 10, 1951

The Pastor And The Church

Leonard Mullens, Dallas, Texas

We hear a lot these days about the evangelists in the churches of Christ becoming pastors. Many think that the local preachers are taking away the authority that belongs to the elders of the church. The local preacher, according to some, soon becomes the "boss" of the church. He makes all the decisions for the church. Some say that the elders soon become but mere "figureheads" under the administration of the located evangelist. In some cases, there may be a lot of truth in such statements. But, in other cases, we would do well to ask ourselves the question, "Whose fault is it?"

Today, members of the church who desire information about the work of the church always call the preacher for that information, instead of consulting the elders. Even though the preacher may tell them to consult the elders, they still continue to ask the preacher. Often when they ask the elders, they are instructed by the elders to see the preacher about it. Now whose fault is that? Should we lay all the blame on the preachers?

Sometimes when the preacher is accused of taking authority from the elders, it is because the elders have not met their own responsibilities. They have "passed the buck" on to the preacher. Often this situation arises. The elders decide to do a certain thing. The preacher is used as their mouthpiece to inform the congregation about it. He does so, and that is all you ever hear about it. The elders never do anything else. They seem to think that since they have planned the work that it is up to the preacher to carry it out. Soon the people begin to question the preacher as to why the plan proposed has not been carried out. So the preacher is forced to do something to carry it out, or just let the whole thing die. If he tries to carry out the plan advanced, he is taking authority from the elders. If he lets the matter die, the congregation loses confidence in what the preacher says, So the preacher is made the "goat." If he carries on, he becomes the "pastor" of the church. Now, is all that the preacher's fault?

When people become sick, it is the preacher who is expected to call on them. Often they expect this at the very first pain. If he does not call, and that immediately, he is severely criticized. But, is it any more the business of the preacher to visit the sick than it is the obligation of the elders, or the deacons, or the rest of the members? Now preachers ought to visit the sick, but they have no more obligation to do so than any other member of the church. But, other members have work to do, and therefore, they cannot do it. But, the preacher has no work. Let him do it. It seems to me that a preacher's work is to proclaim the Word. But who is it that is making the preacher the "pastor" of the church? Is it the preacher only?

When a brother makes a mistake in the church, and needs to be instructed in his duty, or admonished and warned, the preacher is told by the leaders to see to this. Is this any more his duty than the duty of the leaders of the local church? If he does this work, does he become the "pastor" of the church? If so, who made him the pastor?

Something goes wrong in the worship services, because some detail of planning has been overlooked. Whose fault is this? The preacher's surely. And often the elders expect the preacher to apologize for the mistake made, when it is no more his responsibility than theirs. Does all the blame rest on the preacher?

Let churches quit trying to make "pastors" out of their preachers. Let the members learn to carry their responsibilities themselves. Let the congregation demand that the elders be the pastors of the churches, and not the preachers. And, above all, let us quit making "pastors" out of preachers, while we condemn them for becoming what we have made them!

Beloved, let us think on these things.