"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.IV Pg.10
November 1941

Am I A Pastor?

LUTHER G. ROBERTS (Amarillo, Texas)

Much is being written just at the present about the "pastor system." Statements are made such as the following: "Many of these gentlemen are typical modern, not ancient, pastors"; "These modern pastors are job hunters and job holders; they do not `labor with their hands, like Paul did' "; "Not every preacher, however, located with a church is a pastor, modern or ancient." These statements are from an article by Brother L. L. Brigance in the Gospel Advocate,. July 24, 1941. Brother Brigance is a good writer, and a good man, sound in the faith, and a good friend of mine. I liked him while attending his classes, and I still like him. But why does not Brother Brigance, or someone else, tell us who is the modern pastor, and who is the Paul-like preacher. Does one have to make tents at a place where he preaches, to scripturally preach for a church for some length of time, or may he be Scriptural in his work, and not work with his hands, manual labor, while preaching for a congregation three or more years? Paul was not a pastor, though he preached for a church some years regularly, because he worked with his hands between sermons. Is a preacher a pastor because he preaches for a church on Sunday, and teaches, and does other work for the interest of the church through the week, though he does not do manual labor?

Brother Brigance describes some of the things connected with my life while I am working with a church full time, though I am not doing manual labor. I get my hair cut about every other week. I use some oil to keep my hair in place. I shine my shoes, as I was taught in Freed-Hardeman college to do, before I get up to preach on Sunday mornings. I have my clothes cleaned and pressed. I try to wear ties and socks that are neat and clean. The color of the clothes I wear is not gaudy, but usually of some shade of blue or gray. Does this make a man a "pastor"? Then Brother Brigance and other teachers in Freed-Hardeman College are preacher pastors, for I know that they wear such clothes, and are usually well groomed, and have nice homes with modern conveniences. I have heard Brother Brigance say that he could not sleep well at night if his shoes were not placed side by side in order before he retires. Too "meticulous"? Not in a school teacher; if done by a preacher, preaching for a church every Lord's day, it is?

I live in a nice, but not luxurious home, with modern conveniences, electric lights, fan, radio, gas stove, telephone, floor furnace. Delivered at our door are the morning and afternoon papers; also delivered by mail are six or eight gospel papers, and some literature urging me to recommend to students various colleges supported by the brethren, where some of our preachers make tents to preach the gospel. Milk is delivered to our house. When my wife does not do our washing we take it out to be washed, and bring it home, to be ironed. We wear our clothes ironed, my suits are cleaned and pressed "cash and carry," as I buy groceries except when some "traveling preacher," who does not do work with his hands for his meals, chances to drop in, and we call the grocer to deliver some extras for the traveling preacher visitor. I ride about a town of 54,000 population in a car. A brother, without my request, keeps it washed. He was a Baptist when I moved here, and I have baptized him. I visit the sick, in homes and hospitals. I visit indifferent members, prospective members, and new members of the church who have moved to town. I preach many funerals, and drive many miles to and from cemeteries several miles from down town. Occasionally I go to the mountains for a week or two, on a vacation, and usually preach on Sundays for some small congregation, like teachers in colleges do every Sunday. Then sometimes I get time off, with the assistance of college presidents, to visit the colleges and get the benefit, graciously given, of lectures and classes, and am entertained in nice homes, with modern conveniences, of the teachers and one time in the home of the president of the school. Does this make me a pastor?

Is it right for a traveling evangelist (or a college teacher-preacher) to be well groomed, have their suits pressed, shoes shined, live in nice homes with modern conveniences, but if a local evangelist does the same thing it is wrong and makes him a modern pastor? We should, at least, be fair.

Our services on Sundays are as follows: Radio program of fifteen minutes from 9:15 to 9:30; classes at 9:45; 10:45 a.m., the song service; the sermon from 11:15 to 11:50.

I gain help from other men through their writings, just like I gained some help from attending classes in school, where the teachers taught with "help gleaned from the works of far abler and more industrious men," such as Campbell, Lipscomb, McGarvey, and others. On Sunday evenings, the preacher usually teaches a class for young people, and preaches immediately following. I usually preach forty-five minutes, some would like shorter sermons. Through the week from one to three classes are taught in the Bible, besides personal teaching that is done.

Now to the question: What is wrong with any or all of this? Is it wrong, and does it make one a pastor? I can tell you where some of us learned that it was Scriptural to do such work: It was at Hardeman, Abilene Christian, and David Lipscomb colleges. If it is wrong for preachers to locate with a church and do this work, is it not wrong to prepare them for such work in the Bible colleges?

It seems that Brother Rowe, whom Brother Brigance quoted, was placing the blame on the colleges, acting as incubators to turn out the preachers prepared to take over the churches. He says, "Colleges sprung up in every direction; teachers by scores, rushed to the colleges; in a short time hundreds of pastors, without age or experience" were turned out. If there is blame to be placed on the preachers for taking to the churches, is there no blame, no censure to be borne by the colleges who turned them out with "the diploma in hand for the most inviting churches"?

I agree with what Brethren Brigance and Goodpasture say about the preacher who "takes charge of the congregation to run it—elders, deacons, and members as it pleases and profits him," that he is a hireling, a usurper, and should be disciplined. There may be some of this type, but the things described in some of the articles do not make a person a pastor, nor even a preacher. There are abuses and misuses of the work God has given preachers, and elders, and others to do. Shall we advocate discontinuing a Scriptural work on account of such abuses?

There is too much of fighting the straw-man, and beclouding of the issue in the things that are being said and written on "The Pastor System." Why not be specific so that the teaching will benefit the churches, if it does not help the preachers. But to teach against a thing that all churches and preachers deny practicing is not going to help anybody.