Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 22, 1971
NUMBER 11, PAGE 3-4a

What Hinders You?

Lanny Parish

Why aren't congregations of the Lord growing more, numerically and spiritually? Many members respond to this question by placing the blame on everyone except where it belongs, and that is on "myself." Who else is to blame for the complacency, indolence, slothfulness, indifference, unconcern, and lack of conviction that exists in the church?

Lack of telling the truth regardless of the way it might be received by those who hear or whose feelings it might ruffle is one of the greatest weaknesses of the Christian. (Gal. 1:10; 6:18-19; I Pet. 4:11) No greater crime can be committed by any man than that of withholding vital truth from souls that need it. (Jas. 4:17; 5:19-20; Ezek. 3:18)

While it is true that great progress is being made today in teaching lost souls, it is also true that complacency is taking its toll among many members of the church; and there is appalling need for the admonition Hezekiah gave his people long ago, "my sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him ..." (2 Chron. 29:11)

The attitude of the church toward preachers and preacher's work is another thing that hinders more members and work than perhaps is realized. The preacher is expected by some to do everyone's work and his own too. He begs the brethren to come to Bible classes; to attend Sunday night, to be present on Wednesday night, to be faithful to a gospel meeting; in fact much of his work is beg, beg, beg. He has been reduced to the level of professional beggar, not begging men to obey the truth and reform their lives but begging so-called christians to attend and be more faithful, which is their God given duty in the first place. (Matt. 6:33; Heb. 10:23-31)

He does most of the visiting, makes the sick calls, calls on newcomers into the community, publishes, folds, and stamps the bulletin; teaches classes, often takes notes in the business meetings, visits negligent members and is expected to do just about everything else including some of the members duties, after all some members think that is "what we are paying him for." It would take a superhuman to give some brethren what they want and expect out of a preacher today!

The first qualification of a preacher in too many cases today is not, "Is he sound, loyal, and a grounded teacher of the word?" but, "Is he a good mixer?" — good personal worker?" — "good with the young people?" (what about the older people?) — "good PASTOR" And when he spends twelve to sixteen hours a the knocking doors and visiting "peevish" members, which is about twelve to sixteen hours more than most members spend in a year, then they complain that he's not much in the pulpit. And if it weren't for the outline books on which he often has to rely, one wonders how he would do as well as he does; for he has been robbed of his time for study and prayer, which things are so essential to an effective ministry, being demanded and expected by some members to be and to act like a hired "pastor" and to do their duty for them. Yet, they expect to go to heaven too!

Until every member of the church realizes what church work is; what is to be done by a preacher and what is to be done by the membership — and does it — the conditions will get worse and the body of Christ will continue to suffer because of these hindrances. It is the duty of the preacher — AS A CHRISTIAN — to visit the sick, encourage weak brethren, seek out non-attendees, teach and admonish. ARE YOU NOT A CHRISTIAN ALSO? The preacher's primary duty as a preacher is to PREACH! Many preachers are forced by some demanding, self-willed, inconsiderate brethren to neglect their primary duty and fulfill the member's desires or either "move-on."

A strong pulpit makes a strong church. Some older, well-known preachers in the "brotherhood" have hindered members from being as strong as they should be and have dampened the zeal and spirit of younger preachers by their failure to stand strong. (2 Tim. 4:2) It appears some of these older, well-known preachers think more of good ole brother Joe's feelings and their being able to stay where they are located (job security) than they do of the consequences of the error that poor ole Joe is in. (Gal. 1:10; Ezek. 3:18; Jas. 4:14-17) Then the younger preacher with the zeal and courage to point out and expose these errors and not beat-around-the-bush with the commands of God is hindered by the influence (though wrong it may be) of these older, well-known preachers. This is the cause of many young preachers getting disgusted with brethren and preaching and quitting preaching and also why many young men do not enter into full-time preaching and why many parents do not encourage their sons to devote their lives to preaching the gospel. Talk about hindrances! If the members of the church will tax themselves to do what God has assigned them and not be influenced by anything other than God's word, the preacher can cease being the only "table server" in the congregation, and a man will also become respected because of his stand for the truth, not because of his age (or disrespected because of his youth or lack of age in years) or what he has done in years past.

In some churches of Christ today, instead of all the members rallying to the work, they ditch it in the preacher's lap and then criticize him if he fails in some respects. Let me urge every brother and sister in Christ — don't be a hindrance — get behind those fellow servants who strive to preach the gospel and help them do the Lord's work and His will. It will make them better preachers and you a better Christian and you will be discharging your duties. (Eph. 6:10-19) He can't "run his legs off" doing what you many times could do and don't, and then get up and preach with the power of Paul. A preacher can go only so far and do so much — this is why every joint (member) is to supply and make increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:16-17)


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