Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 20, 1955


Charles G. Caldwell, Jr., Gary, Indiana

The denominational world has introduced many corruptions of the Lord's plan and more than a few of these have had to do with the evangelist.

Prominent in the news recently was the story of a public official guilty of fabricating an elaborate account of his war-time record. Being pressed for the truth he explained his attempted glorification by saying, "Actually, like many other persons suddenly thrust into the limelight, I rather thrived on adulation and new-found popularity." This psychological analysis may very well be applied to "many" who have stood in the pulpits and occupied the position of evangelists since the church began. Diotrephes, may or may not have been a preacher but he certainly has had his counterpart in many occupying that station through the years, loving to have the preeminence and arrogating to themselves titles, positions and/or prerogatives and honors never intended by the Lord.

Not satisfied with the divinely given names of "evangelist" or "minister" these Diotrephesians choose to be called "Elder" or "Pastor" and even to usurp that name applied only to Jehovah by Inspiration, "Reverend." (See Psalm 111:9.)

There has been much written and said about a "Preacher-Pastor System." A great deal of this has come from hobby-riders and general cranks. Divinely ordained functions of the preacher, or "evangelist," have been attacked and held up to ridicule and an attempt made to eliminate this department of the Lord's "church organization." Sometimes, however, we are made to wonder if perhaps preachers (speaking generally) have not invited this attack upon themselves by their own eclectic propensities.

Thriving "on adulation and popularity" preachers sometimes yield to the temptation to "take over" by-pass the God-ordained elders or overseers, and set themselves up as the director or "dictator" of the congregation. I have known of such preachers "hiring and firing" nominal elders at will and in other ways building and operating a "political machine" in the Kingdom of the Lord. They talk of "my elders" and "my deacons" and "my congregation." The sadness of the condition consists of the fact that they speak the truth. They and it are theirs and not the Lord's.

My brethren would do well to remember that the evangelist is a servant of the church and not the church the servant of the evangelist. Instead of the preacher taking charge of the church, the church in many cases ought to take charge of the preacher and let him know that the Lord never intended the evangelist to usurp the prerogatives of the eldership in directing the affairs of the congregation. It is a fine thing for the evangelist to know his place and keep it.

The church as any other organization cannot function properly without the right kind of leadership. Nor can leaders, however zealous and efficient they may be, succeed in their work without a recognition of their relationship to each other. God knew this and so made laws to govern their conduct and define their duties and responsibilities.

Many of the troubles which have faced the church throughout the ages could have been eliminated had evangelists, as well as elders, recognized these basic facts and operated in the sphere to which they were assigned.

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33.)