Vol.XIII No.I Pg.5
March 1976

Business Meetings, Preachers

Robert F. Turner

Exhortations to obey and submit to overseers (Heb. 13:17), and to esteem them very highly in love for their works sake (1 Thes. 5:12-13), show the necessity of respect for those selected as overseers-- as it is apparent that team work would flounder if, having been appointed, their position had to be re-examined every time they tried to function. They are protected from capricious and irresponsible criticism, some -times judged worthy of double honor and support (1 Tim. 5:17-20); and yet are subject to rebuke for their sins the same as any other Christians.

With this fresh in mind, we face the question of what to do when there are no qualified men to appoint as overseers of a congregation. A local church can exist and function in the absence of elders (ACTS 14:21-23), although something is wanting (lacking, Titus 1:5). I find nothing to indicate that an evangelist has charge in such cases — although in places where there are none but babes in Christ, and especially in the time before the written New Testament was available to all, it would reasonably fall to the more knowledgeable and experienced men to guide and instruct the group so they could fulfill their responsibilities before the Lord.

A business meeting of the men is simply a human expedient, with no more authority for its existence than any other expedient. If this plan is used, it should be remembered that it is but a method for letting the saints of the congregation express themselves, and function orderly as a team. It should not be regarded as the equivalent of a of bishops or elders, for the experience, spiritual development, and acumen of qualified overseers is not here. These men are novices. They may be self-willed, easily angered, etc. They are not what qualified overseers should be, or they would be appointed as such. So, it does not follow that all things said of scriptural overseers now applies to the business meeting arrangement.

One who devotes his full time to preaching and teaching, being supported by the brethren so that this work is possible, is as much a member of the congregation — and no more so — as any other member. Both the church and the preacher are in error if he is a hireling — subject only to the rule of so much preach for so much pay. In any business meeting he should be heard to the extent of his learning, experience, and wisdom — and that goes for every other member of the congregation. If not, why not??

In the final analysis, we must learn to submit.. .one to another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21). This does not eliminate God - appointed headship necessary for orderly function of the home, church, etc., (the next verse says, Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands. .) but it would erase the lording complex that wrecks havoc in all phases of the work of the saints.

In the absence of a humble spirit of love and mutual concern, there are no rules of order or oversight that can make a congregation function for the Lord as it should.