Vol.XIV No.XI Pg.8
January 1978

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

A preacher once worked with a man who repeatedly complained about how much the church paid the evangelists who came for gospel meetings. (And it wasn't all that much either!) But the preacher couldn't argue the case, for he also did some meeting work and would be suspected of having a personal interest in the outcome of the discussion. Then, the preacher received a letter concerning a meeting which read, "— bring a song leader if you can. We will support him also."

He hurried to see the complaining brother (a fine singer) and asked him to he the song leader in the upcoming meeting. The brother said, "I'd like to go, but if I leave here my income will cease."

"I know," said the preacher. "I do not draw support from the church when I am away."

"But I have bills —" "I must have a continuing income to meet them." "Of course you must," said the preacher. "Perhaps I failed to tell you that the letter said they would support the song leader also. They make the same promise to you that they made to me."

The brother thought that over for a while, then he looked at the ground and asked, "How much will they pay?"

"Oh, I don't know about that," replied the preacher. "You know, we can not ask such questions — it would seem so commercial. We just go, do the best we can in the meeting, and then take what is given us."

There was a painful silence — and then the brother, still looking at the ground, shook his head. "I just can't operate that way," he said.

The story should end right there — but it doesn't. The preacher had not yet learned that it is possible to over-sell a point. He just had to say, "Well, if you can't, you can't. But I don't ever want to hear you complain again about the support of those who can and do operate that way." Many of us show up better as the defeated or the under-dog, than we do in triumph.

Times are better now, and brethren are much more considerate of those whom they support. I didn't drag this story out to complain. I thought of it as a nostalgic reminder of the day when preachers fought to save alien sinners, stingy brethren, and also to keep the wolf away from their door.