Vol.XX No.VI Pg.7
August 1983

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

What is a "professional preacher," and are such approved of God? B.I.


The term suggests the opposite of an amateur; one who has trained and prepared himself to make preaching his life's work. Beyond this, the term has taken on multi-hues because of (a) the concept of "priesthood" or "clergy-laity" distinctions; (b) financial support provided by a church or those served; and even (c) sneeringly applied to one who flaunts his degrees, supposes his every word is wisdom from above, and shamelessly lives off of the flock with little pretense of earning his salt.

There is no hierarchy among God's people (Matt. 23:8-12, 20:20-28) and all obedient believers are "priests" (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rom. 12:1). God approves the support of His workmen (1 Cor. 9: 14), even while warning of and disapproving "hirelings" whose predominate interest in "Preaching" is the money they will be paid (Jn. 10:12-13, 2 Pet. 2:3,15). Of course God disapproves of the pompous, holier-than-thou person who revels in the "chief seat in the synagogue" and praises of men.

In some places, where "mutual edification" once reigned, any "located preacher" was called "professional." Opposition to schools where the Bible is taught has contributed to the use of "professional" as a term of derision for men who have had academic training in subjects designed to assist them in preaching the gospel. A self-trained man may be and often is highly effective in the Lord's work. Experience is a wonderful teacher and is needed by the college graduate as well as by the self-taught man. But because one can preach without school training should not blind us to the value of that additional discipline and experience.

I do not regard "preaching" as a "profession" in the doctor-lawyer category; for I recognize the man lacking formal training as having as much right to preach as anyone, and having obligation to do all he can for the cause of Christ. In fact, I have more respect for the untrained man, giving his best; than for one who could take more extended training but is content to limp along, taking support for half-baked work while casting slurs at what he calls "professionals."

Preaching Christ deserves the highest use of our capabilities. If that is "professionalism" then Paul said get with it ("Whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men," Col. 3:23). Learn to read — not just call words. Get all training possible in interpretation, and in communication of ideas. Take advantage of the study of others — respectfully yet critically, searching the Scriptures. Ancient history is helpful. Learn to type. Learn research techniques, study doctrinal history. Observe people, for they are the clientele of your work. Language study will open new fields in use of the Bible "sword of the Spirit." Find out how little you really know, for that can keep you humble. From beginning to end, "Pray without ceasing." Trust in God for your support, and fret not if someone calls you a "professional."