Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1967

Answering Questions

Gene E. Watson

Question: What is the reason for the preacher shortage among the Lord's people at the present time? Answer: The preacher shortage is not as prevalent as some would have us believe. However, in some places there is a shortage of workers in the Lord's vineyard. The reason in all too many cases is either envy, haughtiness, indifference, or a combination of all of these. In some places they have able teachers but will not use them for one or more of the above reasons. Perhaps indifference is the most common reason for the preacher shortage. When the people are indifferent toward the work of the Lord, this causes many who would develop themselves for greater service to become discouraged. For lack of encouragement, many fail to see the need of developing themselves. Of course someone will say that those who so desire can get the necessary training in some school. I certainly would not discourage anyone from getting an education; however, there are lots of things that we ought to know that are not taught in any school, except, of course, the school of experience.

When we get back to the Bible we won't be plagued with a preacher shortage. Let parents and brethren encourage their young men as Timothy was. (Acts 16: 1-2; II Tim. 1:3-5; II Tim. 3:14-15.) Let the mothers and older women "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:4-5.) All of the adjuncts and auxiliaries in the world cannot improve upon the above system. I recently ran across an article on training teachers that is just as timely today as it was when it was written over one hundred years ago. Here is a portion of the article:

"The members exercise their gifts in their respective congregations, when well regulated; and there they soon manifest what their capabilities are - what part they are capable of performing of the labor of the Lord's vineyard. Every congregation is, or should be, a school for the education of its members; and if the churches would just do their duty in instructing and encouraging their members in the exercise of their talents, there would be no lack of efficient preachers. The churches, instead of encouraging their younger members to qualify themselves for preaching the gospel, often discourage them by their indifference. They look for independent, cooperative bodies, as inefficient as they are unscriptural, to call out and support preachers, who shall perform the double office of pastor and evangelist, to keep the churches alive and preach the gospel to the world at the same time. Beloved brethren, these things ought not to be so. Every congregation should, and can, be independent of all foreign aid. Let us go to work in earnest at home in our respective congregations. Let the overseers of the congregations encourage the younger members to take active part in the worship of the church - to read the Scriptures if they can do nothing more. By this will they acquire confidence to exhort, to sing, to pray, to do whatever their abilities fit them to do. Some congregations in Middle Tennessee have adopted this course, and they tell us that the result has been the development in their midst of talent which they had no idea was there. Let not a Lord's day pass without assembling at the house of God for the purpose of uniting in his most soul-elevating worship. Be religious at home, for no one who neglects to cultivate pious feelings in the walks of everyday life can be truly pious when he comes up to the Lord's house on the Lord's day. Pray in your families, in your closets; for the heart that is softened and purified by such continual devotional exercises is prepared to engage with interest and zeal in the exercises appropriate to the Lord's day. Thus, instead of sending abroad for preachers, you will be able to raise up among yourselves earnest, truth-loving soldiers of the cross to send out to preach the gospel to the world. 'Never import what you can raise at home' is a maxim as useful in the affairs of the church of God as in domestic economy. We commend to your consideration the following sentiment: The churches of Christ are the only bodies authorized to qualify, appoint, and support evangelists and to direct their labors." F. M. Carmack, Gospel Advocate, 1856, pages 181, 182.