Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 24, 1970
NUMBER 33, PAGE 9b-10

No Place For "Young, Inexperienced" Preachers?

J. F. Dancer, Jr.

In a recent article entitled "Preacher Shortage?" by Wallace H. Little a problem was presented of a young, capable, but inexperienced gospel preacher having difficulty in finding a place to preach. I'm sure brother Little hit at one of the weaknesses among brethren in "trying out" preachers and trying to pick out the "best" one for each particular work. Having been a young, inexperienced preacher at one time myself (and I still like to think of myself as "young" — I'm 40 and have been preaching since I was 23), I think I can understand the problem. Not knowing the young man of whom brother Little spoke, I can't specifically solve (or answer) his problems, but I think I can present some "answers" to the problem of "young preachers" finding a place to locate.

Some young preachers have difficulty in finding a place to locate or of remaining located because they try to push the brethren into doing things "my way." Now "my way" is the best in my own eyes but brethren are slow to let a young preacher tell them that the way they've done things for years is all out of date (even when it is). Some young men present themselves (maybe unintentionally) as being full of all the right answers and capable of solving all problems. As a result a self-assured, thoroughly sincere person zealous to serve God, many times seems cocky and arrogant to those who listen from the pews. Even preachers need to give thought to Phil. 2:14; Rom. 12:3, 16; I Tim. 4:12 and I Pet. 5:5, 6.

Another problem with the young preacher finding a place to locate is the desire of some to start at the "top" of the financial scale. The Lord knows that brethren need to support preachers better and that many preachers could make more money at some secular work, but that isn't the point. The point is that when some young men begin to preach they expect to be supported as well as many older men or else they expect to be paid as much as they could make (or were making) at secular work. This may be the thing to "expect," but when this is made known to many brethren, they will decide they are better off without a "full time" preacher!

A third problem seen in the lives of some young, inexperienced preachers is their view of the work of preaching. Some seem to think it is an office job where they spend hours in the study and then present two lessons on Lord's day with time off for golf, lectureships, paid vacations, etc. When this is made known to some brethren, they decide they don't want him. Many expect too much of a preacher, but others simply want a man who will study, preach and knock on doors to reach the lost and the straying members. They want someone to "beat the bushes" and many young men don't want to do this.

Another problem has to do with the "mod" appearance of some young preachers. The long hair, long sideburns and "mod" clothing is accepted dress in many areas. It has been accepted as the style by most young people but many older brethren look with distaste upon a preacher who appears dressed in this manner. True, it is his right to dress as he desires (to some degree), but he may have to give up some of his liberties if he is to be supported so he can give his "full time" to preaching.

I realize some of the bigger churches are placing more emphasis upon the education of the preacher and his ability to write and his popularity on certain college campuses and if this has become typical, then we need to "wake up" as brother Little says. However, let's stop passing the buck, if a man wants to preach, there's plenty of room! I know of many young preachers who have no college education, have never been on the property of one of "our" colleges, have never written an article for one of the "brotherhood newspapers" but are preaching every Sunday. They didn't start out with $150.00 plus a week, with house and utilities, paid vacations and continued support while they hold eight to twelve meetings a year, but they wanted to preach and they are!

Several years ago brother Eugene Winter gave me the following advice when I asked him about how a young, inexperienced preacher who had never written an article for a brotherhood paper (didn't even subscribe to one) and did not have a college degree, could find a place to preach. He said words to this effect, "Come up north where the church is weak numerically, get a job, support yourself and preach for the brethren who don't think they can afford a 'full time' man. Prove yourself worthy of being supported and you will have no problem." Now, one doesn't have to go up north to find situations like this. If a man wants to preach and can't find full time work, let him take secular work, support himself and preach where he can. In time he will become an "older, experienced preacher." His first full time work may not pay him enough but that he will have to pinch pennies and sacrifice some of the luxuries other brethren enjoy, but if he wants to preach he can.

Preachers who do this may not make the college lectureships and they probably won't have weekly articles in one of the brotherhood papers, but they will be preaching and theoretically this is what they want to do. There is a shortage of men who will sacrifice to preach.

There are several who will be ready to move into a "good work" after another has knocked on doors, sacrificed and worked to help brethren become self-supporting. If a young man wants to preach he can — maybe not where he might desire, or maybe not at the salary he desires but he will gain experience in due time.

There is a shortage of young men (and older ones) who will give up some of their own rights, who will work patiently with older, complacent brethren in order to see some changes for good, and who will, when necessary, turn to secular work in order to provide a living for their families as they preach the gospel. Probably there will always be a shortage of men like these. However, those of this nature will find a place to preach and the Lord will bless their efforts.

Churches need to look at the "requirements" they have when looking for a man to support to preach the gospel and make some changes. At the same time young preachers need to look at their "requirements" as they talk with churches about supporting them. They need to examine their own thinking and see if they want to preach or if they are just desirous of becoming a preacher.

— 3176 Raines Road, Memphis, Tennessee 38118