Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1952

Where Can I Find It?

Quentin A. Dunn, Brenham, Texas

Many times I hear my brethren say that those of us who are members of the church of Christ accept the Bible as our guide, that we speak where the Bible speaks and that we are silent where it is silent, call Bible things by Bible names, and do Bible things the Bible way. Surely it is right to study the New Testament and follow its commands; however after observing many common practices of the church of Christ I am constrained to ask, where can I find it? Do I find it in the Bible, or do I learn about it by talking with some of my brethren? How often do we hear the expression, if a thing is taught in the New Testament we must accept it, and if a thing is not taught in the New Testament we cannot safely practice it? Let us now consider a few things that are commonly practiced by the church of Christ.

Nearly every congregation feels the need of a preacher, and when a church does not have a preacher we hear the cry, we must get a preacher! Under such circumstances a number of preachers are called for "try out sermons." This is done for the purpose of finding a suitable man for the work. Brethren, do we find anything in the New Testament about "trial sermons," do we have a direct command from God, and if so where can I find chapter and verse? I have not been able to find any such command in the New Testament, if it is there I would appreciate someone telling me where it is. Do we have a divine approved example in the Bible of any preacher going to a church for a "trial sermon"? Do we find a record in the Bible of Timothy or Titus going to a church for a "trial sermon"? If so will some of my good brethren please give me chapter and verse? Or do we find anything in the entire New Testament, that leads us to believe, that calling preachers for "try out sermons" must have been practiced? I do not find any such evidence, but I realize that there may possibly be such evidence, and if there is I would surely like to learn about it.

Another thing that is commonly practiced in connection with hiring a regular preacher is "voting on them." I have had elders say to me after preaching a "trial sermon," we are going to have a few more "try outs" and we will confer with the congregation and see who they want. We will keep you in mind, and if we decide to hire you we will let you know. This process of calling men for "try outs" and "voting on them" sometimes goes on for several months. I have known of congregations having twenty five or thirty "try out sermons." They of course would compare these men with each other. They would compare their personalities, style of delivery, sound of voice, and many other things. It seems to me that arraying so many men against each other for a job is putting the matter of employing a preacher into a political category. It is not uncommon for the interest in the work of the church to languish when they have so many different preachers "trying out" for the work. When the brethren see this condition they usually decide that it is time to go ahead and get a preacher. Under such circumstances if a preacher visits them, preaches a good sermon, has a good personality, and makes a good impression usually he is hired. This does not necessarily mean that he is better qualified for the work than any of the other preachers that "tried out" for it. It does mean in many cases that he visited the brethren at the proper time, and that he made a good impression. The Bible teaches that we are to do things decently and in order. Is it decent and in order to array so many preachers against each other for a job? Now of course if this procedure of securing the services of a preacher is scriptural we must practice it. But do we find anything in the entire New Testament about this procedure of securing the services of a preacher? I do not find it in the Bible. Where have I learned about this procedure? I have learned it from personal experience, observation, talking with my brethren, and reading the religious journals. It may be taught in the Bible, and if it is I wish someone would tell me where I can find it.

Since it is so important for a church to have a preacher, surely God has not left us without instruction about the matter of getting one. The Bible does speak of sending preachers, their qualifications, recommending them, and receiving them. Would it not be in harmony with the Bible and good judgment for the elders of a local congregation to get well acquainted with the sound gospel preachers who labor nearby, and when the church over which they have the oversight needs a preacher, have one of these preachers recommend them a preacher? The elders could tell the preacher about what kind of man they need, whether they need a young preacher or an older one, etc. Much embarrassment could be avoided by following this procedure. There is no use calling a boy for a "try out sermon" if the brethren know they do not want a boy preacher. This is not fair to the boy. Yet this is done many times. After satisfactory recommendations are made, the preacher who is to be employed, should be sent to the church that needs his services, and the brethren should receive him. If the preacher to be employed, makes arrangements with the brethren to preach for them before he is hired, and talks the situation over with the brethren before making a deal with them it is alright, however it ought to be understood that he is not just visiting to "try out and to be compared with other preachers."

In closing this lesson I refer the readers to Philippians 2:19-30 for most careful and prayerful consideration. Paul had labored with the Philippians and he loved them, but he was convinced that Timothy would care for them just as much, so he promised to send Timothy to them shortly. Paul also promised to send Epaphroditus to the Philippians, and told them to receive him in the Lord. I notice that Paul did not tell them to "try these preachers out," array them one against the other, or compare them with other preachers. I am sure that we would do well to send preachers, recommend preachers, and receive them.