Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1953

"Hiring Preachers": The Other Side

Bill Cavender, Dallas, Texas

In the Gospel Advocate of March 5, there appeared an article by Brother B. J. Boyd entitled "Hiring Preachers." The main points of the article were as follows: That one of the great responsibilities of elders is the employment of a preacher; that often elders do not take the precautions in employing a preacher that a business man would in hiring an employee; that after the preacher is employed he then begins to preach his hobbies that hinder the cause of Christ; that if the elders try to terminate the preacher's services, a division is sometimes caused; that there is only one solution to the problem, that is, for elders to check references from the last two places that the preacher has worked, or they may get a wolf in sheep's clothing; that if the preacher is a troublemaker at one place, he will also be at another. It is a good article from the elder's standpoint and events are like this many times. However, the article ignores completely another side of the matter, that is, the preacher's side. The writer seems to conclude that always the preacher would be at fault and never the elders or a congregation.

Many times a preacher contacts the elders of a church, or the elders contact him, and he is invited to come, preach a "trial sermon," "look things over," and to consider working with that church. He goes, a nice picture is painted by the elders, and he moves to that place. Shortly he begins to find out the true condition of the church. There may be a "hobbyist" in the church; there may notorious sin among some of the members; there may be a compromising attitude toward error and sin on the part of the church and even the elders themselves. The faithful preacher must note these things and deal with them. He preaches about the hobby of the hobbyist, and the hobbyist begins calling the preacher a "hobbyist." He preaches against sin in the church, and he becomes a "troublemaker." He preaches that elders should admonish and discipline members who are committing notorious sins. They call him a "dictator," accuse him of "trying to run the church," and of trying to "dictate" to the elders. The faithful preacher soon realizes he is accomplishing nothing, so he decides to move on, or is forced to by the elders.

The next place the preacher contacts about his work will want references. These elders will write the elders where the preacher had previously lived. They receive the reply that the preacher is a "hobbyist," "troublemaker," and a "dictator" and will ruin the church and cause trouble wherever he goes, when, in reality, the preacher loves the Lord, the church, and the truth, and has only done his duty as the Bible teaches him to do it.

If elders have a right to investigate a preacher, the preacher also has the right to investigate the congregation and its elders. If not, why not? Both should be done! A preacher should visit a place before he moves there, preach a "trial" sermon, and talk to the elders. He should also talk to some of the members, talk to some of the people in the town, and most of all, he should contact the last two or three preachers who have worked there and ask them about conditions in the congregation. Often a preacher will be saved hours of sorrow, heartaches and tears if he will investigate a church before agreeing to work with them. Many times his good name and reputation can be ruined by ungodly brethren who will never repent of their ungodliness. Preacher, it will be to your advantage to investigate!

Often it is true that a congregation finds they have a preacher who is a "wolf in sheep's clothing." It is also true that many times a faithful preacher finds, after moving to a place, that he is in the midst of a "pack of wolves in sheep's clothing."