Thesis: Good preacher-church relations begin with the preacher.
1. Opening remarks.
2. Illust. A preacher's wife in a large church once asked a new member how he liked his new church home. "Great! The church is friendly, I love the building, the singing is excellent, and the teaching program is practical." "What about the preaching?" the preacher's wife asked. "Well, quite frankly, that's one area I've been disappointed in. The sermons are dry, too long, and don't relate well to my life." Preacher's wife: "Do you know who I am?" Man: "No." "Preacher's wife." Man: "Do you know who I am?" "No." "Good!" He then disappeared into the crowd.
I. PREACHER-CHURCH RELATIONSHIPS.
A. The importance of a good preacher-church relationship cannot be overemphasized.
1. When there is conflict in the church, often it can be traced to the preacher and his relationship to the congregation.
a. People in the church sometimes complain:
1) He's too bossy ................................ too passive.
2) He's not spiritual enough ........... goody-two-shoes.
3) He wants to change things ......... shows no initiative.
4) He studies too much ................. lessons aren't good.
b. Preachers complain too:
1) They don't respect my divinely-appointed leadership!
2) They give me tons of responsibility but no authority!
3) I'm overworked and underpaid--I do it all around here!
c. When this kind of tension exists, Satan gets a foothold and the church will not grow.
2. Numerous studies have indicated that one of the keys to church growth is a lengthy stay/ministry by preachers.
a. Illust. Lyle Schaller in Assimilating New Members, gives 12 ways to keep people from joining your church. One of them is to change preachers every 2-3-4 years. Scary. Someone has observed that the avg. stay of ministers in CsOC is less than 2 years.
b. Illust. Lynn Anderson preached for the Highland CoC (Abilene, TX) for nearly 20 years. He once said regarding the success of a preacher in a church: "The first 2 years you can do nothing wrong. The second 2 years you can do nothing right. The 5th and 6th years of a ministry, either you leave, or the people who think you can do nothing right leave. Or you change, or they change, or you both change. Productive ministry emerges somewhere in the 7th year or beyond."
B. How does a long, successful relationship between a church and its preacher happen? Not by accident!
1. Happens the same way a long, successful marriage--faithfulness.
2. While the relationship between a church and its preacher is somewhat less than a marriage covenant--it's still a covenant--and covenants are not to be set aside lightly.
II. THE CHALLENGE OF PREACHING (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
A. Low view of preachers and preaching.
1. Illust. Words are cheap in this age of information. General mistrust of people who use words for a living--preachers, used car salesmen, and politicians fall in that category. "Don't preach to me!" has bad connotations.
2. Illust. Observe how preachers are depicted by the media. One of two extremes. One is "Father Mulcahey" (MASH)--weak, wimpy, irrelevant, good guy on the fringe of real life. Other is "Elmer Gantry" variety (Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggert)--corrupt, conniving, hypocrite.
3. Illust. Even in the Church there is a low view of preaching. Someone has compared preaching to trying to fill a pop bottle by throwing a pail of water over it. A little gets inside, but most will be spilled on the ground and wasted. Nearly 50 years ago someone described the typical Sunday AM sermon: "The faithful still gather at the appointed hour before the pulpit to submit themselves to their Sunday martyrdom, but none expect less from the sermon than these, except the man who is preaching it."
B. High expectation of preachers and preaching.
1. In spite of everything we've just said, preachers and preaching have been a fixture in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition for over 2,000 years!
2. Worship styles have come and gone--preachers & preaching have stayed. That fact betrays the high expectation we have of p/prchng.
3. Illust. "THE PERFECT PREACHER" After 100s of years the perfect preacher has finally been found. He preaches exactly 20 minutes and then sits down. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone's feelings. He works from 7 AM to 10 PM in every type of work from preaching to taxi service. He makes $500 a week, owns a home, a nice car, is sending his kids to college, and gives $100 a week to the church. He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years. He has a burning desire to work with youth, but spends all his time with the older folks. He is well-educated but never says anything we didn't know already. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls a day on church members, spends all his time evangelizing the lost, and is never out of his office.