The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

The Edifier Index

Preachers and Ethics


Recently a Brazoria County Baptist "pastor" continued preaching despite being released from duties after eight years of service.Many of the longtime members of the group were ready for him to leave, while the newer members encouraged him to stay on. Some of his supporters tried to seize the church finances; claiming the church constitution, authorizing only the deacons to control the finances, was never approved by the congregation. The deacons filed suit and a District Judge ordered the church to vote on his fate.

How can such problems be avoided in churches of Christ? To answer this question, it is important that we never overlook some very basic New Testament principles relating to the Lord's church.

In the days of the apostles, one pastor did not shepherd a flock (i.e., a single congregation). The terms pastor, elder and bishop are used interchangeably in the New Testament. They are different designations of the same service. When Paul preached the gospel and planted churches in various cities, he ordained "elders" (plural) "in every church" (Acts 14:23). These men were the pastors, bishops (overseers), and elders of their congregations.Perhaps if "The Pastor" mentioned above had served with other pastors, there would be less disruption over his leaving or staying. Perhaps if he was designated an "evangelist," he and others would realize that his work, in that capacity, is not permanent in one location (2 Tim 4:5; Acts 8:5,26; 21:8).

2)     Paul teaches, by inspiration of God, that congregational matters are best settled internally. He rebuked the church in Corinth for airing their dirty laundry before the world in the judicial courts. Among other things Paul said, "I say this to your shame.Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren" (1 Cor 6:5)?  Indeed, elders should be equipped to render a judgment between members in conflict, but so should any "wise man" who has no stake in either side.

 3)Preachers who enter a congregation looking for supporters, likely have their own best interest at heart. An evangelist should never move into a congregation thinking he must stay until "such and such" a time. He should realize that he is there to preach the word of God to as many as will listen. After a certain amount of time it is normal for him to carry on his work in other places. Men like Paul, Silas, Barnabus, John Mark, Timothy, Titus and Apollos, in their work as evangelists, never stayed in one place very long. They preached the gospel, appointed elders, trained teachers and moved on.They held not the idol of covetousness and convenience in their hearts.

 4)Majority rule in congregational decisions is simply not Biblical. The elders of that church best direct the choice of whether a church should support an evangelist. They are charged with feeding the flock of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2). These men of wisdom do not close their ears to the thoughts and concerns of their members, but direct the congregation in a harmonious decision. In the absence of elders, the same procedure should be followed.

Finally, "church constitutions" were unheard of in the early church. The word of God determines when to collect money from the church and how to use it. When Christians lay by in store on the first day of the week, that money no longer belongs to them, it belongs to the Lord (Acts 5:4). These funds are to be used in ways He designates, i.e., supporting preaching/teaching, and care for the indigent members among them an in other places (1 Cor 9:1-18; 16:1-4).

These are the kinds of problems that arise when religious people follow men and human tradition rather than the word of the Lord. It can happen any place at any time, but when people heed the Lord and His apostles, such problems do not exist...for long.