1 Thessalonians 2: Evangelists as Fathers and Not Shepherds

1 Thessalonians 2: Evangelists as Fathers and Not Shepherds

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a sweet lady who lamented concerning her “pastor,” “He’s a fine preacher, but not a very good pastor.” I don’t know how the present one-man pastor system started, but it certainly didn’t do the world or gospel preachers any favors. It can’t be found in principle or practice anywhere in the New Testament.

One boast among members of the churches of Christ is the claim of “scriptural church organization.” That is, the local congregation is not run by the preacher (commonly mislabeled by others as the pastor), but rather has a group of men identified in Scripture as elders who oversee local congregational affairs.

However, a proper external structure should not be confused with a proper internal practice. The two are not the same. In many congregations I know, the preacher functions as a de facto pastor. He does all (or most all) of the teaching. He does all (or most all) of the visiting, be it hospital, in home, contacting visitors, visiting and encouraging new or delinquent members. He does all (or most all) of the day to day duties to keep the local church going: ordering class and/or office supplies; finding or recruiting teachers; arranging for repairs or improvements to the facility; handling benevolence calls; working as a liaison between the congregation and the community; etc. The elders and brethren are perfectly content to let the preacher handle every detail, and some preachers are content to have it that way. My brethren, these things ought not so to be!

Paul indicated that he and his accompanying brethren gave themselves wholly to the brethren for the purpose of preaching the gospel (1 Thes 2:8-9). Everything they did, be it exhortation, comfort, or pleading, was to assist the brethren to walk worthy of God who had called them into His own kingdom and glory.

Paul described their work as the care of a mother (v 7) and guidance of a father (v 11). This would include each one taking responsibility for his own spiritual growth and development (Phil 2:12) as well as participation in the local work of the church (Eph 4:16).

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