Preachers in Rotation
Elders have their qualifications. Deacons have their qualifications. Preachers have qualifications? Seriously?? Yes seriously. Let’s put things into perspective here. The Bible teaches that a preacher not only has a specific function in the local church, he also has specific qualifications and what this means is that not all the men in the church are qualified to be preachers. Was not the apostles Paul ordained (1 Timothy 2:7)? This means that he was appointed. Appointed by whom? The Bible says, “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:10-12). We can see here that "evangelists" were among those given by the Lord in the local church with an important function to perform just like the pastors (shepherds) have an important function (Acts 20:28).
So, what are the qualifications of a preacher? Well, evangelists may be young men (1 Timothy 4:12). They do not have to be married (1 Corinthians 9:5) despite the “package deals.” Another qualification is that while preachers do not have any legislative authority like elders do, preachers must speak the word of God with “all authority” (Titus 2:15). Preachers speak the message boldly showing no respect of persons, including elders (1 Timothy 5:19-21). But, why brings up qualifications for preachers? It is because just as there can be “unqualified” elders in the church there can also be “unqualified” preachers and teachers in the church. The pulpit is not designed for a “weekend warrior” nor should elders make the statement, “We have plenty of people who can “fill” the pulpit while we search for a new minister and in fact, we can go many months without a located preacher.” Sadly, I have seen pulpits empty for as long as 8 years. Still, evangelist have a specific work to perform, "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5). What weekend preacher is going to do this? If anyone is unwilling or unable to perform this work, he should not be a preacher because preaching is not easy. It is not a motivational talk about current events nor is it about fluff. It is about endurance and affliction and that is because a minister has seriously invested his life in service to God and the church. The gospel preacher, no matter how loving and kind he tries to be will find opposition from those, both within and outside the church who do not want to submit themselves to the message of Christ.
So, before becoming the weekend warrior, consider the work of the evangelist. God said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4). This shows us that if the preacher is to preach all the word of God then he needs to know the word. He also needs to have some “thick skin” to be able to endure sound doctrine. See, when you preach, the word of God becomes offensive to some both in and out of the church (1 Peter 2:8; 2 Timothy 4). Most Christians have little idea how much pressure a minister is under. As a result of preaching, ministers quit and a lot of them quit because of the constant nagging and complaining from brethren.
Now, let’s consider speaking rotations. Many today believe that the pulpit should be rotated by all the men in the church, in the same way as they would be rotated to lead in prayer or assist in the Lord's Supper. Men will even say things like, “see, we have lots of talent here. Anyone can preach.” Others believe that the pulpit is where one can work on themselves. Some believe that you do not have to be trained or be a professional to present God’s Word. True. But, a novice should not be in the pulpit anymore than a novice be in the eldership. The pulpit is also not a place to “wing it” nor is it a place to show diversity to diverse people. Sadly, I have heard far too many stories in the pulpit even after the Bible states, “what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:5). You see, preachers are more than just a body behind some wood. Also, preacher are not just God-fearing, Christ-centered people who love souls. Looking at the Bible, preachers are charged that "they teach no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3). Preachers are taught to "teach faithful men to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2). Preachers are to “…set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” which requires a great deal of work (Titus 1:5). A “weekend warrior” cannot do these things because he is not invested in the work.
Local churches should seek to appoint an evangelist who is courageous in preaching the truth. They should give him time to study (2 Timothy 2:15), and freedom to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26). Only those appointed to the position and who have the qualifications should serve as pulpit evangelists. The pulpit is not something that men should be just encouraged to "have a go at." The destiny of souls, and the motivation of the church is far too vital for this. And, might I add some additional thoughts: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). On top of that, preachers must be an example, “… in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).