Jump Start # 2038
Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including overseers and deacons.”
Our verse today, the opening sentence of the Philippian letter, is often used to define the organization within a congregation. There are saints, overseers and deacons. That simplistic organization is not just God’s pattern, but it works. No hierarchy. No board of directors. No outside administration. No structure ties to anything else. Smooth, clean, simple and functional. It stays on the local level. That’s God’s design. The religious community follows the business model of franchises, massive corporate boards, presidents, elected officials and money flowing here and there. We need to get back to God’s simple plan and understand that we cannot improve upon what God designs.
The front part of this verse is what is often not talked about much. The Paul and Timothy section. The Paul and Timothy relationship. A church having two preachers. I want to share some thoughts about this. I work with another preacher. It’s a wonderful setting. I am blessed. Years ago I was in other two preacher arrangements. They weren’t so hot.
I’ve noticed through the years that brethren tend to follow fads. That’s not always bad, but sometimes one wonders. What one church does, soon others do. We saw this with the introduction of powerpoint projectors. When they first came out they were novel and everyone had to have them. I visited some little country churches that had one but no one knew how to use it. The projector was there but never used. Why they got one seemed to be a matter of keeping up with all the other congregations.
It seems the same is happening now with two preachers in one congregation. The work load, size and demands ought to dictate whether two men are needed. Some places, that seem rather small, and do not seem to be doing much, yet, there they are looking for a second preacher. Is that necessary, or is it just keeping up with others? Larger congregations that have so much going on actually need probably more than just two.
I have helped congregations in the thinking process of finding a second preacher. As more and more of this is taking place, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts. Understand, these are my thoughts, not Gospel. But in talking with others, I find that some haven’t fully thought out just what they were looking for in another preacher.
So, here we go.
What is the purpose of having a second preacher? Is it to do more than can be done now, or is it to lessen the load of the current preacher? Fair question to ask. What is needed to be done? If a church is wanting to do more with social media, than that will direct and guide them into what kind of preacher they are looking for. Do you want two men who are about the same age? Or, do you want a younger man and an older man? Do you want a second man whose talents are different than the current preacher? Think these things out before you start looking for a preacher.
How long do you intend for the second preacher, or in that case, the first preacher, to be with you? Is the second preacher eventually going to be the replacement of the first preacher when he retires or no longer can preach? If a legacy situation is what you are looking for, then that needs to be on the table when talking to someone. Letting them know that the church would like you to stay 25-30 years has a lot to do with making a decision.
It is imperative, foremost, and extremely important, that the two preachers get along. In theory, all preachers ought to be able to work together. That is not reality. Paul and Barnabas had a parting. That could really mess up the balance in a congregation if that took place. Egos, personalities, families, ideology, even doctrinal views must be ironed out and worked out together. This means the current preacher ought to have a major role in finding the second preacher. Forcing two men to work together may cause one or both to leave. An eldership finding a second preacher and then announcing that he is the one without any input by the current preacher is not only insulting, messy, it’s a sure disaster to come.
This means there must be lots and lots of meetings between the two possible preachers. They must work together, get along and like each other. Meetings with the two preachers and the eldership must take place. Slow is the word here. Don’t be in a hurry. Getting the wrong person is worse than not getting anyone. If there is an age difference, the eldership must deal with a difference in the pay scale and benefits. The second preacher needs a place to work. Is there room at the church building, or will he be stuck in a classroom? Think that out.
It is important that the expectations and work load is understood, defined and worked out before a second preacher is hired. Who is going to preach on Sunday mornings? Are they going to share that or is it just the older preacher? Who is teaching what classes? Who is doing what? Is the second preacher to be viewed as an equal or an intern? Is the second preacher answerable to the current preacher or just the eldership? What if they are both out of town the same week? Is that what a church wants?
A church having two preachers works beautifully when there is a need and everyone understands their roles and there is a mutual respect and love for each other. When that is missing, trouble looms. I’m hearing more and more churches hiring a second preacher without the knowledge of the first preacher. This forced relationship is full of issues and trouble. We can do better than that. We must do better than that.
Talk it out first. Map it out second. Get a list of possible candidates. Start the interview process. Don’t rush to try someone out before the congregation. Meetings, meetings, meetings and lots of discussion and questions and ideas and sharing must take place first. If an eldership will take their time and heavily involve the current preacher, then it can be a beautiful and helpful relationship. If they don’t, things will only get worse.
Paul and Timothy. Older and younger. Co-workers. One inspired, one not. One an apostle, one not. Yet together, they made a team. Putting Christ first, learning from one another, helping one another, building off of one another, makes a beautiful team. Like a pair of Olympic skaters, they move and work in unison. That’s the goal. That’s the way it ought to be.
Do you need two preachers? Can you afford two preachers? What will a second preacher do for you? Do you have room for a second preacher? Answer those questions before you start looking. Don’t just follow what everyone else is doing. Two hard working preachers that are giving their lives for the Lord is amazing. But two preachers looking for a lazy way to do the work that one can do, ought to be put out to pasture.
Think it through…