Jump Start # 3108
Acts 16:2 “And he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.”
There is a crisis taking place. A major shortage. It’s nationwide. It’s not baby formula that I have in mind. It’s not supplies that may be sitting on a ship on the West coast. But something is missing and it’s just getting harder and harder any more. What am I talking about? Preachers. Yep, there seems to be a short supply of preachers these days. Some may rejoice. Many won’t notice. But it ought to be something that catches our attention and we ought to be concerned. There are a few reasons for this.
First, the generation before me is basically done. There are not many of that generation that are still actively preaching. My generation is experiencing many who are retiring.
Second, since Covid, many have quit. One reason or another, many found it easier working secular jobs than staying with preaching.
Third, there many congregations that now have two preachers and that drains the small pool of preachers even more.
Fourth, fewer younger men are becoming preachers.
And, because of this, so many congregations are looking for a preacher. I don’t remember another time when I have heard of so many churches that were looking for a preacher. Now, in some ways this provides the opportunity for men in the congregation who are not preachers to step up and do what they can. This is good, but it’s only a bandaid. After awhile, this gets old, fewer will want to volunteer and the depth of lessons often is missing.
We may be heading into a season where preachers may have to work with more than one congregation.
Our passage is a powerful reminder of the value of mentoring and leading our young men into serving the Lord. Our verse is about young Timothy. Paul chose Timothy because of what he saw in that young man. He was well spoken of by brethren in two different cities. Timothy had been busy. He was working with churches in such a way that he had established himself as being faithful, dependable and something that Paul noticed.
What can we learn from this:
First, in our homes, has serving in the kingdom lost it’s appeal? Where are the men who are stepping up to serve as shepherds? Where are the young men who are being allowed to give lessons and being encouraged to preach? Has income tainted our eyes about things? Do we hold our sons with such strong grips that we do not want them to live far from us? Timothy was leaving. His mother didn’t know if she would see him again. Things were dangerous wherever Paul traveled. Yet, she let him go. Seek first the kingdom means just that. The kingdom takes on more than just a priority, it becomes the priority. It’s first on my mind. It’s first in my heart. It’s before what I want. It’s before my happiness. It’s before all things. Paul wanted Timothy. In our times today, a Timothy’s mom would pitch a fit. He’s going to the local university. He’s staying around here. He’s going to marry a nice girl and the grandkids will be with me. He has so much talent that he’s going to business school. He can always preach later, if he wants to. But that wasn’t the thinking of Timothy’s real mom. Paul needed him and she let him go.
Second, have we lost the honor of preaching within our congregations? Anybody can preach, and most often they do. Try anything and everything first, then if all else fails, you can preach. I am honored to have near and dear to me some of the greatest preachers our times have known. They do more than just give a lesson on Sunday and teach a class. They are going out of their way and doing the extras that no one requires, expects or thinks of. Special classes. Unique podcasts. Powerful blogs. Traveling near and far to teach the good news of a risen Savior. These men have poured their lives, their hearts and their energy to being the best that they can. All of them could throw a sermon together in a matter of a few minutes, but not one of them would do that. They hold with the highest integrity what they are doing. They are examples of the dignity and honor of preaching God’s word. They deserve every nickel they are being paid and more.
But within the congregation, have we lowered our estimation of preaching? Have we cheapened what God has established? It is through preaching that God chose to deliver His message. Noah, Moses, the prophets, the apostles, John the baptist, and even our Lord were all preachers. Maybe some preachers are the cause of this indifference to them. Maybe some have not worked hard. Maybe some have not lead an example that ought to be followed. That’s a few bad examples. That’s not declaring God’s way and God’s system is broken.
Third, we need to develop a way to get young men to see the value of preaching. We can do this by allowing young men to give lessons. We can do this by having preachers help young men. We can do this by creating a culture in which we take care of our preachers and we train men to understand that preaching is more than what happens on Sunday morning.
Preachers are not our solution, salvation or hope. Jesus is. But through the avenue of preaching, God’s word can be deeply and clearly taught. Lives can be changed. Grace can be understood. Hope can spring forth. Will we survive with fewer preachers? Yes. Will there be a shift someday and more step up to preach? We hope.
Congregations that have a preacher that is doing a great job need to take care of him. That involves much, much more than a monthly paycheck. Do you support him emotionally? Have you told him that? Aside from a paycheck, what are you doing for him? Have you asked, “Why would someone want to stay among us and preach?” Does he receive more complaints that compliments? Do you supply him with the tools so he can do his job effectively? What about burnout? Have you noticed any signs? Are you willing to do anything about it? Does he have to use a vacation to take off a holiday? So many things to think about. Everyone wants a Thoroughbred, but if we treat him like a mule, he’ll look for greener pastures.
Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. Timothy’s mom didn’t stand in the way…