Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3562

Jump Start # 3562

1 Corinthians 4:11 “To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless”

  One of the powerful lessons we see in the lives of the early disciples is that they had a kingdom focus. They viewed themselves as simply a part of that picture and as tools to be used to enhance and grow the kingdom of God.

  Our verse today is a classic example of that mindset. Five descriptive terms are used. All five of them would cause most to complain. All five would be enough for some to declare this isn’t fair and for many, they would quit. Those five expressions: hungry; thirsty; poorly clothed; roughly treated; homeless. The apostles were not the grand ambassadors of the kingdom that some would like to see. We don’t see people buying their meals, giving them expensive clothing, praising them and naming their children after them. Homeless. Roughly treated. Poorly clothed. Thirsty. Hungry. And, why? Because they were engaged in the work of the kingdom. The kingdom was greater than they were. They were second to the kingdom.

  With this background, this same apostle wrote a young preacher and told him to endure hardships. Not the words of encouragement that someone would like to receive. Why would a young preacher like Timothy stay with it? Because he had a kingdom picture in his heart and mind. The kingdom was larger than he was. He was second to the kingdom.

  That spirit is sprinkled through the stories of the early restoration preachers in this country. Many riding on horse back, crossed rivers and got completely wet, only to go to the next place to preach wearing those wet clothes. There is a story of a group of wicked men who placed dynamite inside a pulpit with the attempts to blow a preacher up. I know a preacher who personally told me that he was shoved in a classroom and a knife was pulled out to stab him because that person didn’t agree with what was being preached.

  And, yet, those preachers continued on. Paid pennies. Most struggling to make ends meet, they poured their hearts into preaching and teaching God’s word. They had a Kingdom focus about them.

  We are rapidly heading into a season in which there are fewer and fewer preachers. The number of churches that are looking for a preacher right now is massive. I’ve have been asked so many times recently, “Where are all the preachers?” And, “Why are there so few preachers these days?” And, more concerning, what’s the future going to look like?

  Here are some thoughts:

  First, as to the why there are fewer preachers these day. As generations change, older preachers retire or die. The men that were my mentors, heroes as I began preaching are all mostly gone now. Another reason for fewer preachers is that many congregations are now using two or more preachers. The work is big and the load demands that many. So, that cuts into the pool of preachers. A third reason, is that many have quit. There are all kinds of reasons why, but after a dozen years of preaching, many look elsewhere to do things. Some may not have the stomach to endure hardships. Some run from hardships. And, a fourth reason, is that there isn’t many younger men coming on to be preachers. Maybe they have seen too many horrifying stories about how preachers were treated. Maybe the pressure is too much. Maybe the money elsewhere is too good. But, maybe, we have not done a good enough job of presenting serving in the kingdom as an honorable work to do. In the home and in the congregation, our attitudes about preaching and preachers is heard by little ears and when it’s mostly negative and complaining, why would one want to do that?

  We had a lot of preachers in our home when my children were small. They would have visiting preachers sign their Bibles. We looked upon preachers as heroes. They grew up knowing their names and loving them. My preaching friends became their friends. It doesn’t surprise me that one of my sons chose to preach. All of my children have a strong love for preachers. It’s the atmosphere one creates that can make a difference.

  Second, with fewer preachers, congregations may have to make some visionary adjustments in the future. Some may have to merge. I know for some, they’d rather kiss the devil than sell the building and form a larger and healthier congregation with another one in town. Or, congregations may have to share a preacher. Adjustments of times of services may have to change for one preacher to work with two congregations. Every congregation having their own preacher may soon be a thing of the past. It just may not work.

  Third, more and more men in the congregation will need to step up. Working through the week at a secular job and preaching on Sundays is hard and that may be the future for some congregations. The kingdom will continue on. God promises that. Things change and sometimes we may not like those changes and those changes may require more on our part, but we can do it. Helping one another out will be beneficial as experienced preachers encourage and help newer preachers.

  It could actually be good that there are fewer preachers. It may just require more of us to get off the sidelines and get into the game. Everyone doing their part is how the kingdom grows.

  Kingdom focused—that’s the key.