"Should I Preach?"

Michael A. Tanner
Temple Terrace, Florida

Many a dedicated young Christian man is faced with the momentous question "Should I preach?" He can look around him and see the grave need for men to tell the lost of the Christ. He can feel the responsibility imposed on him by his knowledge of the Gospel. Yet, he may never heed this call to preach, or, having heeded it he may face obstacles which will cause him to consider, and perhaps to enter, another type of work. One of the great obstacles which he may face comes in the form of another question: "Who wants to listen to me?" His knowledge of the Scriptures may not be as deep as that of a more experienced preacher. His words may not come as readily, and, when they come, they may not be ordered in the most logical and forceful manner.

Thus, it is natural that he doubt his acceptability to a church accustomed to such orators and students as James P. Miller and Homer Hailey; yet, he must have sufficient opportunities to develop his talents. What he needs is not a pat on the back and the "you'll-be-a-fine-preacher-someday" line. He needs the wholehearted support of Christians interested in spreading the borders of the kingdom. Their assistance may come as sincere words of encouragement or as the constructive criticism which the young preacher needs, or it may come as instruction which gives a fuller insight into the Word. One of the most helpful things that can be done is to provide the young preacher with the opportunity to work full time studying and teaching. Such an opportunity would certainly be an open door to service in the kingdom of God.

That door has been opened to the young preacher who is writing this article. For the past several years, I have felt as Paul in regard to preaching the Gospel - "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel." In an effort to obtain a broad and yet detailed understanding of the Bible, I have spent three years at Florida College and intend to spend one more, for here I am afforded the opportunity to study at the feet of men with an exceptional knowledge of and love for the truth. However, the classroom and the study cannot provide all I and others need to become effective preachers; only experience can bridge the gap.

Realizing the great need for encouraging novice preachers, the brethren who meet on Clinton Boulevard in Jackson, Mississippi, have engaged me to work with them this summer while their regular preacher, A. H. Payne, conducts Gospel meetings. (Brother Payne, an exceedingly capable and dedicated evangelist, will be available for meetings between May 7 and August 27. Any congregation interested in scheduling him for a meeting should write him at 5535 Clinton. Boulevard, Jackson, Mississippi, 39029, as quickly as possible.)

The program which the brethren have in mind is indeed an aggressive one, for they, a congregation of about seventy members, plan to support Brother Payne fully in his evangelistic work while supporting me fully in the work in Jackson. It is hoped not only that this program will result in the salvation of souls and the development of a young preacher but also that it will produce spiritual growth in the church in Jackson and that it will provoke other congregations to a similar work.

Thank God for this rare opportunity!

April 1969