By Mike T. Rogacs
The following is a letter recently received commenting on an article I submitted to Truth Magazine and which was printed in the October 16, 1975 issue of the Magazine. You might wish to refer to the article entitled “Comments On Teaching.” The brother who made the following comments remains anonymous unless in the future he wishes to be known. His letter was as follows:
Dear Brother Rogacs:
I appreciated your article in Truth Magazine “Comments On Teaching”. But I am afraid you are fighting a lost cause.
We have been conditioned down thru the years to have some one do our thinking for us in the church. We are spectators and do not really participate.
People are not allowed to develop their talents in the church today – as they were years ago. They don’t feel a part of the Body as they used to.
How long has it been where you worship since some (layman)? was asked to prepare a lesson and present it to the family? Today we have 1 salesman, 1 problem solver, 1 man – “the” minister as if the Lord had only ONE minister in the body. You just can’t have only one minister and expect the people to take an interest unless they are encouraged or motivated by the Rulers – (they have to, have a change of mind or attitude) or you will always be doing the work of the whole church (I am assuming you are “the minister” since as far as I know only “the ministers” are the only ones who write in Truth Magazine.)
As follows, I wrote this reply to the letter, and I submit both for the edification of you the reader:
I thank you for your kind comment of appreciation of my article in Truth about teaching. But I do believe that you have assumed too much and do indeed show the very reason why I wrote that article.
First of all, I refer to your asking how long it has been since some LAYMAN preached here. I do not like the term layman. It is denominational. It begs the question and demands the presence of a preacher – layman distinction. I hope you used it in jest – or something of the like – and that you do realize that ALL Christians are ministers of the gospel. I am not “THE” in here. I am an evangelist, yes. If you will study the scriptures more closely, you will understand that an evangelist is a man who has the desire to devote his FULL TIME to ministering the gospel to the world. As far as I am concerned, if such was possible, there could be several full time ministers of the gospel in one congregation. But always remember that EVERY Christian is a minister of the gospel though he may devote the major portion of his earthly time to seeking sustenance for his family needs.
But I will agree with you, too many members have conditioned THEMSELVES to believe that there is only one minister to a congregation. This is the need I have seen and of which I have written. And so I have always encouraged the brethren of the congregation (ministers of the gospel who work at other jobs) to do all the teaching they possibly can in assembly. You asked when did they last preach? Well, here at the Capps Road congregation in Harrison, Arkansas; two brethren preached the two Lord’s Day lessons just two weeks ago (this is in November). Also, we devote one Wednesday night a month for preaching by the members. We always ask two of the men (young or older) to prepare a lesson and give it on that evening. So, in November, four different men (two young and two older) chose to speak. This shows both my desire and the desire of this church to give all men the opportunity to teach publicly. (And again you are incorrect if you feel that evangelists are the only ones who write for Truth Magazine.)
Again I notice that you commented that we evangelists (or as you say “THE” minister) “do the thinking” for the membership. I realize that there would be a tendency for such to develop, and this is yet another reason for that article. I have always insisted that the people listening to my lessons study the topic on their own. I insist, but few do so. But if few do so, this does not make the practice of using an evangelist unscriptural. It only shows that individual Christians are too often lazy with their faith. (On the subject of evangelists, notice that God ordained that such should exist – Eph. 4:11. All Christians minister, but God chose to have evangelists, elders and teachers. Not included in this list is the duty of the deacon. Notice then that Philip and Timothy are two famous evangelists-men who devoted their full efforts to preaching and ministering the gospel – Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5. Be also aware that even elders can be full time workers in the Lord’s vineyard – 1 Tim. 5:17-18.)
Your attitude on this matter also shows a fearful misunderstanding of another point: that teaching is not to be limited to the assembly! Your attitude expresses the belief of too many people (again they have conditioned themselves to take this attitude) that teaching is only to be done in assembly. In my article I was hoping to express the thought that teaching outside of assembly to the lost of the world is too often neglected by the members of the congregation. Again too many people think that a chosen few should be the “personal workers” of the church and the preacher and the elders end up doing most of the outside teaching. It is my firm conviction that the scriptures press for preaching and teaching to the lost by every single Christian. This, has to be outside of assembly. The lost who need salvation are usually outside of assembly and will never attend an assembly of God’s people unless and until they are approached by and taught by one of God’s children. This is what I mean when I say that the scriptures teach that every Christian is a minister of the gospel unto the lost and unto fellow brethren.
Where will the Christian who is a woman teach if teaching be only in assembly? 1 Cor. 14:34 instructs that women should be kept silent in the assemblies. Yet women are to teach others. I submit that the Bible is clear in teaching that all women should teach when they can outside of the assembly of the church. Look at the following examples-Acts 18:24-28; Phil. 4:2-3; Titus 2:3-5. No, indeed! Teaching and the necessity of all Christians to teach has not become a “lost cause” because evangelists do most of the teaching in assemblies. Even if there existed no evangelists; there would hardly be enough time for all Christian men to get the necessary amount of teaching (which they should do) done by preaching in the assembly! Some are too shy to do public teaching, but all can teach from house to house. And congregations are often too large to afford the opportunity for many to teach. We in Harrison afford the opportunities to preach to the men NOT so that they can say “I have done my teaching for the year” but so they can get a taste of the teaching they should be doing at all possible times! Take for instance the church in Jerusalem. From the first the congregation was at least 2,000 people strong. As it continued to grow, think of the size! Could the men do all the teaching a Christian SHOULD do in the public assemblies only? No, indeed. So we come to the purpose of evangelists and other public teachers as did the apostles in Jerusalem and all teachers everywhere, public teachers teach the gospel so that Christians can learn what and how to teach on their own! Very few people are converted in assemblies. Assemblies are for the worship of God, for the building up of the body of Christ AND for the instruction on how to take the gospel to the world. (That is the work of the church in assemblies and out of assemblies – Eph. 4:11-15; 3:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:2; etc.)
Again I state that the work of an evangelist in a congregation is scriptural. Any ills that some have imposed upon themselves and others by assuming that the preacher is the only minister in the church and is the only one who is supposed to teach and do other aspects of personal work (visiting the sick and spiritually weak, etc.) come from their own lazy approach to Christianity and not from the existence and work of an evangelist. I do hope that you are not one of my brethren who believe that there should not exist any located or full time preachers. If indeed you do believe such, please consider the following passages: I Cor. 9:6-16, especially verses 11 and 14; 2 Cor. 11:8-9; Timothy, Philip, Titus, Stephen, Barnabas and several other evangelists listed in the scriptures could not possibly have served the gospel as they were required unless they were indeed rewarded with carnal blessings for their spiritual work. Remember, even elders can be full time laborers in the kingdom (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
I hope that these comments will be taken in the spirit of love in which they were given, and that they will benefit your study on this matter. I wish to send these comments along with your letter (minus your name) to Truth Magazine. I do not usually do such, but I believe that your comments and my reply might be of benefit to others. Again, thank you for your comments and interest in this subject. Continue to study.
Mike T. Rogacs, your brother in the Lord and an evangelist for Him.
The letter is finished. I have presented the two for your benefit. I pray that the intended purpose is clear. I must add that I made slight corrections to the wording and spelling in both letters. The changes were not substantial.
Truth Magazine, XX:7, p. 11-12
February 12, 1976