By Bob Buchanon
How would you like to add new zest and enthusiasm in the local work? How would you like to do that while at the same time be assisting a student develop as a preacher of the gospel? Do you have some money that you would be willing to invest into a great program like this? Are you interested? If so, then we hope you will consider this article carefully.
The Pekin Church, with which I am in my fourth year of labors, tried such a program this past Summer. We have received letters and calls from many preachers and elders about this program after reading of it in The Pekin Bulletin. At the request of Cecil Willis, the student preacher and I are submitting two articles to give more details on this program.
Why a Student?
There were some questions in the minds of some of the brethren here, as well as at other places, when this program was first mentioned. Many members wondered whether this arrangement would work. It did not take but a very short time to see that it would work and that there was more than enough work for both preachers to do.
By trying this program for the Summer, this church had a good part in helping to train and develop a young preacher in using his talents for the Kingdom. This is an important part of a church’s work and the Lord will reward our efforts. It does not matter how much time has been spent in the classroom in trying to learn the “ups and downs” of preaching, one has to get in the pulpit to “try it out.” Experience is one of the greatest teachers. This program gives the student an opportunity to find out what preaching is really all about.
Too many young men have started preaching, only to get discouraged after the first few months, and then quit preaching completely. Most of them were unaware of what to expect. This program really initiates one. It lets a young man decide if he will be happy as a preacher. We do not need to burden the cause of Christ with more half-dedicated, professionally minded “clergymen.” The church does not need men who are trying to “better themselves” as preachers. We need men who are so filled with determination to preach God’s Word, for the salvation of the souls that they love, that self is lost in an all-out effort to further the Cause of Christ.
These student preachers are in a unique position to be especially helpful to perplexed young people in the congregation facing unbelievable problems and pressures in our society. The younger men can understand the feelings that the students are going through. Many of the young people feel that they can relate better to one that is still in college and facing many of these same problems.
Planning Such a Program
Many brethren have inquired about how to plan such an arrangement with a student preacher. The first step is to inquire around and try to find someone who is qualified. There may be a young man in the .local congregation that needs this kind of encouragement and opportunity. If not, there may be someone from a congregation nearby. If neither of these are possibilities, then I would suggest to do what the elders here at Pekin did; get recommendations on a second or third year student from Florida College. .You should not have any trouble in finding an interested student.
The next step is to decide on salary, housing, etc. This will vary with each congregation. The elders at Pekin made an agreement with Brother Brent Hunter to pay a weekly check plus a set amount to be allotted in books for his library. Housing often depends upon the young man’s personality. If practical and housing is available, you might want him to stay with the preacher. If this is not feasible, then find a family with whom he would feel comfortable. Be sure to secure a family that understands the need of semi-privacy and quietness so that he can study. Do not forget to include in your budget to pay the preacher’s wife or member’s wife for room and board during the time that she will be keeping him. An apartment has been used by other congregations, but most of the young men that I have talked with have explained that it gets quite lonely.
One of the most important things about planning such a program as this is to plan it early. .If this program interests you, start today in making contacts with prospects for the Summer. Don’t wait until the middle of May and expect to find someone ready to move there and work in June. The earlier you can make a commitment, the more time you will have to ,”get acquainted.” If a student is chosen from another congregation or from Florida College, then start writing him and becoming friends. If the church publishes a bulletin, then add his name to the mailing list so he can start showing interest in the local work. You might find it helpful to have him send a bulletin article to be published shortly before he arrives. Get his picture and put it on the bulletin board. In this way, everyone will be excited ‘about his coming and recognize him when he first arrives.
What Does He Do?
This, too, will depend upon each congregation. He can be used in teaching Bible classes, both publicly and privately, in preaching, in assisting with the bulletin, radio, newspaper articles, etc. One of the important things that a congregation must remember is not to be selfish during the Summer with two preachers–allow one of them to be away. There are many rural congregations around without preachers that would be thrilled to have someone to preach for them. Many elders develop the feeling that the work of spreading Truth must be limited to the four walls of their building. This ought not to be. Allow and even encourage more opportunities of preaching. I know of one congregation that was using such a program as this and since the young preacher would be there, the elders sent the “local” preacher to assist in door-to-door work in Canada.
One of the most important things that the student preacher needs to do is study. You can not preach well what you do not know well. You can not know it well unless you have studied it well. A preacher needs to spend much time in his study, giving attention to the things of the gospel. Paul said to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). Also, to “meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Tim.4:15).
In speaking from experience, this is a wonderful program. Let it be remembered, however, that this young man is not coming to work for you, but with you. Are you interested? If so, start today contacting those students that would be interested! This program might even inspire some of your local men to devote their lives to gospel preaching.
Truth Magazine XIX: 11, pp. 168-169
January 23, 1975