By Clinton Douglas III
In a word, I don’t know why some of my preaching colleagues move from one local work to another before settling down. I’ve been told that some do it for personal reasons, and it comes across that I’m not to inquire what those personal reasons are. So I don’t know. I personally believe that some move for the following reasons:
1. Misunderstandings. In other words, either the preacher get his information mixed up regarding what the local brethren want or expect of him, or the brethren are confused over what they’re to do for or with the new preacher. In any case, often the facts are misconstrued and instead of both preacher and church acknowledging their error, and starting afresh, the preacher ends up leaving.
2. Money. Though it shouldn’t be the driving force behind a preacher’s move, money is another key factor in causing some to pack their bags. In some cases a part-time job for a while could be just the thing to help the preacher and the church in a crisis, but instead of taking a part-time job some preachers look for greener pastures. There are some situations when the preacher is fully supported with a good income, but for a few more dollars he moves on. Despite the fact, he’s a major influence on the church he’s presently working with (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10, 11).
3. Ego. I think the ego comes into play sometimes, provoking some of my fellow preachers to move to new locations. It’s extremely difficult for some of us to refuse the invitation(s) by various brethren to leave our present work in order to work with them. Especially is this true if there’s the slightest bit of trouble in the congregation one is presently with. We reason and justify our moving by telling ourselves, we’re needed and wanted in the new location. And maybe that’s so, but we are just as needed where we presently are. What about that new convert you just converted? Don’t you think he or she needs you? What about those who invited you to come where you are? Don’t they need you? And what about all the lost souls in the community where you are? Don’t they need you? Brethren this is no time for egoism, but rather a time for true dedication and hard work right where you are!
4. Family. I know several preachers who have moved in order to be close to their family or their wife’s family. While I understand first hand some of the benefits associated with such a move, I understand too, that God’s work must come first! Hence such a move should be thought through very carefully. If you’ve just moved to a congregation and things are going well (i.e., saints are growing; souls are converted; classes are established; etc.), leaving may not be the best thing to do. Leaving may not be the best thing to do even if it puts you closer to family. The grass is not always greener on the other side! l have a feeling such considerations have not received proper pondering with the move of some of my brethren (cf. Matt. 10:37-38).
5. Loss of Effectiveness. Some of my preaching brethren have moved due to a loss of effectiveness with the local congregation. If that be the case, it might be one of the better reasons for moving. But even that should be investigated. In other words, why has the preacher impressed people so? Have the members been listening as they should? Is there a concrete effort to work with and help the preacher? Firing the preacher is not always the answer in these situations (cf. Matt. 7: 1-5; Gal. 6:2).
6. Weather. Yes, along with some of the many other reasons for moving so often, I believe the warm weather has its impact on certain preachers, just as it affects many good elders and causes them to leave good works, and sometimes break up the eldership for the quest of warm weather. God speed the day when we will wake up and see the need of the hour! Our time is short. Souls are lost. The cults and denominations are on the move. And all some of us can think about is to move to the sunshine state? Brethren, where are our priorities (see Matt. 6:33; Jer. 8:20)?
Reason to Stay In One Place
Whatever the reason(s) for what I call unnecessary moving, I wish it would cease, and yesterday wouldn’t be too early for it to do so. This up and moving every one, two or three years is ridiculous! Please consider my main reasons for encouraging longevity in a local work:. All this moving.. .
1. Costs a Lot of Money. Even if the preacher rents a truck and packs his own things, that could get up in the thousands. We are all aware of the many good men who could use such funds for support.
2. Causes Church Problems. When a preacher leaves one congregation for another, certain adjustments have to be made. Often times members leave when the preacher leaves .1 know that should not be but it happens. And other things happen as well which could be eliminated if preachers would resolve to stay longer.
3. Causes Family Problems. You’d have to be sleeping to overlook the effect moving has on our children. It is extremely difficult for children to adjust when a move has occurred. The older the child the more difficult it is. Preachers please be aware of this fact!
4. Causes Preacher Problems. No matter how fine a preacher one is or how well he performs in the pulpit, his often moving does not help his reputation or track record. Quite simply, one does far more good and is of far greater value if he’s able to get settled and work with one church for a season. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, these are just observations based on what I’ve experienced personally, what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard and read. I’ve been with the Eddy St. congregation for ten years, and though we’ve had some problems, we’ve been able with God’s help to solve them, and we’ve all grown in the process.
5. Wastes a Lot of Time. If a preacher moves to a local work and only stays there a year or two, he has not had enough time to really know the church. He has not given it enough time to work the community. In fact, he has done little or nothing for the over-all benefit of the church. Can you imagine a church having to go through such every two years? God does not want us to waste precious time, brethren! There is too much work to do (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1, 2; Jn. 9:4; Rom. 13:11).
Brethren, we’re not the Methodist church. It’s not mandatory that we move every few years. Now I under-stand that the time may come when one has to move. And if you just have to move then by all means move. But I’m not convinced that we have to move so often. And I know it doesn’t help many of the churches involved. I urge brethren to commit themselves to one local congregation. Give it some time. Get to know the local brethren well and really work the community. There’s enough work in most communities to last a life time and then some!
I covet that good preachers quit moving so much but to get with a local congregation and help make it better and stronger in the Lord. Pursue peace, love, godliness and eternal life in a crooked and perverse generation. Let it be so!
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 10 p. 13-14
May 18, 1995