Can’t Anyone Be A Preacher?

 One common American evangelical idea is (quite American): if a person wants to preach, shouldn’t he/she be able to do so?  This is one of those areas in which the civil/cultural ideas of the day have trickled into the church, affecting her right down to the core.  In other words, we all have the right to _____, so of course we all have the right to be a preacher in a church.  However, the Christian way here is at odds with the American way.  Darrin Patrick says it well.

“Many people wonder why it is necessary to have qualifications for a pastor.  They might think, ‘If someone wants to be a pastor, should he not have that right, regardless of whether he meets a list of criteria?  And who decides what the criteria are anyway?'”

“The truth…is that all of us see the need for criteria in other professions.  No one would board a plane if they knew that the ‘pilot’ loved planes but didn’t have a pilot’s license.  No one would want to be operated on by a ‘surgeon’ whose primary credential was that his father was a doctor.  A young couple would not entrust the design of their dream home to an ‘architect’ whose portfolio was the back of a Lincoln Logs box.  Qualifications are important in every job, and the more important the job, the more important the need for stringent qualifications.”  

“The New Testament places a very strong emphasis on the importance of appointing qualified elders in the church.  As Alexander Strauch notes, ‘The New Testament offers more instruction regarding elders than on other important church subjects such as the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day, baptism, or spiritual gifts.’  Moreover, there is more teaching in the New Testament about the qualifications for eldership than about any other aspect of biblical leadership.”

“The reason for this strong emphasis is that elders are charged with the sacred task of caring for the eternal souls for whom Christ died.  Since a pastor has the extremely important job of teaching and caring for eternal souls, it is important to make sure the wrong men are not appointed to this office.  When an unqualified doctor performs surgery, or an unqualified pilot flies planes, or an unqualified architect builds a house, people get hurt and things fall apart.  It is no different in the church: people usually end up getting hurt when they are under unqualified leaders, and everything from marriages to the church itself is likely to fall apart.”

Taken from pages 43-44 of Darrin Patrick, Church Planter (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).

shane lems