The priests are waiting in the wings.

I taught on campus for fifteen years in a Christian seminary. During that time, I watched hundreds of young ministers accept their first preaching post with a congregation. A year or so later, many of them were back in my office. Most of their idealism was shattered. What happened to them? What was happening in the congregations they served?

During those years of teaching, I kept working along the lines of a basic premise. I felt the problem with most ministers was their inefficiency. I reasoned, “If the average minister gave more attention to organization, worked more diligently, and if he dedicated himself more completely to God, then he could emerge triumphant in the local church situation.” Meanwhile, I studied the New Testament more carefully and began to rethink the minister’s actual role today in the congregation. Gradually it began to dawn on me that our basic system of ministry itself is largely at fault.

Let us look for a moment at the current situation. The young minister leaves the college or seminary with the idea of accomplishing great things for God. He tries to adjust to the expectations which the congregation has for him. They want him to preach inspiring messages at every service. They expect him to visit the sick without fail. They want him to lead in raising finances. They expect him to keep up the attendance. They intend for him to be present for the social functions of the congregation. Also, they usually expect him to take an active part in community affairs.… Some ministers are able to work sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. They seldom take a vacation. They are never sick. By extraordinary labors, they are able to thrive with the one-man-ministry concept. They ...

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