Are elders responsible for the employment of preachers?


I enjoyed and appreciated your article on the work of the evangelist.  I find it quite different from many by what you might consider institutional churches of Christ.

I am concerned about the final paragraph on selection of the minister.  As I understand first century history,  many preachers were involved in the establishing, building up, and beginning of local congregations, as much as were the apostles.  This explains why there are not directions to those churches on selecting ministers.  Elders and deacons, on the other hand, are leaders who are appointed (or ordained) after the beginning and establishing of the churches.

What it seems difficult for many churches of Christ to accept is that evangelists served a lead role distinctive from elders in leading the churches.  At no time did any of them work simply as servants for a congregation, absent of the right to direct the affairs of the congregations.  Part of what feeds this widening of the gulf of understanding is the insistence in many churches of Christ that their elders are responsible for the employment of ministers.  This teaching is absent from the Bible.  The truth is, each member was individually responsible for sharing with his teacher (Galatians 6:6). 

Still, I was impressed with the amount of free expression of the truth of the role of the evangelist from the point of Scripture.


It is true that preachers are heavily involved in getting congregations started and established. However, do take note that the Scriptures give instructions for how congregations select elders and deacons. But in that same time period of established congregations there is no mention of selecting preachers even though preachers still went out.

A preacher is in a leadership position by the nature of his work. He has been given authority (Titus 2:15) and teaching is a way that authority is exercised (I Timothy 2:12). It is the preachers duty to teach people the truth and make sure they follow the truth. But I know of no verse that says a preacher directs the affairs of a congregation. Elders are involved in caring for people's souls. Their duty is to get people to heaven by remaining faithful to God. Deacons are the ones who take care of the activities of the church.

Churches (not elders) do support preachers. "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:14). In that, Paul told the church at Corinth, "If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?" (I Corinthians 9:11). That support is not limited to just the local congregation. Other congregations may choose to also support a preacher. "And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied" (II Corinthians 11:9). "Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-16). Thus, churches are involved in the support of a preacher. The local church has primary responsibility to see that preachers working on their behalf are taken care of. Churches also support preachers in other areas, especially in getting works established.

What I do see happening is many people see elders as being the church. I suspect it is the influence of society. We see the board of directors as being a company and there is a tendency to see elders as the board for a church. Elders guide and direct a church through their teaching and wisdom, but they are not the church. Along those lines you might be interested in "The Rule of Elders," written by an old friend of mine who has served as both a preacher and an elder in several congregations.