|Vol. 13 No. 6 June 2011||
Hiring and Firing Preachers
Louis Rushmore, Editor
In your study of the Scriptures, do you believe there is expediency in terms like “hire” (and “fire”) when referring to congregations that support a man in preaching? There are some who object to these usages of terms, so I want to ask your thoughts on this. There are some who object to the preacher being, as they say, an “employee of the church.” I will say that I always, with caution, saw these terms under the light of expediency. However, I was still careful speaking in this way, for conscience sake, and more hardily defend paying a preacher, and less of using terms like “hire.”
I shudder at the possibility that sometimes (maybe even often) brethren imagine that they can hire it done respecting their personal and collective responsibilities to edify themselves and others with the Word of God, visit the physically and spiritually sick or act benevolently. Hiring a preacher, for instance, does not eliminate or even reduce an individual Christian’s biblical responsibility (1 Corinthians 15:58). However, whether we use the words “hire” and “fire” respecting a preacher or refer to the same actions some other way, it is merely a matter of semantics – word meanings – exchanging words for each other that are essentially synonyms. The dictionary definitions of the verbs “hire” and “fire” respectively are as follows. “1 a : to engage the personal services of for a set sum (hire a crew)” and “2 b : to dismiss from a position” (Merriam-Webster’s). We do both of those actions associated with the words “hire” and “fire.” The reality is that we hire and fire preachers from our congregations or mission works. Why, then, would we think it too odd to use the words that correctly describe what we do?
The question is not shall we provide funds for the livelihood, work and travel of preaching brethren, but what shall we call that activity. First century preachers were provided for in these circumstances, and that becomes our biblical precedent for the same today (Matthew 10:10; 1 Corinthians 9:4-14; Galatians 6:6). Note also that anyone who has the authority to hire has equal authority to fire.
Incidentally, in the USA, any minister who labors for a particular congregation and from which congregation he receives his primary remuneration is considered legally to be an employee of that congregation for income tax purposes. Words or their definitions, either one, refer to actual circumstances respecting hiring, firing and employees concerning preachers for the churches of Christ.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary . 10th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1993. CD-ROM. Oak Harbor: Logos, 1996.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
In Acts 19:6, was speaking in tongues and prophesying a manifestation of receiving the Holy Spirit? ~ Chechi Yachristu
There are two separate circumstances regarding the reception of the Holy Spirit in the first century. One, there is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which each Christian enjoys today also. However, Christians differ on the manner in which this indwelling occurs. A person would not even know about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit except that the New Testament teaches about it (Romans 8:9, 11) – because the Holy Spirit dwelling within us does not communicate to us apart from the Word of God – the Bible.
Two, there were miraculous “gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:4) in the first century that were obviously manifested for all to see. These miraculous gifts of the Spirit were for the purpose of confirming the Word of God (Mark 16:17-20). The reference in Acts 19:6 pertains to these miraculous gifts that they were able to demonstrate through the laying on of hands by an apostle to give first century Christians that ability (Acts 8:17-19; 19:6). Miraculous gifts, though, ceased to be available when they accomplished the reason for which they were given – providing new revelation, the New Testament (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; Ephesians 4:11-14).