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THE PREACHER WANTS RAISES

Most gospel preachers work well over forty hours a week.' They love what they do so much that it is not uncommon for a preacher to work six days a week for eight or nine hours a day. They remain "on call" even when they are home. Some even use vacation time to preach in meetings, go on campaigns, or work at Christian camps. Not a few have given up lucrative careers to preach in areas where they have to struggle to make it financially. Why do they do it? For money? No! They do it for raises!

PREACHERS WORK FOR RAISES IN THE NUMBER OF SOULS SAVED. Since people are "going to be dead a whole lot longer than they are going to be alive," preachers try to get them to pay more attention to their souls than their bodies (Mt. 16:26). Saving souls is the constant burden on the heart of every evangelist. He loves to preach the good news to large crowds, teach small groups in Bible class, or lead people to Christ one on one. He constantly looks for another person who is interested in be-coming a New Testament Christian (Acts 11:26). He loves making a difference in his community by faithfully living and preaching the truth (Isa. 55:11). He realizes that the Gospel is God's power to save men (Rm. 1:16) and that souls must learn of Christ's commands before His death helps them (Mt. 28:18-20). He knows that heaven will be more populated because of the labors individual Christians make (Jas. 5:20), and is glad to be a co-worker with God (1 Cor. 3:6-9). He often reminds himself that "he that winneth souls is wise" (Prov. 11:30). This is why preachers work—for a raise.

PREACHERS WORK FOR RAISES IN THE PERSONAL GROWTH OF CHRISTIANS. As a minister studies for his Bible classes and sermons, he thinks about how he can increase the knowledge, strengthen the faith, and boost the zeal of each student. The preacher wants to light a fire under each member to study the Bible daily (Acts 17:11), pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17), visit the sick (Mt. 25:31-46), help the hurting (Jas. 1:27), and set a good example for others (Mt. 5:13-16). 

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study on dieting conducted by Dr. Kelly D. Brownell at Yale University. This research was based on thirty-two years of follow-up study on 5,127 men and women. Dr. Brownell and his associates discovered it is more hazardous to yo-yo diet than to stay consistently overweight. The study found that the risk of dying from heart disease is about 70 percent higher in those with fluctuating weight than in those whose weight stays reasonably the same. Spiritual inconsistency is equally destructive. Preachers knew "this" all along! They work toward every member reaching a consistent diet of worship, Bible study, prayer, evangelism fellowship, and prayer—not just an occasional revival feast.

Preachers understands Paul's rejoicing better than most, "We are bound to thank God always for you. brethren, as it is meet, be-cause that your faith groweth exceedingly, and that the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth, so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thes. 1:3, 4). This is why all preachers work—for a raise.  ' No, "dining, reclining, and whining" are not the three works of a preacher!

PREACHERS WORK FOR RAISES IN ATTENDANCE. Our culture has changed. Church attendance by the average citizen used to be assumed; now it is an exception. Lawmakers in Virginia made a law in 1610 that prescribed the death penalty for people who failed to attend church three consecutive Sundays.   Now, schools plan events on Wednesday nights, ball teams have tournament games on Sundays, and references to "church attendance" is written into book or television only when the plot needs a hypocrite.

The preacher has his work cut out for him. He needs to let church members know how disappointing it is for preachers to prepare lessons, song leaders to choose songs, elders to make plans for the church, Bible class teachers to prepare to teach, and others to come to services only to find that a quarter, third, or half of the membership chose to stay home instead of meeting them there. But—much more importantly—he needs to remind them how such ingratitude breaks the heart of Almighty God who, in pure, self-giving and unfathomable love, gave His Son to die a bloody death in our place (2 Cor. 9:15). Sam Williams said, "We count how many people `come to church.' God counts how many didn't show up."3 We may say, "191 present;" and God says, "73 absent." (He is still asking, "Where are the nine?," Lk. 17:17). What does it say to God when Christians choose to sleep late, watch television, go to the grocery store, or visit relatives, in-stead of attending the Sunday night or Wednesday night service?

God hasn't taken Hebrews 10:25 out of the Bible: "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." We disobey God when missing church services. We ignore Christ's command, too: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33). Some get weak and their love begins to grow cold. They need encouragement. He'll do it Sunday—he wants this raise, too.

PREACHERS WORK FOR RAISES IN LOVE. In the play Pygmalion (brought to the screen as the movie My Fair Lady), Eliza Doolittle expresses the sentiment of many when she cries out, "Don't tell me you love me, show me! Show me!" Francis of Assisi said it succinctly when he declared, "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." Although words are a necessary part of evangelism, we could all probably stand a little improvement in the area of communicating love through deeds.

Every gospel servant seeks to see Christians motivated by love to serve God and their fellowman knowing that this is the badge of true discipleship (Jn. 14:34-35). They know that no one will go to heaven who is not in love with the Lord (Jn. 14:15) nor will a Christian enter the "promised land" who does not love his brother (1 Jn. 4:20). For this reason preachers preach on love—a genuine self-giving attitude that expresses itself in good deeds. Yes, preachers want this raise too.

Why not give your preacher the kind of raise he really wants!

 Houston Post, Nov. 20, 1991, p. 2
' The Innovating Man, Sam Williams, Innovative Church Growth Conference, 1994' Partnership Challenge, April 1993; The NEWSLETTER Newsletter, June 1993; Christian Rader, May/June 1993, p. 48.

Allen Webster