Pastors Who Do All The Work Aren’t Doing Their Jobs!

Jesus said Go

Jesus Said Go Image © Lars Justinen from]

A while back a lady went into the hospital for a few days. While she was there, a local elder, deacon and an elderly lady came to visit her. However she was released from the hospital before the Senior or Associate pastors of the church could come see her. After her release, she mentioned to me that none of the pastors had come to see her in the hospital. I corrected her, and told her that three pastors came to see her. According to 1 Peter 2:9 the local elder, deacon and elderly lady are all pastors.

The New Testament church was an active church with everyone pastoring and evangelizing. In Acts 8, Philip, a deacon, is evangelizing and baptizing. In Acts 7, we see Stephen, another deacon, being stoned to death – and it wasn’t for taking up the offering or adjusting the Sabbath School classroom thermostat. No, he was stoned to death for preaching the gospel! Wait a minute. I thought preaching was the pastor’s job? Not in the New Testament church! In the New Testament church all the members were ministering and evangelizing.

In the Dark Ages a wide separation was made between the clergy and the laity but that was not the biblical design. As we progress out of the Dark Ages the gap between clergy and laity must be narrowed, in order to get back to being a remnant of the New Testament model church.

Over 20 years ago I moved to Texas to be a Bible Worker. The church had thousands of Bible study lead cards that needed to be mailed out. The pastor asked a lady in our church if she could take them to the post office to be mailed. She responded, “Well if I do that, then what is William going to do?” She felt that since I was the paid “Bible Worker,” I should be doing all the work and should mail them myself. Wrong! Fact is, if I am doing all the work, then I am not doing my job.

My job, along with the pastor’s job is to equip and empower the laity to do evangelism.  If I go by myself to give a Bible study, then shame on me! I should always bring another church member with me so they can learn how to give Bible studies and also to bond with the student and be another link to the church family. As well as giving Bible studies I also teach people how to chain reference their Bibles, to give presentations and get decisions for Jesus. I have also been teaching a Bible marking class at Tampa Adventist Academy, where young people are learning how to share Jesus. At the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church our young people and lay members have been empowered to speak at our evangelism meetings and to lead out in seminars. We also have several growth-group Bible studies, and the associate pastor and I are training and mentoring lay members to take over and lead out in these groups. In the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, where I also serve as a Bible Worker, we have lay members leading out in small-group Bible studies. Non-churched people who have yet to step inside a regular church are coming to these small-group Bible studies. A small study group is a church within itself. Remember, in New Testament times, churches were in people’s homes. The non-churched small-group Bible study members see those who come to the home of the Bible study leaders as their church family, and they see the Bible study leaders as their pastors. Remember that “pastor” is also a verb and not just a noun. Whoever you are, if you are caring and nurturing others then you are pastoring.

If pastors or Bible workers think of themselves as the ones who are to do all of the preaching and evangelizing, then they are not biblical but are stuck in the Dark Ages. Very few pastors today still want to create a huge gap between pastors and laity, while more and more pastors are like Moses, when he said, “would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” Numbers 11:29 With this spirit upon our paid clergy, the gospel can spread like wildfire and turn the world upside down, just like it did in the book of Acts when every member was an evangelist! Please keep in mind that if the pastor or Bible worker are doing all of the preaching and teaching, then they are not doing their job. You know the pastor and Bible worker are doing their jobs when they call you and give you work to do!

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Pastors Who Do All The Work Aren’t Doing Their Jobs! — 32 Comments

  1. In the early 1970's Gottfried Oosterwal echoed this thesis in his book MISSION POSSIBLE.The hierarchy of the church from the responses seemed a bit ruffled by his argument. I am glad to see we have come 360 back to this point.

    • I think we are making a 360 Michael. I can relate to what you are talking about in the 1970s. For the last 22 years I have worked as a Bible Worker in 3 states. I have noticed how a few (not all) older ordained ministers want to make a distinction between me (just a Bible Worker) and them (an ordained minister), while the younger ordained ministers treat me just as if I was one of them, and make no distinction at all.

      • William, the church that I belong to has a relatively new, to us, Pastor and is younger than some. His agenda is much like yours. Involve as much of the laity as possible in as many small groups as is reasonable to meet the Spiritual needs of those that are seeking. I have been praying for guidance in making a commitment decision, to head one of these groups. I ask for a definite answer to what Gods will was for me. I have to say after reading your comments about Pastors, I take that as an answer to my request. I never feel adequate to lead, even though I do in other capacities. The Pastor and I were talking about some of the other plans that he has and one is as you mentioned, take someone with you when visiting someone in need. Being a deacon, I and others are some of who will accompany those visitations. Change has never been easily acceptable for me, takes me out of my comfort zone, but some changes are good. My only prayer is that with Gods help His will may be done in my life.

        • Paul, if you feel inadequate, that's good. God's work is too big and too difficulty for anyone to do unless they have His help. I'm sure He will answer your prayer.

        • Paul said:I have been praying for guidance in making a commitment decision, to head one of these groups. I ask for a definite answer to what Gods will was for me.

          Consider volunteering for the task, then pray for guidance!

  2. What’s missing in this picture is the structure of the New Testament and early Adventist Churches which were dedicated to church planting. For the last 100 years we have employed a pastor-dependent model. Pastors have been the primary care givers.

    Instead, pastors should function as elders solely focused on church planting and equipping. An additional rationale and motivation would then exist for lay people to do more ministry (on top of their 40+ hour week). Lay people would step up, knowing this allowed a full-time person to spread the gospel by planting healthy new churches.

  3. Thank you Pastor William Earnhardt for the article..notice I call you pastor even if you are not salaried for it..The church I worship in here in the UK has come a long way regarding the congregation being at work for Christ..Last year we had about 18 members of our congregation on a Lay preachers course (a record in the SEC)..Our pastor has often encouraged us to touch others since we've been touched by Jesus, challenging the church to move from its comfort zone.. This has yielded tremendous success and when the year started we had a successful Revival two weeks program run by the Lay preachers..There is power when the churches stand to work in his vineyard..The Holy Spirit moves amongst his people who are willing to be used..Ministries are re-energised and the love (which often wax cold) is once again felt within the church..He says we should 'test and see...'

    May God bless us :)

  4. I am member of a Seventh-day adventist church in the Solomon Islands and i find it boring if all that the church pastor does is preach the sermon every sabbath - becoming monotonous and too mechanical. Taking on the mandate given by the Lord - 'to go into all the world' and when all the members participated, the church becomes more dynamic giving spiritual vigor and strength to do more both in witnessing and personal Bible Study, making the role of the Church Pastor somewhat redundant.

    • Dear William,

      You've hit on why so many church members are "bored" or asleep, or, as Jesus said it, "miserable and poor and blind an naked." they are not fulfilling the mandate the Lord has given to every believer.

      For many decades now, the slowest church growth has been in areas of greatest concentration of pastors. That doesn't necessarily mean that the pastors are bad, but if they're doing all the work, the churches will stagnate and eventually die.

  5. The distinction between because Laity and Clergy is not a Bible concept. We are all priests of God with different gifts and responsibilities (paid or unpaid). The pastor is a priest serving as a pastor. Someone else may be a priests serving as an usher. As priests, we should all feel the responsibility to do the work of the church and carry out evangelism. The pastor is a paid worker, and he has dedicated his life to ministry. He will have more time to focus on evangelism. But God has called all of us to witness and evangelize also. What a wonderful lesson.

  6. The Bible says, "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine ..." (Eph. 4:12, 13).
    God bless,


  7. Shepherds do not get sheep, sheep do!
    As soon as we realize that, we would assume our individual and collective responsibilities for soul winning in God's army, not His art gallery!

  8. The challenge is for us to view ourselves first as christians and second as church members and lastly as position holders in A partcular church. AsJesus said in Luke 10:2 "the harvest is plentiful but labourers are few" if we view ourselves as labourers in God's vast fields, we will be able to see ourselves in a more active role of evangelism. Similarly if pastors saw the church as a training facility for labourers in God's vast field, they would assume a more enabling role for those potential labourers.

  9. It is very important that a church is organized in such a way as to know exactly what they will do if 'newbies' come in. Like for one example, have someone invite them for personal Bible studies. If they show up again have someone planned ahead of time to invite them to lunch at their house, not the potluck!

    We have found from visiting several different SDA churches that they seemed more cold than warm, many do not smile back, it is not the way a church should be. If newbies come in and don't start to feel a connection to the church family, many will leave and we know that. Therefore this organizing each church to be prepared is especially important and i do think that this quarterly is touching base on this point as well.

    Also make sure your church has a set plan ahead of time for conflicts, when or if they arise, so the church is better able to handle them. The devil tries all to hard to cause trouble among Gods people and there should be a set plan for stuff like too. It is called being a true family of God, if you asked me. After all, we should as a church know the ins and outs of the norms and have plans to help the people, not allow them to scatter.

    One couple left the church a couple yrs back and to this day I am still rather appalled at the comment of one of the elders, he said "Well they left us" and he made no effort for any type of reconciliation (there was a conflict) Thanks for reading :) :)

  10. I think that if a pastor is way too busy to make a contact with someone that is jail, hospital, or sick -- things along those lines of what Jesus was referring too -- he should make sure he has an appointed person to go visit the person on his behalf, at the least, God willing. And then make sure the secretary or his wife sends a card. This may sound like much to some, but according to that scripture it is our job to visit people in church or out that face certain circumstances such as mentioned above. Jesus wants a church family to be a real church family, not just a group of people that meet for potlucks.

  11. Proverbs 14:23 says that all work makes a profit. Deuteronomy 25:4 says that even an ox has a right to eat of his labor. Matthew 10:10 says that the worker deserves his wages; and Luke 10:7 says that the laborer is worthy of his keep. 1 Tim. 5:18 quotes both Deut. 25:4 and Luke 10:7. 2 Tim 2:6: "The hardworking farmer is worthy of the first share of his crops." 1 Cor. 9: 7--"who serves as a soldier at his own expense?" 1 Cor. 9:9 explicates Deut. 25:4 and applies it to ANYONE WHO WORKS. 1 Cor. 9:14 makes it clear that the LORD HAS COMMANDED THAT THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL SHALL MAKE THEIR LIVING OF THE GOSPEL. I can't understand, then, why you think it's everyone's job to go and preach the gospel.

    Further, your sense that Eph. 4:12 makes all paid Christians equippers and senders is absurd and wrong. The KJV does not use the word "Equip," and makes it clear that the five-fold ministry does the perfecting, ministering, and edifying. 4th century bishop St. John Chrysostome spoke the original Greek and interpreted Eph. 4:12 EXACTLY AS IT IS RENDERED IN THE KJV. So forget about "equipping the saints for works of service." It's not in the Bible. It never was, until Westcott and Hort translated your Bible in the late 19th century. Lay evangelism is not in the Bible. The Apostolic ministry is supposed to do it. Stephen and Philip were members of the 72, and were getting at least bed and board for their work. Unpaid labor is illegal, violating at least nine scriptures, which I have listed.

    Additionally, there are enough paid Christians to evangelize the entire nation IN ONLY TEN HOURS. I base this on 600,000 paid Christians in America, divided into 300,000,000 Americans. This is only 500 people per paid Christian. Since there around 2.5 people living in a dwelling on average, this is only 200 homes, which could be canvassed in one 10 hour day.
    Further, since most clergy are overpaid, I could probably double the number of boots on the ground by firing them all, and hiring 1.2 million full time evangelists to go out preaching in the streets and door to door. This way, we could get the job done in only FIVE HOURS. So you see, the paid Christian has the entire load (because no work can be done without pay--Deut. 25:4).

  12. Dear Robbed,

    I am sure you know, Paul, who wrote that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel, also was a tent maker, supporting his ministry as he refused to take money from the church. It was his passion. Stephen was not preaching for money when he was stoned to death. It was his passion.

    I would like to share a quote from Gospel Workers, page 67

    "Selfish interest must be swallowed up in deep anxiety for the salvation of souls. Some ministers have labored, not because they dared not do otherwise, not because the woe was upon them, but having in view the wages they were to receive. Said the angel, “Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for naught? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for naught. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts neither will I accept an offering at your hand.” [Malachi 1:10.] {GW92 67.1}

    It is entirely wrong to hire every errand that is done for the Lord. The treasury of the Lord has been drained by those who have been only an injury to the cause."

  13. Whether paid, salaried gospel workers or unpaid volunteers, I pray that we all make the ultimate sacrifice and give our all to the proclamation of the Third Angel's Message. When we come together on one accord to do this, with no self-interest tainting our motives, God will honor our commitment by giving us what we so desperately lack to accomplish the mission He has set before us: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I appreciate all the comments. Now let's get on one accord seeking Him and labor tirelessly for precious souls!

  14. Great topic William!

    Only God can motivate people to want to help others and to help churches to grow. In America, not many people want to go to church let alone do something to help someone. I long for the day when people care enough to do something for others, asking nothing in return, and the church then becomes a real team. Thanks William!

  15. Sadly, many pastors are "preachers", with side-interests. I pray each will realize God will call for a strict account. Being pastor of a flock is a solemn responsibility and none should take lightly. They stand in Christ's stead as a visible shepherd. Most matters that trouble a congregation would be solved by diligently laboring for each member as if eternity was in peril.

  16. You know, the issue is often not with a Pastor trying to do it all, but with a congregation that EXPECTS him to do it all. After all (they think) isn't our tithes paying him to do the work, we have jobs and that is his job. In the case like our church where we share the Pastor, it then also falls on the Elder. Again they elected him to do the work. I am thankful that our little church has grown spiritually over the last year and members have begun to lead out in some of the ministry but we still have far to go. Mostly they do not know how or feel they have the ability to do the ministry and are afraid they will do something wrong. I would love to have the teaching and training resources you describe to get a growth/ministry class going!

  17. This reminds me of what Jesus said about joy, praying that His joy would be in us, in all who will believe in Him (John 17:14, 20). That prayer for us was in context of oneness with Him and with each other. But I also find that His joy is found in seeking and saving the lost (Luke 15, Hebrews 12:2). I believe there is no greater joy than seeing someone else unite with Christ. That joy should be for every believer.

  18. the greatest challenge facing the church is to classify workers in legal terms.Indeed laity and clergy classes are un biblical.Church elders do a lot of work but held down by the hired.We must change this if we can move.Many of the hired develop superiority complex un extent of forgetting their sinfulness.All who devote some time in ministry should be compensated and there are many ways un do this.But today churches are the properties of the organisation and its hired agents -administrators,named as pastors! These are todays masters in God's church !

    • Titus, I am not sure where you are getting your information from, but I frequently see lay folk and and clergy working together. Granted, there are issues at time as none of us are perfect. I see multiple instances of lay folk taking the initiative and running small groups, building the sense of a community of believers.

      I am not sure why you are suggesting that all who devote some time to the ministry should be compensated. We are all in the business of saving souls. Even if there was no church organization to pay workers, the work of saving souls would still need to be done. Our best opportunities to witness come when we are mixing with others at work or in a social context. Our ministry should provide support and encouragement for us. To a large extent, ministers do this.

  19. The Apostle Paul stressed unity among the believers, Eph.4:1-6. The ultimate goal being, to spread the Gospel,(Good News), to whom ever will listen. We can analyze, criticize, hypothesize, about who and how it is to get done, but how much have we accomplished in spreading the Gospel? I would bring it down to the last option. What are we, what am I doing, (intentionally), to help spread the Gospel? If one is honest with themselves the answer is, little or nothing, more often than not. We are faithful church attendees and give our offerings and consider that is adequate to fulfill our obligation. Is it, and will we have to give account? Sobering questions in what little time is left.

    • When I used to teach computer science, I often gave my students lectures explaining the big concepts. I would draw diagrams, illustrating the ideas, and give examples to reinforce what I had been teaching. The interesting thing is that so often, after the lecture was over, I would get into conversation with a student and during that conversation would make an off the cuff observation that would clarify the big concept for the student. I have had students come to me years later and ask if I remember saying something to them after class, something I would have completely forgotten about and they would say that the comment was their "eureka moment"; the time when the whole idea became clear to them.

      I think that sometimes we so feel guilty for not presenting the big Gospel that we forget the causal conversation where ideas are clarified. We are not all called to be high-pressure Gospel sales people. Some of us provide the casual environment where the Holy Spirit can work though us quietly and effectively.

  20. I like your article and it’s very good that some of the pastors, as you said, had visited the lady in the hospital. Also, what you are doing for the Lord is very commendable.Please keep up the good work! However, I can relate a little with what the lady said about the pastors not coming to visit her because you said the church had pastors. As a volunteered Bible worker, I am much saddened by many of our pastors who seems to be uncaring! I am speaking from experience and will not go into details, I know God is the Judge!

  21. Surely, the article articulates the way to go as far as ministry is concerned. It is in line with the principle of "Priesthood of All Believers." Thanks William.


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