Spending five years in a context that saw a consistent line of itinerant speakers really gave me an appreciation for local church preachers.
People get so impressed when an out-of-towner speakes for a special event and sufficently impresses everyone by presenting three hours of content they’ve presented 300 times before. Really, it’s the easiest gig in the world.
I mean, if you can’t look impressive giving a practiced speech on your topic of choice to a fresh audidence, you really should quit show business.
What is actually impressive is the guy who has to prepare 30-45 minutes of fresh content and presents it to same audience week after week after week.
That’s real work.
But I’m not convinced it’s sustinable. I know how hard great speakers work to prepare and the good, local church preacher does even more (I expect about half an hour of prep time for every minute of speaking time).
I don’t think one guy can keep up that level of content generation over the long term.
Of course, there are gifted exceptions, but I think those exceptions are exactly that.
Having said that, I think there’s a centrist option between the “Best Of” touring teachers and the burdensome work of having to present new material to the local congregation.
I think J.P. Moreland has a point. He argues,
The local church should be led and taught by a plurality of voices called elders and these voices should be equal. If so-called lay elders I dislike the word lay!) do not have the seminary training possessed by those paid to be in “full-time” local church ministry, then the church needs to develop a long-term plan to give them training in the church itself or elsewhere. No one person has enough gifts, perspective, and maturity to be given the opportunity disproportionately to shape the personality and texture of a local church. If Christ is actually the head of the church, our church structures ought to reflect that fact, and a group of undershepherds, not a senior pastor, should collectively seek his guidance in leading the congregation. (p. 191)
Dr. Moreland is exactly correct. I’ve been in varied positions where I had to prepare weekly, monthly, and itinerant presentations. In each one, the need for a team of collaborative peers cannot be overstated.
I’m not as convinced that one person can’t be the frontman (so to speak), but if a teacher/preacher wants to stay healthy, they have to have people who can and will provide feedback, both as fellow contributors and encouraging co-laborers.