Where Have All the Preachers Gone
By Charles Grisham
There are times when we attend a big camp meeting or a national conference and we feel big, powerful, and strong. It seems in this big atmosphere that the whole world is Pentecostal. It seems that preachers are everywhere—in the auditorium, at the concession stand, in the parking lot, on the streets, in the restaurants, and seemingly everywhere. Evangelists share reports. Pastors tell of their circumstances. Some pastors have changed churches since the last year, perhaps to a bigger church or a greater challenge. We talk big, think big, and it is wonderful! We enjoy it tremendously.
However great the conference may be, the crowd soon begins to dwindle. Their journeys lead across prairies, over mountains, through crowded urban areas, and past towns and villages where this gospel has never been heard. How will they know to call on Jesus? How will they ever believe on Jesus? They have no preacher!
The question comes, why are there no churches here? Then the feeble answers and excuses come ringing back from the wall of time. “Oh, I cannot stand to live in the city;” or, “I do not like the cold weather;” or, “I just could not leave my relatives;” or, “I do not like small towns.” On and on they go, hundreds of miles through many cities, towns, and villages, and still no church. “Why, Lord? Surely you have called a man here. Surely you love these souls as much as those in the areas where churches are so thick that a floating membership plagues crowded pastors.”
Once again the flimsy excuses come ringing back. But now they are as sounding brass. My burdened heart now cries: “What does weather have to do with souls? What do relatives have to do with our commission?” We are supposed to go and tell! We were not called simply to preach to one another. There is work to do. Everyone cannot stay at home and warm by the fire. Someone must take this gospel to the unreached.
UPCI statistics (as of April 2008) reveal that we have 8,928 licensed and ordained ministers in our wonderful fellowship. This same report reveals that we have 4,371 churches. On an average we have a little more than two preachers per church. What a luxury when there are whole cities which have none and entire states which have as few as six churches.
I ask you, where did all the preachers go?
Would it shock you to learn there are districts within our fellowship where a statewide camp meeting will be attended by the vast crowd of 100 to 150 people? Think of that!
I ask you again, where did all the preachers go?
Within the six-month period following the Tampa General Conference we reported 247 new ministers licensed in our fellowship. Immediately my mind was filled with questions as to where they would be laboring. Where is their field of labor? To what were they called and to whom? During that time frame we added 1.35 preachers per day. Then I thought of the report that we are starting one new United Pentecostal Church every three days. At this rate, the ratio is roughly four new preachers to every new church.
What’s the problem? Where are the missing preachers? Where are the men who anxiously applied for license because they felt a call? Where are those men who knelt before the Lord and in the presence of the ministry and sang, “I’ll go where you want me to go”?
Can you hear the cries of a million souls? Does it matter to us that millions are yet unreached? Would we rather take our chances in a large fellowship circle where we will be remembered most for our powerful sermons and where the calls come often with offers of a large, more prosperous? pastorate? Are we guilty of feeding our egos rather than listening to the distant cry of soul’s distress? Are we known in God’s book as soul winners or as pulpits preachers? Can you get anointed while preaching to a handful of people in a storefront? Evangelists are you only ‘booking” your time in the larger churches where CDs sell better and the fellowship is more apt to promote your name toward the influential circles?
Answer these questions on your knees, please. Oh, the cry of a million souls comes booming, shouting, pleading in the ears of the intercessor, where did all the preachers go?
This challenge may come as a stunning rebuke or perhaps as the soft, wooing words from a loving Christ who gave Himself willingly to the angry mob as He purchased your salvation on a cruel cross. He did not shrink or draw back from the challenge. He knew it had to be done, and His words were, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
My precious brothers and sisters, this is where we stand today. There is a job to be done, and we must be willing to say, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” I will go. I will tell. I will pray. I will fast. I will send. It is a must. There is no other way.
Mark 4:19 tells us, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” While we may relate this passage of Scripture primarily to sinners, I wonder how many times the sharp knife of conviction and challenge has pierced our souls and consciences during a missionary service. Then, when the service ended, we shook off the feeling, attributing it to a powerful sermon. The good seed that God had sown in our hearts became choked by the cares of life, the enticement of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in. Yes, that is the story a thousand times over: cares, riches, and other things. We want them more than we want to evangelize the world.
The prayer of my heart this day as we stand upon the threshold of eternity is that God’s Spirit will sound a fifty-state alarm for all the wanted, missing preachers. These men are needed now. You may have valuable information as to their whereabouts. Millions are looking to them in the unreached cities throughout North American.
Where did all the preachers go?
May the rhythmic beat of this question pound upon your mind and heart until stronger, bolder Apostolic preachers go and tell and spread this precious gospel message to every corner of our continent.
This article wad adapted and reprinted from the Apostolic Writer’s Digest.
From, “Forward Magazine”/July-August 2008/ Page 13&22, by Charles Grisham
This material is copyrighted and may be used to study & research purposes only