I have been tasked with doing some research on a number of questions.
1. What is the Biblical foundation for a paid, located, long-term minister?
2. What is the role of such a person?
3. What is the difference between Evangelist and Minister (If there is such a difference)?
4. What is the role of elders in the preaching, teaching and counseling as opposed to a fulltime preacher/minister?
I do not want to have a discussion on whether or not the mutual ministry is the only model (or the other way around). I see the immense value in such.
I am looking for serious conversation...
As the moderator, may I ask you to define "mutual ministry"? Not all of our members may be familiar with that term, and it may help to remove a distraction for the discussion. I understand that you do not want to argue its correctness, but some of our members will be "stuck", just wondering what it is. So, a definition may help move the discussion along.
In other locations, this is seen as a model closer to the Biblical model, and this is practiced by conviction rather than necessity.
I hope this helps in making the expression a bit easier to understand...
If you did not know, there are a few articles on the ISOT site about evangelists and elders:
- Both preachers and elders are authorized by the Bible to paid for the labor in preaching the gospel:
So, a preacher has direct authorization to expect payment for his work, if he is truly plowing and threshing in the Lord's field. However, he is by no means obligated to accept payment. In the same above context, Paul explains that although he had a right to expect compensation, he refused it, so that he might take away the accusation of false teachers and gainsayers (I Corinthians 9:15-18; II Corinthians 11:7-13). Often, he was known to work with his own hands, complimenting if not entirely replacing whatever outside report he was receiving (Acts 18:2-3; I Thessalonians 2:8-10; II Thessalonians 3:6-15).Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote:Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:7-14 NKJV)
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (I Timothy 5:17-18 NKJV)
What exactly do you mean by "located"? Are we not all dust passing through this place like a vapor? I am not trying to be sarcastic, although it surely sounds that way. But, "located" is somewhat relative is it not? How long does a person need to set up residence to be considered "located"? A week? A month? Six months? A year? Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, because the Lord assured Him, "for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:10 NKJV). And, he stayed in Ephesus for at least three years preaching boldly, until the whole city heard the gospel (Acts 19:1-20; 20:17, 31)! Maybe that is a good rule to measure a preacher's stay? As long as there is an "open door" (I Corinthians 16:8-9), and the evangelist is having some success in the city or with the brethren, he should stay! But, if the city essentially rejects him (Acts 16:39-40), or if he is doing more harm to the brethren than good (Acts 17:1-10), or if he's more needed elsewhere as Paul often was (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:20-32), or if he simply "no longer has a place in these parts" (Romans 15:23), maybe he should move onward?
- The evangelist' primary role is to preach and teach the gospel - nothing more (II Timothy 4:1-5; I Corinthians 9:7-14). He is not a social worker or physical servant to the church, who must show up first every time someone needs to move or have their yard mowed. You will never find evangelists or preachers in the Bible building gymnasiums, hospitals, colleges, etc. They simply preached the Word, which is the only thing that can make a lasting difference (II Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 1:16; II Timothy 4:1-5)! Now good sense says and brotherly love teach us that people are more receptive to preachers, who do not stand aloof from the common needs of the church members (like loading up and moving across town, tending to the sick, etc.), but no one should expect him to help exceptionally more than any other individual member of the local body in routine chores and needs. Naturally, he will do some spiritual counseling, but he should not be saddled too much with what is primarily the elder's responsibility (I Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:17).
- Assuming one is "ministering in the Word", I do not think there is a Biblical distinction between "minister", "evangelist", or "preacher". Please keep in mind that "minister" generally comes from the Greek word, diakonos, from which we have transliterated our word, deacon, which is just the word for "servant". So, since "minister" comes from a very generic Greek word, you must look at the context to see what kind of service or ministry was intended. Was it in the gospel (I Timothy 4:6), physical chores of the church (i.e., office of deacon, I Timothy 3:8-13; Philippians 1:1-2), individual service to the church (Romans 16:1), or something entirely secular (i.e., government, Romans 13:1-6)? You have to look at the context, but back to your question, I do not think there is any other difference in the words.
- Elders are primarily tasked with "feeding the flock", so their task greatly overlaps that of the preacher ("to shepherd" = "to feed" = "to pastor", Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1-5); however, they are the shepherds of one flock. Shepherds don't just abandon their flock, because they want to see another flock, or because they don't feel like they have a place any more in their current flock. They love the flock! They are not a "hireling" (John 10:1-13)! Their burden to their flock would seem to trump the individual whims and judgments of the preacher, who may more easily float from one place to another. Elders are to stay and fight off the wolves (Titus 1:5-13; Acts 20:17-30). I would think they would be the last to leave and "turn out the lights", unless they believe the Lord has already spiritually removed a congregation's "lights" (Revelation 2:5; 3:1-6).
Again, there is much overlap, but it seems the preacher's primary task is preaching and doing so most effectively. His judgment determines time and place. He has limited time and resources, and he must be careful not to waste his pearls before swine (Matthew 7:1-6). Whereas the elders have greater responsibility to the flock which they are "among" (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2)), and since they must give an account for individual souls (Hebrews 13:17) - not just their preaching, their burden is much more fastened to a specific location, because so is the flock and its souls fastened.
In many ways, the preacher can be thought of as a "contractor" to the eldership. (Although, an elder may also be a preacher based on I Timothy 5:17-18 and I Peter 5:1. Peter was a "fellow elder" and apostle and preacher!) Elders select and hire a preacher to labor in the Word, thereby feeding their flock. They help prod and guide him to best serve the congregation. Whenever either they feel he is no longer helping them feed the flock, or whenever he feels he's no longer most effectively preaching the Lord's gospel, there should be a natural parting of the ways. Although it should never be a "cold business" relationship, the physical income needs of a preacher should never outweigh the spiritual needs of an entire congregation.
Hopefully, this will plant some Bible seeds. I'd love to hear what you think, or as Jesus asked, "How do you read?".
- Evangelists - Grk word study (Euangelistes) embodies word 'angel' meaning messenger, one sent (see Vines, Thayer)
- Is a "Work", II Tm 4:5
- the evangelist's 'work' is a ministry, II Tm 4:5
- It incorporates 'study, proper handling' of the word of God, II Tm 2:15
- He is a fighter in the Lord's army for the Lord's cause, I Tm 1:18-19
- Consider the role of the Levites living in the midst of OT Israel and their daily role to teach the people the Law (Cf Ezra 8:4-9; II Chr 15:3; 17:8-9; and other references when Levites received / were to receive their inheritance of 51(?) cities in Israel)
- Role / value in God's Scheme of Redemption in Rm 10:14-15; Act 8:30-35