Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

The Purpose of My Work

You can give me many titles: Evangelist, Pastor, Preacher, Stubborn Ole Mule etc. But the purpose should always be the same.

Too often full time workers in churches have been hired to do the work of the church. People in the church come to the church and sit and watch a performance or come and absorb the teaching, music and whatever is streaming from up front. But that is not the job description in the New Testament.

Paul gave a description in Eph. 4: 11-13: “to prepare God’s people for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

One of my gifts is preaching and because of that I enjoy preaching and I think the congregation is blessed by my preaching. It could be easy for me to hog the pulpit because “I am good at preaching and the others are not as good.” Many preachers use this excuse to be the only preacher in the church. When missionaries visit churches on their reporting trips, they are not asked/allowed to preach in some churches because the preacher will not give up “his pulpit” for single Sunday in 4 years to a missionary that church supports. I question the inflexibility and/or the possession of the pulpit. Of course it is easy to become possessive and no one wants to sit through a “bad” sermon. Preachers are afraid that “low quality” preaching will drive visitors away. Yet…..

One Sunday a few years ago a family came to visit our church. They were looking for a church and had found us in the internet. This situation happens very seldom so it is a big deal for us. On that Sunday the singing was sooooo bad that I was sure that we would never see them again. But our bad singing on that one Sunday did not push them away. They were happy with the church because we did not have a band up front playing so loud that their toddler screamed because it hurt his ears. What will draw or push someone to/from our church – I am not really sure of one single thing but I do not think we should use fear to stop from allowing people in the church to do the work of the church and let only professionals do it.

My goal is not to be the only preacher because even if I am the best preacher, others have something to say and God may need a fresh voice to express something to the church that I could/would/should not preach. Often my experience and expertise in preaching scares others off from preaching. And then I end up the only one to preach. I am always trying to avoid that.

This year we will be gone (in the US for our reporting trip) for 4 months. As preparation we have started this year an 8 week Preacher Seminar. The elders and three men in the church who the elders think could/should preach are meeting to learn how to write a sermon. It has a bit of theory but for the most part we are working on writing sermons, helping each other and becoming a Band of Brothers. The goal is that: of the 18 Sundays that I am away 12-15 sermons will already have been written before I leave June 4.

We are trying to do Eph. 4:11-13 also in giving other responsibilities over to others. Over the last year one man has started leading the service and playing his guitar in the service. For the Christmas Eve service three couples planned and led the service. All I did was preach a devotional on the subject and text they gave me. Katy organized the afterglow of hot drinks and cookies. Another couple has taken over a home Bible study meeting at their home.

When the people of the church take over more things, it frees time up for Katy and I to spend more time in outreach, the work of an evangelist. Of course training people is a lot of work and when people first start doing something, there is room for improvement, need I say. But the church people grow through being active and trying their gifts out.

Our goal is not that we do everything for the church but that we equip the church to do the work and be built up in Christ. That is the purpose of my work.