WHATCHU TALKIN BOUT WILLIS?

I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...



Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Who Am I?

In the early days of my preparation for "professional ministry" I began to wonder where my position ("minister") could be found in the Scriptures. Afterall, I am a pat of a movement that calls Bible things by Bible names and endeavors to speak where the Bible speaks. Early on I found "minister" in a concordance and it made me feel better. I later discovered that the word just meant "servant" in the original language, not some clerical office. So, I began to wonder some more. Then I was told that I was an "evangelist" which could be found in three places in the NT (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11 & 2 Tim. 4:5). I had never heard this concept before. I then heard good brothers like George L. Faull describe in precise detail of the office of "evangelist" in the New Testament church. Admittedly, this position became less tenable to me as the years progressed. Scott Sheridan argues for this understanding istead of the more popular "pastor" title/position of our day. Honestly, most of the so called "evangelists" I know don't function like the NT word itself implies. I tend to see that role as roughly equivalent to our "missionary" concept. So, again I ask who am I? Some would say I am a "preacher." Now, I do like doing what we call "preaching" but seriously is that supposed to be a church job? It seems like most of the "preaching" (or proclaiming) had to do with lost people = evangelistic work. Another thought came to me in my pursuit of a Biblical answer: the preaching elder of 1 Tim. 5:17. My friend Tim Warner argues for a pastor-teacher position in the church. You can read his thoughts here. Im not sure I'm persuaded to embrace this concept either though Tim makes some good points. Jack Cottrell (my favorite theologian), in his excellent book, "The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today" basically concedes that the modern minister is a hybrid position of sorts in today's church. I think he might be right. Now I don't beileve the Bible supports "the pastor" but maybe it doesn't support "the preacher" or "the minister" or "the evangelist" either. We might be guilty of forcing things a little too much in order to fit our theological positions. That's why I give Cottrell credit for admitting the obvious.What say you?

13 comments:

Doug said...

Go with "pulpit exhorter" LOL. Seriously, I've often wondered about the whole "evangelist" thing....didn't they always travel, "carrying" the message with them to the WORLD? I know I have a very limited understanding on the terms and titles used for different church "offices/officers", but maybe the preacher SHOULD be one of the Elders, thus making the term "pastor" fit! I look forward to reading any comments.

SammyBoy said...

1) Your link to Scott's piece actually goes to the Cottrell page.

2) It should be evident by now that: (a)I have little problem with letting language develop naturally; (b)I have no problem acknowledging that words develop new or different or sometimes just "tweaked" meanings over time, in popular usage; (c)I don't think it's necessarily wrong to use non-Biblical words to describe or name Biblically-derived ideas.

So, I line up with Cottrell on these things I am the Lead "Minister" of Cary Christian Church (CCC), although I am not the only "minister", since others serve the church as well. I am a "pastor" among CCC, although I am not one of the "Pastors" -- just as none of the Pastors are "The Great Shepherd". I am an "overseer" of CCC, although I am not one of the "Overseers". I am a "preacher" because I proclaim the gospel to the lost, and I proclaim other truths about God and the Faith to the lost and the saved.

I have a big ol' business card.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

We def have a hybrid version of what is prob suppose to be. This is y the elders need to be apt to teach (1st Timothy 3). But remember Timothy was an evangelist and was told to fulfill his ministry and that ministry was to teach Christians how to conduct themselves in the Household of God (1st Tim 3:15). But there is a sense in which the evangelist is also reaching out to lost people in the community. But lets be real, we dont have to leave the church sunday morn to preach to lost people, wait did i just say that out loud?

David H. Willis said...

Sam,

The link is fixed. Thanks.

gregul8r said...

Are we pastors? Of course we are. Why, because many of do the job of pastoring whether by job discription or because that is what the modern evangelist/ minister is expected to do.

Are we evangelists? Of course we are. Why, because we are to preach and teach and lead people to Christ. We Evangelize.

Do we Minister? Of course we do. We go visit and pray and take care of people not only in our congregation but also in our neighborhoods and community.

Are we leaders? The modern preahcer, evangelist, pastor, minister is expected to be. It seems that today's congregations and leadership (elders and deacons)look for men who have dedicated their life to teaching the Bible. They are also expected to perform any other duty that needs to be done or that the leadership sees fit for him to fill.

We are teachers, pastors, elders, vision casters, counselor's, music directors, finance keepers, organizers, adminstrators, and the list goes on.

So is there a title that fits us...
We are Christians with a passion to see people come to know the wonderful grace and love found in our Savior Jesus Christ.

Evangaminapasticouncelator's!

Whatcha think?

SammyBoy said...

Excellent word, Greg! Maybe we can get Disney to write a movie around the song!

David H. Willis said...

gregul8r the Evangaminapasticouncelator.

I dig it. You'll have to trun it by the NHCOC elders!

aaronsaufley said...

I've been doing a lot of thinking, praying, meditating, and re-reading Scriptures on this topic, and here's where I'm currently at:

The four-fold ministry in Ephesians ("God called some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teachers") might actually show a "passing of the torch" of sorts. Here's what I mean...

I think that "apostle" (not like the Twelve, but like Barnabas, who is called an apostle) and evangelist just may be interchangeable--they plant new churches in new places and occasionally return to encourage and correct (compare Barnabas, called an apostle of the church at Antioch, and Phillip, who is caled an evangelist). Long story short, the evangelist carries out the apostolic function in the church. They may be like "foreign missionaries" (like Barnabas) or more like regional church planters (like Phillip).

Prophets were people with the supernatural gift of telling what God was revealing, and got their gift directly from the Apostles by the laying on of hands. With the completion of the NT, the prophetic role passed from prophets (who taught from what was revealed to them) to pastor/teachers, who taught from what has already been revealed. The prophetic was (and is) carried on through the pastoral.

Hope that makes sense. I'm still rolling it around in my head, but it really makes sense to me.

David H. Willis said...

Aaron,

Good stuff. I don't think I ever noticed the "passing of the torch" you mentioned but i think it makes sense.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

Nobody is gunna like me for saying this but it needs to be said....We are not "pastors" bc we do "pastoring". If u follow that to its logical conclusion then the majority, if not all of, the Church is basically a pastor bc they generally do some sort of pastoring. Doing some sort of shepherding work doesnt make u a pastor it makes u a good Christian. I sherpherd weaker Christians, i visit sick people, i teach the word and refute false doctine, AM I A PASTOR? A pastor/elder is one who desires the role, meets the qualifications and is ordained to be one and THEN does the pastoring, shepherding, overseeing.

Soren said...

David,

I have traveled this same road of "identity crisis." Our paths are very similar (minister to evangelist to preacher to some sort of hybrid). Like you, I have never seen an evangelist do what they are told to do in the N.T (i.e. rebuke an elder in the presence of all). I am warming up to the pastor-teacher idea. I don't think the evangelist & elders mutual accountabilty concept is as clear as some have led us to believe. But I still bristle when some 25 year old guy calls himself THE Pastor. I think Cottrell is probably right.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

Ur dave willis preacher extraordinaire / buffet killer

David H. Willis said...

buffet killer for sure!