How to Slaughter Young Preachers

It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was pork-making by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent; they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests - and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without pretense at apology, without the homage of a tear.”

These are words from Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle, a graphic exposé of the unsanitary and inhumane meat-packing industry of turn of the century Chicago. But it wasn’t really about the slaughter of hogs. It was about the people having to work in those conditions. People who were being slowly destroyed by the conditions.

As I read those words, a lump forms in my throat. It draws to mind a modern-day slaughter of the innocent. Not animals, but the slaughter of kingdom workers. The slaughter of young preachers. Now that might seem like an extreme exaggeration, but I have observed a growing trend of churches who are devouring young preachers rather than developing them. It does not take place in warehouses or on slaughterhouse floors, but in of all places, churches. Here are some ways churches are slaughtering young preachers.

They expect that young preachers know nothing. They ignore the fact that these young men have dedicated themselves fully to understanding and communicating God’s word. They ignore that they have trained at a university or school of preaching. They ignore that young preachers spend the majority of their days studying scripture. They think of them as children that need to listen and learn and they don’t listen to the young preacher, because he knows nothing.

They expect young preachers to know everything. They expect them to have a ready answer for every one of their “biblical” questions or to be able to spout the wisdom of Solomon about every one of their individual problems. They’re impatient with them and their teaching. Since they “know everything”, they don’t give them any opportunity to grow, continue their education or let them take advantage of any spiritual development. They make sure that these young men don’t get any rest, because they’re young and they aren’t paid to rest.

They underpay them. They disregard the fact young preachers are just starting a family and have probably made great financial sacrifices to go into ministry. They don’t provide for a young preacher’s future, insurance or retirement. They make constant demands of them but never expend for them. They don’t provide these young men anything beyond their basic needs or the resources they need to do their best. They figure the man will get by or just quietly move on.

They criticize them. They criticize their clothes, their hair, their preaching style, their preaching content, their family, etc. They compare them to other preachers, their favorite preacher, the former preacher or, even, the next preacher. They do it publicly and privately. They gossip about them to others and listen to the complaints from others about them. They never commend, encourage or defend them. They do whatever they can to quench the young man’s fire!!

The future of the church will be bleak if there are not good men to fill her pulpits. Many of the good men needed, are already present. They are standing in pulpits today. They are young, and inexperienced, but full of excitement. They are needing to be loved, appreciated and mentored, but too many will be slaughtered, “without a pretense at apology, without the homage of a tear.”

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