Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Martin Lloyd-Jones & time away from the home pulpit

Did you know that in Martyn Lloyd-Jones' day it was common practice for ministers to be granted 13 Sundays away from their home pulpit? I assume some of these were for "vacation" (though perhaps that more of a modern concept), but the main idea was to allow the minister the opportunity to speak in other pulpits or to entertain guest preachers when they came through. In his first 12 months in the pastorate at Wales, Lloyd-Jones preached at 54 different places!

Now try imagining convincing your elder and/or deacon board (not to mention the congregation) to give you 13 Sundays (over 3 months) away from the pulpit! I'm sure it simply isn't going to happen and you would probably be accused of being lazy just for asking. At the very lest you may get someone (even in leadership) say something foolish like "that's what we pay you for".

However, look at the tragic consequences we have endured as a result: most churches are plateaued or dying, pastors burn-out, congregations receive only one very myopic perspective and become spiritually weak and lethargic, other congregations cannot be blessed by your minister, the Body of Christ stays segregated and fragmented, your pastor is forbidden from serving the larger Body of believers and is unable to continue to develop and grow (certain growth as a speaker can only occur in multiple speaking venues), he is shut-off from seeing fruit develop and the Spirit work through his giftedness outside his own local body, and he is virtually cut-off from deep spiritual interaction with other ministers.

OK, maybe thirteen Sundays is a little much considering the financial burden it would place on the congregation (e.g. having to pay pulpit supply). However, since most pastors only receive 2 or 3 Sundays off per year (for vacation, not for speaking elsewhere) I think we have sufficiently over corrected ourselves. Perhaps we could meet somewhere in the happy middle.


  1. Why pay pulpit supply? Have your elders preach when you aren't there.

  2. Arthur,

    If your going to bring what is clear New Testament practice into this discussion then lets just close the blog down and call it quits! We're Christians, for crying out loud! What does the Bible have to do with this?

  3. That pesky ol' Bible.....did God REALLY say??....Oh. Covered that ground in Gen. 3.

    On the flip side, we have situations where the pastor doesn't DARE turn over the pulpit to anyone else because no one else is qualified (in his eyes) to meet his standards. This is probably more a church government issue than a pastor issue, though, right?

  4. You can't close down your blog, where would you post pictures of yourself?

  5. Wait. Jeff are you suggesting that some pastors have an inflated view of their own irreplacibility?

  6. Arthur:

    Just ran across a quote today from your old buddy Charles De Gaulle: "The cemetery is filled with indispensable men."