LIGHTING THE FIRE
Jeremiah 20:9: Then I said, I will not make mention of him or preach anymore in his name. But his word was as a burning fire shut up in my bones and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
Why do Preacher’s Quit?
Many of us know of preachers who quit after only a few years preaching. Some statistics show that up to 50% of our preachers quit preaching within the first five years after leaving school. The most common reason for quitting (and for preachers moving) is that they have not learned how to deal with the brethren, nor the brethren with them. Although our sound training schools have done an excellent job equipping fine men with Bible knowledge and teaching them how to prepare and deliver sermons, they still lack the practical training in people skills that can only come from being on the battlefield.
My name is Mike Glenn, a gospel preacher of over 45 years. My wife, Teresa, and I have known many young preachers who became discouraged, disillusioned and have finally quit. There are also many experienced preachers who become bitter about the treatment they have received and come to consider the brethren adversaries in God’s work. These outcomes are not beneficial to the kingdom. The elders of the Seven Hills church of Christ in Lynchburg, VA, oversee Lighting the Fire. It is a reclamation and mentoring program designed to help discouraged, struggling or new young preachers. This mentoring process follows the biblical method of Elijah, Jesus, Paul and Barnabas in preparing men to preach.
We’re Losing Our Preachers
Up to 50% of gospel preachers quit preaching within five years of graduating school. The most common reason is because they haven’t learned how to relate to the brethren. Our sound training schools do an excellent job of equipping men with Bible knowledge and preparing them to deliver sermons. Often though, they lack the practical training in people skills that can only come from being on the battlefield. New preachers are often young, lacking the wisdom of age. While they (and their wives) begin with fresh energy and zeal for saving a lost world, they also often possess other traits of youth: bold idealism, sensitive self-esteem and youthful pride. They struggle to understand how to gain cooperation from members; to handle spiritual or doctrinal congregational problems; and to counsel many members who are older.
They boldly and confidently set out to help people get on the right path, but their efforts are often unappreciated. Clashes occur. Feelings are hurt and relationships are strained. Ultimately, a separation with that congregation occurs. The young man and his family move on to a new position, where too often the story is repeated. Eventually, the fiery enthusiasm to preach is extinguished. Lighting the Fire is designed to help develop leadership skills, godly attitudes and spiritual relationships. It helps build spiritual depth and wisdom that will light the fire and keep it burning with gratitude to God for the privilege of preaching, even in challenging times. We need sound preachers who keep preaching with a good attitude and can lead people to change their lives for Christ!!
Jesus trained his disciples by keeping them with Him for 3 years while He did His work. Paul and Barnabas trained Mark, Timothy and Titus over several years. If we finish the training of our preachers using this biblical method, then men today can also be equipped to persevere in the Kingdom with the right attitude.
The Solution – How It Work
The men are invited into the program for two years, during which they work in every aspect of full-time ministry. This allows them to deepen their knowledge and hone their talents while gaining wisdom about relationship building in the church. They learn how to handle criticism and praise from both the members and the leadership. Throughout their time they come to understand that the work is not about them or their needs, but instead, learn how to focus on following Christ’s example: love the brethren no matter how they behave. The counseling and training varies based on individual needs, but the preacher and his family are immersed in the work of the church and evangelism within the congregation and out in the community. Donnie Vick, a recent graduate of the program stated, “If a preacher is discouraged in preaching or new to preaching, LTF can help put the fire in his bones! When a preacher goes through challenges in his work, someone unfamiliar with preaching might think, ‘Can’t he just get over it? What’s the big deal?’ The preacher’s job is to encourage brethren, but who will encourage the preacher when he faces trouble? LTF will do for a preacher what Paul’s second letter did for Timothy and angel’s food for Elijah (1 Kings 19) The funds and the work for this program are overseen by the eldership of the Seven Hills church of Christ in Lynchburg, VA.
Will you work with us?
It is our goal to establish a work and salary fund, receiving enough regular contributions to support these men. We continue to raise our contribution to this work. Our prayer is that your congregation will help us with $100, $200, or even $500 per month to save our preachers. If you cannot help on a monthly basis, will you help with a quarterly (5th Sundays), yearly, or an immediate one-time contribution? No contribution is too small to help.”
Please mail all contributions to:
Seven Hills church of Christ
810 Old Graves Mill Rd.
Lynchburg, VA 24502
Notate the check for Lighting the Fire.
Also, please contact me about any further information I can provide for you.
Mike Glenn: firstname.lastname@example.org