Baptist History Homepage

Ministerial Slavery
By M. T. Martin
Mississippi Pastor & Editor
      Every true minister is a servant of Christ, in the strictest sense. In some respects he is expected to be the servant of the churches. A pastor is, in some respects, the servant of the church, but he is still overseer.

      Having had a good opportunity to "take in" the situation, we wish to say a few things about the relations between our churches and pastors. There are very few settled pastors - very few who feel settled. If a pastor does not accommodate himself to the whims and prejudices of his people, especially to the demands of those who think more of the success of their own personal interests than they do of the cause of Christ, he may expect to move soon. There are generally enough of that kind in a church to make the situation unpleasant. If the pastor is true to his calling these schemers and grumblers are an eternal pest. If he yields to them he becomes unfit for usefulness, and the end generally is that he has to move. These schemers already have their eye on another man, and perhaps have a private contract with him.

      By a kind of unwritten creed among and between preachers and churches, it is expected of a preacher to "step down and out" at the bidding of a few whose business it seems to be to move the preacher whenČever it suits their whims and prejudices to do so. A safe rule, just here, would be, that the preacher be his own judge as to his future usefulness, unless a majority of the church should judge it best that he should resign. It would often be better that a small, scheming, grumbling minority should be excluded than that a preacher who is satisfactory to the real working element of the church should be removed. It is often found that this grumbling, preacher-moving element are unconverted, and hence the whole church are controlled by an unconverted minority. If the truth as it is in Christ Jesus is preached, the unconverted are sure to turn away from it. If proper discipline is exercised, the worldly-minded will demand a sweeter-spirited preacher, even though the preacher is not responsible for the discipline. Our people are married and intermarried with other faiths, and mixed and intermixed in business relations with the advocates of error to such an extent that the preacher cannot contend for the faith once delivered to the saints without giving offence to his own people. With a few exceptions - and these exceptions are where churches are built up by sound, faithful preaching - straight-forward preaching and a demand for strict discipline, will cause the pastor to be requested to move. Ought preachers to succumb to such a demand? We say, No. We believe very much in the independence of the preacher who, when he entered his pastorate, said to the church: "Well, brethren, I am your pastor and a member of the body; we are a body of the Lord Jesus. I am pastor; we have deacons and members: we all have our duties. We should work harmoniously. If at any time I should become dissatisfied, I shall resign; should any of the deacons or members become dissatisfied, it is their privilege to resign, and I hope they will do it." A little of such independence would put a new phase upon things."

      Pastors are largely responsible for this state of things, but not entirely. Some other preacher who is a place-hunter is often a party in disturbing the relations existing between pastor and church. These place-hunters are a general nuisance, and when one of them gets into a place he soon finds that a majority, if not the whole, of the converted element of the church feel that he should follow his calling, and hunt another place. There is a responsibility to God and his truth resting upon a true minister which should never be ignored. If a prejudice is worked up against a minister by designing parties, and he knows it is without foundation, it is his sacred duty to stand for the truth, and close his ears to every suggestion that he should resign for the sake of the cause. HE SHOULD HOLD HIS PLACE FOR THE SAKE OF THE CAUSE, and teach these undermining schem-ers a lesson. "Truth crushed to earth will rise again."


[From M. T. Martin, Theological and Doctrinal Views of M. T. Martin: Editorials in the Gospel Standard and Standard Expositor, printed about 1892, pp. 13-16. Document provided by Cecil Fayard, Elliot, MS. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Mississippi Baptist History Index
Baptist History Homepage