Do abuses prove that preachers are being overused in congregations?
I suppose my reasoning for my concerns with the article on preachers is rooted in other issues. I see so much abuse of the preacher position in the churches of Christ, in general. We are expecting these men to do everything while many members feel their role is to put their check in the plate as it passes by. I’ve spoken with some brethren, not mutual edification brethren though, who are concerned with the spectator spirit which is being developed. I’m afraid some could read the article and assume that the things you mentioned are the duties primarily associated with the preacher instead of the scriptural approach which is those duties either the duties of elders and preachers or the duties of Christians, in general.
The issue of “distribution” goes back to my concern with the abuses of the preacher position. If a congregation has ten men who are qualified to present extended lessons but allows only nine to speak once a year and the other man to do the rest then the congregation seems to elevate the voice of one teacher over the others. “Mutual edification” becomes the exception rather than the rule. I personally know of one congregation where one man spoke numerous times because he enjoyed speaking. Maybe 50% of the time. However, he has realized that when he gives such a large percentage of the lessons when several other men are qualified to give lessons, he is stunting their spiritual growth.
As I pointed out before, the core of your argument is you know better than other congregations how they should best use the talents present in their members. Your current argument is based on perceived abuses. Such abuses do not constitute proof that your views are correct. If you and I agree that congregation X is not accurately following the Bible, it doesn't lead to a conclusion that every congregation is misapplying the Scriptures, nor does it lead to a conclusion that a specific alternative must be used.
It appears to me that you focus on only one aspect of the church's work. We have men who present short lessons before the Lord's Supper, men who present classes on Sunday Morning and on Wednesday nights, men who offer short lessons on our singing nights and after our classes on Wednesday night. These lessons are just as vital for the well being of the congregation as the longer lessons presented on Sunday morning and evening. However, because they are not the longer lessons given during worship, you tend to discount them as unimportant.
I'm also amazed that you believe that a man is unable to grow properly without delivering a lesson. Such is backward from what the Bible teaches. "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13). Those skilled in presenting lessons as evangelists, pastors, and teachers, all do so to build up the church. It is true that they also derive benefits from their own lessons, but the focus of the lessons is to build up those listening and learning -- not the teachers.
You leave the impression in your objection that preachers are wrong in doing what is their duty, to proclaim the word of God (Romans 1:15-16; I Corinthians 1:21). You find some preachers doing their job to what you feel to be an excess, but it remains simply your opinion. (An opinion you are giving to other congregations where you are not a member.) When a preacher presents a lesson to the congregation, it is not wrong. Yet you are implying that it is wrong if the number of times he does so exceeds an unspecified and arbitrary limit that you have in mind.