The preacher boy has now been on this road to full-time ministry for a while since his call. He’s got the clothes, perfected his preaching craft and bagged himself a wife. It’s now time to take the final steps from being a preacher boy to becoming a preacher man.
Since how well a man preaches is the ultimate measure of his worth as a pastor, the preacher boy who wants to catch the eye of the senior pastors and get on the fast tract to his own pastordom must take (or invent) every possible opportunity to preach. There’s no such thing as a bad time for a sermon with these guys. Every meal, ballgame, commercial break, or pause for breath must be used as a reason for the preacher boy to give a “brief challenge.” This is not usually brief and the real challenge is keeping track of how many new doctrines are being created. After months and years of plaguing everyone around him with alliterated aspersions, the preacher boy will head for…
This stamp of fundamentalist approval is paramount in the process. To get it, each preacher boy must do his best to be louder and more outrageous than the others in hopes that he will be noticed as the next up and coming great man of God. Inevitably, a few of the loudest and most obnoxious will, in fact, get noticed and be slated for one of the Yearly Ordination Council And Eating Contest positions. In fundy circles this means that the pastor gets together a panel of his cronies who will quiz the young man about vital Scriptural issues like the proper interpretation of the role of China’s military in Daniel’s eschatology. More important than what is discussed, however, is who is on the panel. The preacher boy will need names to drop when he goes for…
While some preacher boys will take a junior position as assistant or associate pastor, there’s an alarming frequency in fundyland of young men making their moves straight into the senior pastorate. One day you’re a Pastoral Ministries graduate who is flipping burgers and preaching at strangers on street corners; the next you’re king of all you survey with a clothing budget and the power to invoke God’s judgment on all who oppose you. It’s nice work if you can get it.
If you’re not lucky enough to be chosen by an established church there are other options. You could, for example, move to Arizona, start your own crazy cult church, and make a name for yourself on YouTube videos. Or so I’ve heard.
Choosing a Fundy U is an incredibly important step in a preacher boy’s life because it marks the territory of his future ministry possibilities. A BJU pastoral grad isn’t likely to find much opportunity at a “Hyles church” and a missions major from PCC may be considered too liberal to be supported by those in Crown circles. Pick your college, pick your friends.
The other possibility is that the preacher boy may decide that if John the Baptist didn’t have no book learning that he don’t need none neither. Down this path he may find a menial position on ministry staff at his home church where he can sit and learn at the feet of great men like his pastor and the part-time volunteer youth director/bus mechanic/grounds keeper.
He will hone his preaching technique, copying the voice and gestures of those he idolizes as carefully as he copies their sermon outlines to use later. He will practice and revise his “true life” illustrations until he can be sure that there won’t be a dry eye in the house by the time that rebellious teenager, her parents, and her dog finally perish in that freak balloon accident. He will learn how pastors walk, how they think, how they smile so it looks almost real, and how they nod attentively while planning what they’re going to say next.
But whether in the classroom or the school of sub-minimum wage hard knocks, the most important lessons that a preacher boy learns are those about himself. For he is a Man of God. He is the Man of God. He is practically a demigod. He is a prophet, priest, and king and none can say to him “what doest thou?” He will rise up and call himself blessed.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a newly minted preacher boy.
There is no worse feeling for a preacher boy than to have someone confuse him with a lowly layman and therefore he must take great pains to set himself apart from the rabble. As that great preacher Jonathan Edwards once noted “nothing makes a young man stand out from his peers as being serious-minded about ministerial pursuits like the purchase of a second-hand ill-fitting double-breasted suit from a thrift store.” It is sage words like these that have inspired Fundy U to make reading Dress for Success (last published 1988) as mandatory reading for all ministerial students.
In addition to the suit there are other accessories to worry about. What type of cuff links best reflect the Gospel? Do the paisleys on my tie correctly demonstrate my separation from the world? Do my shoes look like I’m ready to hand out a fierce butt-kicking to liberalism? Man is looking on the outward appearance so choose carefully.
One of the most important accessory choices that a preacher boy can make is his selection of a preaching Bible. For to a preacher boy his Bible is not merely (or realistically) for reading the Scriptures but also serves to demonstrate how serious he is about fundamentalism. The Bible must be black and covered with the skin of a dead animal. It must be large enough be noticed when it is waved about for emphasis and heavy enough to be used to thwack wayward bus kids on the head.
By this shall all men know the you are His disciples…
The most important day in a preacher boy’s life is the moment he receives THE CALLâ„¢. If the fledgling preacher has grown up in a fundamentalist church, this event can happen anytime from pre-school onward — although most will find it expedient to experience it sometime in junior high. If you’re not coordinated enough to make your fundy high-school basketball team (motto: “It’s a good thing we’re playing for heavenly rewards not earthly trophies”) , being a preacher boy is about your only hope of gaining any kind of status.
The date and surrounding circumstances of THE CALLâ„¢ must be carefully documented. One just can’t be too careful about remembering each detail for the sake of later sermon illustrations, pulpit committees, and parole boards. The elements of a good call story are these:
– It must happen during a sermon by either 1) a famous fundy preacher 2) A pastor who has been at the same church for over 20 years 3) Dad. If a preacher boy happens to get THE CALLâ„¢ while fishing or relaxing under a fig tree it’s best if he keeps that to himself until the next available altar call following a sermon by one of the above.
– It must include a heart-warming story about how terrible the preacher boy’s first experience with preaching was due to his ignorance and poor judgment on the part of whoever mistakenly let him into the pulpit. This should inspire the listeners to be amazed at how far the preacher boy has come since then by comparison. The worse he is now, the more tragic the story from the past must be.
– It must conclude with words that express how thankful the preacher boy is that he is not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. It would probably be best to omit references to how slim his chances at gainful employment were if he had not received THE CALLâ„¢.
Many are called but few are chosen. The rest are sure to eventually find jobs in sales.