Skip to comments.10 Pastors Iím Concerned About
Posted on 04/13/2014 7:53:34 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Its not a secret the church has been in decline for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. You can read some statistics and views on why, here and here and here. Everyone has their opinions.
Abuse, apostasy, and irrelevance are just a few of the words that keep coming up in the search for reasons for the decline. There are a variety of compelling opinions and I even have a few of my own.
But I suggest there is another area of decline more significant and perhaps much less obviousand one that certainly contributes to the churchs decline in numbers.
And I think its likely a careful analysis would implicate the church’s leadership for this more significant issue.
By saying so, Im not suggesting this pastor has it all together. Nor am I trying to cultivate (or ratify) some dishonest skeptics’ hate for the church. Rather, Im hoping to raise some concerns in a conversational kind of way.
Further, Im not claiming to be the expert in all church issues. However, I have been in some form of pastoral ministry for the last 19 years and feel I have some measure of insight about the issue.
So in an effort to pursue this conversation in a healthy way, here are 10 pastors I’m concerned about.
Im concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but Im not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. Its quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.
Im concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology. Sure topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation. But to pique interest in the unchurched, church-growth pastors have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.
Im concerned about the pastor who is a chief executive instead of a contemplative sage. The pastor is called to a contemplative life of prayer and study of the word (Acts 6:4 cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). From that life his ministry flows to the church. The pastor was never called to be a rock-star communicator or bench-mark business leader. He was called to model redemption and shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4 cf. Acts 20:28). Perhaps pastors should consider putting away their John Maxwell and Nelson Searcy books and picking up the Bible and the church fathers.
Im concerned about the pastor who uses the pulpit to milk members instead of minister to the saints. It was the angry atheist, Richard Dawkins, who asked Ted Haggard (back in the day) why he needed a multi-million dollar sound system that paralleled that of MTV to teach people about God. I think thats a question that deserves an answer. Why do pastors need to build bigger and better on the backs of God’s people? I think the answer may be rooted in the human heart. Francis Chan seemed to have caught that vision when he was still pastor in Simi Valley. And if we think we need to build bigger barns, perhaps we should pray about church planting as a viable alternative.
Im concerned about the pastor who makes growing the church the goal instead of glorifying God the goal. There is no biblical mandate for growing the church. Sure there is one for propagating the gospel and making disciples. But the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. There is nothing in Scripture, except pride, that drives pastors to drive the flocks they are supposed to be tending.
Im concerned about the pastor who builds his ministry with people instead of building people by his ministry. It seems I’ve said this already, just differently. But here Im speaking to a philosophy that often underlies many of the abuses in the church. For example, a well-known mega-church pastor once advised me to think of people in seven-year terms. He explained that people generally burn out after seven years. And if I wanted to build a big ministry for God, I would need to leverage those seven years. Funny, I dont recall God asking pastors to leverage his people for the pastor’s dream of building a big church for God.
Im concerned about the pastor who cultivates a culture of dependency on himself instead of cultivating a culture of community within the church. Of course, Im not denying spiritual dependency on Christ is biblical. But the pastor is not the peoples savior. Hes a just man who will burn out and fail himself given enough time and responsibility. Christians should be taught to depend on Jesus as our Savior, the church as our sanctifying community, the Bible as our word from God, and the Spirit as our parakletos.
Im concerned about the pastor who reads and teaches the Bible literally instead of literarily. This is not to suggest the Bible is not important or any less Gods word. Its to say the Bible is literature, divine literature to be sure, but literature nonetheless. That means it needs to be read and understood as Gods word to us (or for us) in the context of its literary genre. Not all the Bible is prescriptive; and none of it was written to be used as a random list of verses cherry-picked capriciously to beat people up or defend our personal ideas and beliefs. The Bible is the holy canon which reveals God to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Pastors who mishandle Gods word are extremely dangerous.
Im concerned about the pastor who contributes to the culture of consumerism instead of combating idolatry. Pastors who pander to the consumerism in the church are no different than parents who give their kids everything they want to keep them from throwing a fit or to get them to reciprocate love. Christianity isnt a smorgasbord where people get to pick and choose what they like or dont. Its a community of believers on a journey and mission of faith who live in communitas with others for the glory of God, the blessing of his people, and the advancement of his kingdom.
Im concerned about the pastor who sees the church as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as a custodian of Christ’s kingdom. Certainly, God moves people. And certainly pastors have a right to pursue other ventures as the Lord leads and gives liberty. But the church is the primary agent for the stewardship of the gospel and the redemption of the cosmos. Its the integral institution for advancing Christs kingdom and for shaping culture and society. Its not Gods second-hand agency. Its not his Plan B. Jesus died for the church and it is significant.
These are a few of my concerns about pastors. What are your concerns?
The American church will be fine, as soon as we repent, fast, and pray.
I agree, but # 8 had me a bit worried about where it was going
Church Rescue propels unlikely reality TV stars: church consultants
While I have my own problems or issues with the church as a whole didn’t the Bible tell us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. i.e. It is really up to us to question ourselves and the Bible and not blindly follow anyone but to actually do the work of believing! Putting our faith in the hands of another individual other than the Lord himself is a dangerous practice!
....And get rid of the Socialists.
My grandfather once said to never trust a preacher who owns more than one suit. I thought that good advice then, and I think it’s good advice now.
All in all, it's not a bad list.
Number 8 suggests that this guy doesn't like people who believe in Miracles, or the flood or Jonah or Creation or Adam and Eve and he wants people to take lessons from those stories without believing they are literal. He is suggesting that these stories should be read a literature (i.e., MYTH) rather than literal stories.
Unfortunately since Jesus referred to Noah, Jonah, and Adam and Eve as real people, this guy is suggesting that Jesus was a myth teller.
Might be included in the above list, but a Pastor who goes out of his way to be “hip” has his priorities way out of whack.
I think his objection is to people who take verses out of context. Some people use the Bible like an oracle, opening it up to a random page. Some people find a verse that seems encouraging to them, or approving of their actions, without considering, what history was being told? Who was God speaking to? Does the verse apply to a specific time and place, or to all times?
That was a very large word salad to say that he wants to cherry pick verses that he does not want to follow.
Amazing how he accuses others of exactly what he is doing.
No, what he's saying is that they have to be interpreted in light of the kind of literature they are. You don't interpret the laws of Leviticus in the same way as the poetry of the Psalms. You don't read the apocalyptic books (which are deeply couched in metaphor and symbolism) in the same way as you read the history books (which are basically straight prose). Proverbs are wise generalizations about the way the world works, and so if you treat them either as case law or promises, you're missing the point. And so forth.
To me that statement suggests that the stories in the Bible, you know, the ones we teach our children, such as the creation, Noah, Jonah, Adam and Eve are just "literature" and not Literal.
If Jesus referred to Noah (he did) Jonah (he did) and Adam and Eve (he did) as real people, then we best not try to treat those stories as anything other than the LITERAL truth.
This guy was not there. Jesus was.
How do you know what he meant?
He decried those who teach the bible LITERALLY instead of LITERARILY.
That is the teaching method of liberal churches.
In a literal manner or sense; exactly.
In a literary manner
Concerning the writing, study, or content of literature, esp. of the kind valued for quality of form.
His words were not explained. However, his words speak for themselves. If he meant something different he should have used different words. Perhaps he was just trying to be cute. Or perhaps he could only think of 9 good reasons and threw in this one just to make an even 10.
Personally I think people who teach the bible literarily rather than literally are the more dangerous. Most liberal churches are pastored by the former.
Don’t even get me going.
But that is covered by several of these points, really.
What if he is "hip" and always has been "hip"?
I have only one concern....and that is that most pastors don’t teach the reality of Satan and how he’s working very hard to destroy not only the Church but the Middle class too.
These days all other concerns are moot.
That’s why I could never be a good pastor.
I interpreted his words in light of their literary genre, which is a blog post containing didactic material. ;)
He decried those who teach the bible LITERALLY instead of LITERARILY.
And he did so quite rightly, though the dichotomy between literally and literarily is not so sharp as you are representing it as.
You would not read Psalm 50:10 literally, for example, unless you wish to assert that God is literally saying that the cattle on Hills 1,001+ belong to someone else. It is not a literal statement. You properly read it literarily: as a metaphor that means everything on earth belongs to God. Read it literally, and you're abusing it.
That is the teaching method of liberal churches.
It is part and parcel of the grammatical-historical method of interpretation, which I would expect to be taught at any responsible, Bible-believing college or seminary.
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