Many of the Problems in the Church are a Result of Know-It-All Pastors

I’ve preached several messages that made me glad no one listens to me.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Any pastor who is doing his job will learn more about the Bible. The more biblical knowledge a person gets the more that person will change their beliefs. If your beliefs are not changing then you must not be taking in any new information. If you are not taking in any new information about the Bible you are either 1) not reading it or 2) you already know all of it.

The best way to learn the Bible is to try teaching it. Through years of preaching the Word I am continually confronted with new information, or more context, or more links between verses, ideas, and themes in the Bible, that adjust what I previously believed.

I used to keep recordings of my sermons. I don’t any more. This is for two reasons:

1) The tapes and cd’s were taking up too much room.
2) I couldn’t stand listening to myself teach things I no longer believed and furthermore, I didn’t want anyone who heard me now to hear what I used to say!

Those who have stuck with me over the years and paid attention know how much my doctrine has shifted. But most don’t stick around that long. People choose churches based on whether or not they are told what they already believe. Churches who teach what you already believe are known as “churches with good doctrine.”

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Grace, Forgiveness, and Jerks Who Leave Churches

PAIN-IN-THE-NECK PEOPLE LEAVING THE CHURCH: I’m sorry we ever came to this church.

ME: Apology accepted.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Of all the people who have left my church, not one of them has ever apologized.

Maybe that shouldn’t surprise me. People who leave churches always do it for high sounding spiritual reasons. Part of the fun of tearing apart the pastor is to make yourself feel spiritually superior, above the lowly ones you are leaving.

But I mean, think about it, is it possible that every single person who has left my church (and there have been many) was innocent? Is it possible that none of them ever did anything wrong to the church? Is it possible that only I made mistakes?

I have apologized to pretty much every person who has left my church and had a civil conversation with me about it, usually after calling them repeatedly or just showing up at their house because they weren’t going to initiate the conversation.

Which is another point: why is it that so many leave without saying anything? Is this a guilt admission that they know they weren’t perfect in the situation?

I don’t know. I probably spend too much time thinking about people who don’t think about me.

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Using Business Models to Hire Pastors is Bearing Ugly Fruit

THE CHURCH: I bet if we follow the world’s ideas of leadership it will work out great!

THE CHURCH 10 YEARS LATER: Huh, that’s weird, it’s not working. Welp, let’s keep at it.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Almost every week there is a news story about a pastor of a large church taking a fall. There are stories about para-church organizations that have grown big and their leaders abuse their power. There are reports of churches covering up sexual abuse and knowingly having felons lead ministry.

The news is quite depressing, especially since the world takes particular glee in reporting such things. Beating on pastors is good fun.

I, in no way, defend creepy pastors. They deserve to get punished by the law in the here and now and I believe for eternity they will receive their due for their behavior as well.

There’s even part of me that takes glee in seeing terrible pastors get caught and busted. They ought to be. Unfortunately, the mourning I feel far outweighs any gleefulness. The disastrous reputation we’ve given the church, causing the “Gentiles” to blaspheme, is a heavy weight that all pastors live under.

People view pastors with suspicion. That’s not a bad thing necessarily. Using skepticism in choosing a pastor is a good thing, it’s just too bad it takes abuse to make that a thing. Instead of being skeptical about what the pastor is teaching, now people are skeptical if the pastor can keep his hands under control and his pants zipped.

One of the main reasons there are so many pastors getting into trouble is because there are too many pastors. James gave the wise advice to not have many of you be teachers (James 3:1). Paul’s guidelines for choosing church leaders are mainly moral issues.

But today we use business models for choosing pastors and building churches. We look for degrees and track records of success. At some point in pastoral search committees someone will raise Paul’s qualifications, but it’s sort of tacked on and gets interpreted as, “Is this guy nice?”

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Volunteers and Other Terrible Things

The worst idea in all Church History is having everyone take their chair and put it on the chair rack themselves.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Churches are always looking for volunteers. My church is not.

I have given up on asking for volunteers. The people most wiling to volunteer are frequently also the people least likely to be able to perform the work for which they volunteered. Volunteers are generally people who think they can do the job. The only people who think they can do a job are people who don’t know what the job is.

Cynicism makes up much of this opinion, but experience has informed it as well.

When we needed more volunteers for our kids’ ministry, we would throw out a general appeal. Terrible people ended up filling those roles. We had pregnant unmarried women, people arrested for drugs and drunk driving, and people who hated every minute of being there and merely agreed due to our guilt-ridden pleas.

I eventually cancelled the kids’ ministry due to the terrible level of “leadership” we were providing kids. I was hoping this would reform the leaders. Nope, they just got mad, left the church, and blamed my pathetic leadership.

Church buildings are maintained by volunteer work. I’m amazed more church buildings have not burned to the ground.

Chair carts are all the proof you need. If you tell a group to fold up their chairs and stack them on the cart; the leaned over, stuck together, facing every which direction mass of chairs, kind of on the cart, that will result will make you cry. Half the cart will be taken up by leaned over chairs, which makes others lean their chairs up against the cart rather than on the cart. This defeats the entire purpose of having a cart for chairs, people.

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Pastors and Politics

THEM: Pastors should voice more political opinions.

ME: OK. Most Republicans and Democrats are going to hell. You should tell them the Gospel.
@FailingPastor

 

 

We’ve had some contentious elections in our country lately. People are wound a little tight.

During the last big “most important election of our lives” season, a lady in church told me she was thinking she wouldn’t come back to church if she had to be around people who disagreed with her political views. She then told me that it was my job to tell them how to vote. Yup, it was my fault they were following their parent’s traditional political line.

She did skip church for a few weeks, but when her guys won the election she came back. Several months later she told me how much she loved our church and how she would, and I quote, “never think of leaving it.”

I stay out of politics. The only time politics enter my sermon is when I mention how I stay out of politics, or when the Bible passage at hand tells us to respect government authority, or when an issue that is in the Bible passage I’m dealing with has a modern political angle everyone is fired up about that has to be addressed.

I don’t tell people how to vote. I don’t tell people to vote even. I make no mention of civic duty, nor do I pledge the flag in church or anything. I’m all for the separation of church and state and do my part to keep it real.

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Should Pastors Be Experts in Greek? μη γενοιτο!

The only actual perk of taking Greek in seminary is being able to tell people “I took Greek in seminary.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

The first seminary class I took was a summer class covering three years of college level Greek in 7 weeks. It was intense. It wasn’t easy. I can honestly say I followed quite a bit of it until we got to verb endings, then I began slipping. Luckily, I was able to hang on to my early success to scrape by with a solid C.

I took many more Greek classes, none of which helped me understand verb endings. I took the upper level classes on New Testament books that were for the Greek track students. I wrote papers referencing Greek words and sounded really intelligent.

Sounding intelligent at Greek has never been easier. The tools available today are astounding. I can only imagine what greater minds than mine could have come up with if they had access to the tools I have. To whom much is given, much is required.

On the other hand, to whom much is given, it’s easier to fool people you are better than you are.

I have no idea what Greek verbs are doing to this day. I’ve read books, worked through Greek workbooks, consulted Greek professors and Greek smart people, and I got nothing. I just don’t get it. I was told early on that if you were good with higher level math you’ll have no problem with Greek. Well, there you go. I took Algebra 2 twice in high school.

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Christians Don’t Want The Truth, They Want The Happy

If people only knew how well they were not hiding their problems.
@FailingPastor

 

 

One of the perks of being a pastor is that you know the truths of people’s lives. OK, that’s not even close to being a perk; it’s one of the massively depressing cons of the ministry.

Everyone attempts to put on a good face. Facebook allows people to give the manicured, happy Christian spin on their lives. Yet we know the pain behind those smiles, behind those Christian clichés that are spouted by seemingly happy people trying to make others happy.

It amazes me how persistent people are in maintaining their happiness while their life crumbles around them.

Several people going through divorces have said it was “God’s will that they get divorced” and the other guy they were seeing is a much “godlier man.” This was God’s convoluted way of bringing about “His will.” I’m always confused how divorce, which is not God’s will, is part of how God makes His will happen. The amount of sin being blamed on God to maintain our happiness will come up on Judgment Day.

People are hurting. This is one reason why pastors are depressed: we know the pain that people are going through. On top of that, we also are met with the complete indifference most have toward addressing that pain biblically. Most will maintain a happy Christian veneer on their pain instead of dealing with it.

Several divorcing couples had at least one spouse who refused to talk to me because they didn’t want to hear “all that Bible stuff.” So they went on their way, finalizing their divorce and telling their Christian friends it was “God’s will” and “all things work together for good.”

Continue reading “Christians Don’t Want The Truth, They Want The Happy”