Friday, November 14, 2008

The Kind of Pastor (and churches) I Would Avoid

I am a pastor, and have been most of my life. I love the calling. It’s a privilege and honor to serve in this capacity. The office is a special one. Personally, there’s no greater honor when I hear someone say, “This is my pastor.”

Pastors are good people. They are highly trained, dedicated, and live sacrificial lives. They are constantly growing, giving, and laying down their lives. There are more good pastors than there are bad ones. In fact, I have met only a few in my lifetime that I would consider to be off their rocker.

Surveys reveal that one of the issues that rates highest in influencing which church people will choose to attend is the pastor. What is he like? What does he believe? What is his doctrine? What is his personality like? Do I like the guy? Etc.

Like it or not, great churches usually have great pastors - not committees.

Having said that, here are 4 kinds of pastors I would avoid:

1. I would avoid any pastor who tells me who to marry. That is way too much intrusion into your life. No “good” pastor wants to make that decision for you. They want to help you get married well so that you can have a long, happy life; and they will guide you by the scriptures.

2. I would avoid any pastor who tells me what my standard of living is supposed to be. It’s not a pastors job to tell you what kind of house you are supposed to live in, and what kind of lifestyle you can afford. However, it is the pastors’ job to teach you the Scriptures and what they say about managing finances.

3. I would avoid a pastor who is mean. Mean preaching fills churches up with mean people.

4. I would avoid a pastor who has a new revelation or special insight. There are some preachers & teachers who exude this aura that they have the inside scoop to God, while they rest of us do not…. and we need THEM to give it to us. They lead you to believe that their train of thought is a cut above the pew level. It could be a certain doctrine, a theology, or a prophecy. Such people are dangerous. They are pinheads. You should avoid them like the plague. Whatever God wants you to know is plainly written in the scriptures, and “even a wayfaring man, though he were a fool, will not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8).

5. I would avoid a pastor who has a long list of dos and don’ts. No amount of moralistic ranking and raving makes a person a Christian or changes ones heart. It’s about seeking truth, and true seekers ultimately find The One Who IS Truth. Jesus said, “I am way, the truth, and the life.” When I seek truth, I find Christ. When I find Christ, He changes my heart. When my heart is changed my behavior changes. Don’t allow another person to conform you into a disciple made in his own image – his personal convictions are not to become yours.