Random thoughts (no doubt related to conscious thoughts) are constantly in a pastor’s mind. What do I think about that? How should I handle this? Which approach is most Christ-honoring, most helpful, most impactful? I have no idea if any of what’s banging around in my head will connect with or assist your thinking today. But hey, I’m gonna try, if only to experience the benefit of getting my own thoughts ‘on paper.’ Here they are, with the prayer that I can be a blessing to you and your ministry.
Shepherd, Teacher, Prophet
Shepherds comfort and encourage with the Word; teachers explain its meaning with clarity, forming a solid doctrinal foundation for life in Christ; prophets call out sin and exhort us toward holiness. Each of us as preachers, by personality and practice tend to entrench one of those tonalities in our preaching. But what if you let the Word of God set the tone for your message this weekend? Effective preachers are asking not just “What should I preach,” but “How should I preach it?” Your answer to the second question will migrate toward your most common tonality, if you’re not intentional. Surely we should not be preaching the comforting words of John 11, where Martha and Mary are weeping, with the same tone as Jesus’ address to the Pharisees in Matthew 23. If the passage is bringing comfort as a shepherd would, make sure you match that gentle pastoral tone which communicates care and supportiveness. If something is being taught that is prophetic, bring the thunder as a prophet would, calling the people to God’s holy standard without apology. If the passage is complex and/or doctrinal, slow down and take the time to teach them the Scriptures with careful attention to understanding. Which tone/approach comes most easily to you? Many sermons require all three, but take the time to locate the dominant tone of the text reaching past your ‘go-to’ tonality to match the tone of the text. Your people will be better served, and God’s Word will be more effectively and accurately communicated.
Keep Your Exhortations about Fellow Pastors Out of Public View
As Christ followers, we don’t criticize brothers or sisters in Christ publicly. Not on Twitter, not on blogs, not by name, certainly not from the pulpit—not ever. Discussing issues and debating doctrinal variances can be edifying. But if the matter is personal, even if the error has become public, we still allow ‘love to cover’ (1 Peter 4:8) and go to the person privately. If we don’t have or can’t get access to the person, we pray that someone with access will be faithful to their responsibility and bring the needed correction—but we don’t air our dirty laundry. If the person needing correction is a false teacher (error that threatens the gospel), then public warning may be called for; but love for God’s family, witness before the world, and biblical understanding of Christian relationship calls for rebuke of brothers to be private, not public. Don’t let those who see it differently egg you on to ‘take a stand.’ Stand for brotherly love and get off your soap box. I could give examples of fellow pastors who need to hear this, but that would violate the principle I am sharing here, wouldn’t it? I could give past examples of where I failed in this, but that would only repeat the error of public rebuke, when private reproof is what the Scripture calls for. Read a fuller post on this here.
Reading the Scripture during Worship
A recent post described the powerful impact of Scripture reading that is carefully prepared and given during worship. Read More