I’ve had the privilege of working with pastors from all kinds of tribes and ministry contexts. Though no two pastors are the same, we do share a lot of the same hopes for our churches. We share a lot of the same frustrations too. And while I obviously can’t speak for all pastors, I’ve spoken with enough to know I’m not alone in hoping I never hear these phrases again.
- “Good Sermon”
Can I tell you something about pastors? We didn’t get into this business for the pats on the back. We got into it because we long to see God do in your life what we’ve seen him do in our lives and the lives of so many others.
That’s why we pastor. That’s why we preach.
When someone says “good sermon,” it immediately tells me the sermon was, in fact, not that good.
Like many in my generation, I’ve done some moving around and with each new move I’ve had to begin the difficult process of searching for a new church home. If you’re like most, a day is coming when you too will be on the search for a new church to call home. When that day comes, you may want to think twice before using these all-too-common reasons for making your choice:
1. “The Pastor is Really Good.”
Perhaps no other man apart from Jesus has had a bigger influence on the church than Paul. But here’s the thing: neither you nor I would have been a big fan of his preaching style. Paul had a reputation for being unimpressive in person and giving contemptible sermons (2 Corinthians 10:10). One sermon in particular was so bad it lulled a parishioner to sleep who then fell out the window to his death (Acts 20:9).
If you’ve ever found yourself betrayed, let down, or hurt by religious people or their leaders, you’ve probably experienced your own fair share of PTCD.
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the work of Vincent Van Gogh. In college I had a couple of his paintings hung in my cramped little freshman dwelling – his Cafe Terrace at Night displayed prominently between Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews posters. There is just something about the rich color and deep emotive quality of his work that has always struck a deep chord in me. It wasn’t until fairly recently, however, that I learned about Vincent Van Gogh, the man. What I learned was shocking.
Let’s be honest, while there are some good reasons for leaving a church, there are a lot more bad ones. As a pastor, I hear some of them every now and then as people walk out the door. As a church planter, I hear them constantly as people walk in the door. If you’re thinking about looking for a new church home, please don’t use one of these five reasons to make the jump:
I have a confession to make: I am a pastor and until now I have largely avoided the topic of homosexuality. I have avoided writing about it. I have largely avoided talking about it. And until a couple weeks ago, I have avoided preaching about it.
If I am really honest, I suppose a lot of it has had to do with fear. Homosexuality is a “lightening rod” issue. For many, it is a deeply personal issue. As a pastor, it can often feel like a lose-lose scenario. No matter where you land, what you say, or how you say it, someone is going to be hurt or angry. Personally, I don’t want to hurt people. Most of the time I don’t want to make people angry. And honestly, I don’t want people leaving the community I pastor. Like I said, mostly fear.
But can I tell you something? I have reached a point where I am more afraid of what might happen if we don’t speak up. I am afraid of what might happen if the only discernable “Christian” voices on the issue continue to be those that make for the best television: the loudest, the angriest and the most polarizing.