Church growth: It’s all about the pastor

  • Preacher with BibleCommon story: First ________Church gets a new minister – Pastor Joe. He’s not a very good communicator. People start leaving. Within two years attendance has dropped by half. Giving is down by a third. First Church descends into a malaise. Eventually Pastor Joe is fired and the search for his replacement begins.

    A year later First Church hires a new minister – Pastor Daniel. He’s a great communicator. The church immediately starts growing. Happy days are here again. People love Pastor Daniel.

    Why did this happen to First Church? Nothing else changed. The building remained the same. The worship times remained the same. The ministry programs remained the same. The key staff remained the same. The only thing that changed was the pastor. Yet First Church’s attendance and giving rose and fell in direct response to the quality of the preacher.

    Can I be brutally honest? When it comes to church attendance, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver good sermons. If a pastor is good at his job the church grows. If he’s bad at his job the church shrinks.

    Sounds unspiritual – but it’s true. It shouldn’t be this way – but it is. Each week is a referendum on the pastor’s ability to deliver an inspiring sermon.

    Admit it – you’ve gotten into the car with your spouse and begun critiquing the sermon before you’re out of the church parking lot. Or you’ve been asked, “How was church?” What do you talk about? The sermon. Let’s be real: Protestants judge the quality of a worship service largely by the power of the sermon to move them. Nothing else comes close.

    This is why the right minister can cause a church to sink or soar. I liken it to a football team: an NFL squad has 53 men, but the team’s fortunes rise and fall on the talents of one man – the quarterback. If he can deliver lots of touchdowns, the team wins. If he can’t, the team loses. Granted, the signal-caller must have good players around him, but as the Denver Broncos are seeing this year, a great QB means everything.

    The same is true with church attendance. When it comes to numbers, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver engaging sermons. Preaching is everything.

    It pains me to write these words. In an ideal world, what SHOULD matter is prayer, the presence of the Spirit, the love of the people for one another and the church’s ministry in the community. In that ideal world a church should be able to take out one preacher and install another without a hiccup.

    And while we’re at it, why does the size of a church even matter? Jesus would choose a church of 12 sold-out disciples over a church of 12,000 passive pew-sitters any day.

    We can argue these points until Christ returns, but this blog post is about attendance. Numbers. And when it comes to putting men in pews, nothing matters more than pastoral quality. Every other consideration pales in comparison.

    This wasn’t always the case.

    In medieval times there was only one church in a given area, or parish. If your parish priest offered boring homilies, you were stuck.

    After the Reformation, sermons became the centerpiece of Protestant worship, as they are today. Some preachers were interesting, and others were boring. But until the 1950s, that didn’t matter much. Christians were mostly loyal to their denominations. If you were born a Methodist you attended the Methodist church in your area. If pastor was a lousy preacher you endured it. You never even thought of going to another church because you were Methodist and that was that.

    Fast forward to today. Parishioners are no longer loyal to their denominations. Here’s my story: I was born and baptized Lutheran. As a young man I attended an Assemblies of God Sunday school. I came to know Christ in a Free Methodist Church. In college I joined a Baptist church, where I was married. I moved to Alaska and became a Presbyterian, and ten years ago I joined a non-denominational megachurch, which I still attend today (although I returned to a small Lutheran church this summer and loved it).

    This kind of religious switching would have been unusual a century ago, but today it’s common. People move to new cities. They have automobiles that will take them to a church (and a pastor) they connect with. People are less loyal to institutions.

    Because parishioners now have access to better preaching (live or through the media) they are less willing to put up with boring, rambling, irrelevant preaching. This has led modern congregants to evaluate their churches based on the sermon. They stay or go based on whether they “are being fed.” If the messages consistently lag, they seek out another church that offers them more.

    Many of you are seeing red by this point. “Today’s churchgoers are so shallow. They treat God’s holy church like a product to be consumed!” you may be thinking. And you’re right.

    But this is the reality in today’s world. People come to church expecting to receive something from God. If they don’t, they move on. Can we blame them? People came to Jesus – and they always received.

    Although we may condemn them as consumers, today’s parishioners choose a church with great care. The decision to leave a church is often a difficult one, fraught with emotion, doubt and uncertainty.

    I have a friend in Texas (let’s call him Roger) whose church planted “daughter church” in a nearby town. Roger and his family agreed to move to the daughter church to help it get started.

    This “church plant” started with much enthusiasm but quickly began to sputter. Attendance dropped by 75% as the fledgling congregation struggled with its music and preaching.

    Roger attended faithfully. He volunteered. He prayed. But the poor sermons exacted a toll on his walk with God. “Honestly, I wanted to be a good soldier and stick it out, but I finally had to be honest with myself – I was dying spiritually,” Roger said. “The worship was lifeless. The sermons just weren’t reaching me. In nine months I didn’t hear anything from the pulpit I hadn’t heard a thousand times.”

    Roger eventually made the painful decision to abandon the church plant and return to the mother church. “I felt like a traitor,” he said. “But I’m regularly hearing from God again back in my home church. I know I’m being selfish, but I go to church to meet with God. If that’s not happening what’s the sense in going?”

    Here are some questions for you to grapple with:

    • What do you think Roger should have done? Was his decision to abandon the church plant selfish, or is it more important to do the things that help us grow spiritually?
    • Why do we go to church? For our own benefit? For God’s benefit? For the benefit of others?
    • Should a believer persevere in a congregation that does not meet his needs “because it’s not about him?” If so, for how long? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades?
    • Should Christians be “self feeders” or should they expect to be fed Sunday morning?
    • Should churchgoers expect to hear something new at church, or should they be content to hear familiar truths they’ve long known?
    • Should believers “tough it out” in a church with lifeless preaching?
    • Churchgoers give up a lot of time to come to church. Should they expect a return-on-investment for their time?
    • Is it right for churchgoers to change congregations based on the quality of the preaching?
    • Should a church live or die on the preaching ability of its senior pastor?
    • If a Christian decides to leave a church, what’s the best way to go about it? Should he simply disappear? Or should he write a letter to the pastor explaining his reasons for resigning?

    I welcome your comments. And please share this blog by clicking on the share icons below.

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    November 14th, 2012 | David Murrow | 43 Comments |

About The Author

David Murrow

David Murrow is the director of Church for Men, an organization that helps congregations reach more men and boys. In his day job, David works as a television producer and writer. He's the author of four books. He lives in Alaska with his wife, three children, three grandchildren and a dachshund named Pepper.

  • Barbara Kennedy

    Interesting article, and considering we, as a church, just went through this very thing. My family, meaning my husband and our kids, actually left a church due to “improper doctrine” being taught in the pulpit. So the church we currently attend was and is the home we have been very happy at for almost 20 years. The senior pastor was just recently replaced, and in part it was for this reason. Attendance was down, and the giving was in the red. The interesting thing is I thought our pastor was and is a great speaker. But the numbers did hold out, for whatever reason. So now, new pastor, and growth has occurred. We are still in the red with the giving and that is partially due to the economy, I believe. The other question though was “why do we go to a certain church?” It is for family, community. I know when we had splits in our church, many people “jumped ship” because of the division. But I have always felt that until God calls me somewhere else, this is where I’m planted and this is where I will serve. Thank you for the article, very timely.

  • Andy Moore

    Where does the responsibility fall of those Christians that attend a church? The pastor is just one factor in the growth of a person but they are not even in the inner circle. Those two places are for Christ and the individual, are they not? I know I don’t go to church for anyone but for my relationship with Christ. I also do a wee bit more than just Sunday. I get involved with small groups and have my personal time set aside as well. I will agree that having a good pastor with solid sermons is a help but that is not 100% of the equation.

  • simon pudsey

    We visit a church local to my work (I spend more hours at work than I do at home so there is a logic in that). Our first visit included a sermon on Judah and Tamar and we agreed that we could really engage with a minister who could preach on that story. So much of our home life is invested in church that it really does count where we choose to worship, pray and develop community. We tried local. We really did; but it was so boring that I would not have continued with church in any way into the longer term. BTW Your DVD was great but a chap at our last church borrowed it and I’ve not seen it since… bah!

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Andy I agree that a pastor shouldn’t be 100 percent, but for many churchgoers he’s 90%. That’s just the way it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harveymitchelljr Harvey Mitchell Jr

    I agree with the basic premise of what your saying and enjoyed your article. I would argue though that there are churches that do a great job at developing community around and through their core group of people. I think some of the problems are when they are spending more of their time, energy, and money trying to grow their attendance instead of realizing that growing your core group of adherents is just as important. I have always heard of the 80/20 rule, but what if we could grow the 20% so we are offering community to more and more people instead of just saving them a seat???? Thanks for sharing this!

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Good points…as I said I don’t necessarily think our obsession with pastoral quality is a good thing, but it’s the way things are.

  • http://twitter.com/sean_conboy Sean Conboy

    As a Pastor I really enjoyed this post and the questions at the end. My daughter recently left the church she was attending in Philly because of the Pastor, not the church. He would show up 5 minutes before the service and it would always start 15 minutes late. She felt that she wasn’t being fed and that his lack of timeliness was also showing in his sermons. She felt as though he was unprepared and winging it sometimes. She called me and wanted my thoughts on what to do. When I asked why she wanted to leave she immediately said, “I don’t feel I’m being fed. I just don’t feeling like I’m growing.” On the other hand she was attending one of the small groups and felt that she was connected, engaged, and growing in her walk with Christ. My daughters decision isn’t one of being shallow but rather addressing a distraction and the perception of a lack of preparation. In answer to your question, ” If a Christian decides to leave a church, what’s the best way to go
    about it? Should he simply disappear? Or should he write a letter to the
    pastor explaining his reasons for resigning?” I instructed my daughter that she needed to let the Pastor know why she was leaving. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She really fretted about this for the rest of the week til Sunday came around again. The interesting thing is when she confronted the Pastor she also mentioned that she was being fed when she attended the small group and wanted to make sure it was ok with him if she still attend that group while she looked for a new church to attend. To his credit he was ok with this. In the end she needed to do the right thing and let the Pastor know her reasons.

  • Mark Burnham

    I found this a very interesting article. There is too much here to be able to respond to all of it. I was thinking about the life of Jesus. He faced consumers. Most of the crowds that followed him were consumers. What’s in it for me. People haven’t changed their nature since his time so most will continue to be consumers in our time.

    The Pastoral ministry is one of 5 gifts that have been given by God to equip his people to spread the Good News. The problem is that for too many people, Sunday morning is all they will give so it has to pack a punch. I don’t think that’s what God intended.
    How many of our wives would be satisfied with giving them our attention 1 day a week for 2, maybe 3 hours that one day? Mine wouldn’t. We are commanded to Love God with every part of our being as the First and Greatest commandment of God tells us. We think he will be satisfied with that 2-3 hour period (including the fighting in the car on the way to church.).

    This may be what the church has become, that doesn’t mean that’s what our God intended.

  • Wil Owens

    Thanks for this article. I know what it is to not only wander from church to church, but also to move from religion to religion. Thank God I was finally led to Christ. As a neophyte non-denominational minister, I aspire to some day lead a church and if a pastor keeps repeating the same sermon ad-naseum, I agree; folks will not return because they are not being fed. Teaching and preaching are equally important to the inner man’s heart, and if the pastor’s not reaching that heart; how can he be effective. I know and agree with you when you say that some folks may see red when reading this article. The legalists and zealots have a problem because they think that by just being in the house, the presence of God will always be upon them. Well…that ain’t true if there is no anointed one preaching. We had a saying back in the day “talking loud and saying nothing.” Truer words were never spoken. Thank you again, David Murrow.

  • http://joelzehring.wordpress.com/ Joel Zehring

    “when it comes to putting men in pews, nothing matters more than pastoral quality”

    I guess if you view church as a kind of spiritual sardine factory, this makes sense.

  • ansonheath

    A good sermon is a good beginning and deals primarily with numbers of membership. Often this just transfers members from one church to another, so what have we really accomplished?
    The real work of the church is in discipling, often confused with evangelizing, but rarely done in the church. “You preach a lot about Jesus, but how do we live and ‘leaven’ the world as instructed by Him?” (The kingdom of God is like a woman who took leaven…..)
    What did Jesus say in Matt. 28:18-20? Disciple all nations!
    They are not the same. Example: Our young people are evangelized in church once a week. They are discipled 5 days a week in our public schools. When they go off to college, they rarely come back – especially boys. They see no ‘mission’ for them.
    All of our major institutions are run by secular progressives, with little or no influence from Christians. Why? They disciple!
    So, this issue of sermons might almost be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I have read several articles by notable Christian authors who have asked the question: Why are Christians irrelevant? I say it is because the church is not carrying out the Great Commision.

  • Boaz

    In response to your final question, I’d say *before* someone decides to leave a church, he should talk to the pastor about what’s bothering him. Keep an open mind and gauge the improvement. Too often, we pastors find out after the decision has been made, and there’s no way to unharden the concrete. In the past 7 years, only 3 have left our church because of the preaching–and it was not out of boredom, but out of preference for popular theology over NT commands (repent, baptize, pray, stay married, etc.). Some have left because of marital problems, and one because she heard one too many Obama jokes (none from me) in the hallways of our right-leaning church.

  • disqus_ibaAhl415t

    It’s a shame Christians can’t just recognize their own spiritual gifts and determine where they are called to serve, rather than judging someone else’s gifts (or lack of it). I think most people who are serving in their God-given gifts would be filled with the spirit every week regardless of the preaching. That said, I think it should be more carefully weighed whether or not a Pastor interviewed actually has a calling to be a Pastor. I also think congregations need to more fervently pray for their Pastors.

  • roy valverde

    Thank you for your insight. Very enlightening.

  • TomIsAnchored

    The sermon is essential for numerical growth, but not exclusively essential. You’ve chosen the QB to illustrate your point (“a great QB is everything” equals “preaching is everything”). So, let’s include Heisman winner RGIII, a highly regarded field general on what’s still a lackluster Redskins team. Then there’s Nick Florence, RGIII’s replacement at his old college, Baylor. Florence would be much more respected if the Bears’ defense had been more competitive in the first half of the season. Apparently Florence being No. 1 in the nation in total offense isn’t translating into a stellar year for BU (5-5, 2-5 in conference as I write this). He who lives by the football illustration dies by it.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    As a Baylor graduate, your illustration definitely hits the mark with me.
    Florence is having a stellar year, yet it hasn’t translated into a winning season because the Bears have had no defense (until last Saturday!). In the same way, a great speaker will not attract a crowd if his music minister can’t carry a tune; if his church meets in a building with a leaky roof; if the church offers no children’s program.
    Just as a football teams needs great quarterbacking and a whole lot more, a church needs great preaching and a whole lot more. I’m simply saying that over time, sermon quality is probably the most important variable. I wish this were not so, but it’s the reality in today’s marketplace.

  • Jason C. Piecuch

    What kept me from Christianity for so long was the *cult of personality* types of Pastors that usually head very, very large suburban churches that I never felt welcome in. Numbers only matter. Decisions for Christ. Huge numbers! Lights, hipsters with tattoos! Flash! Look AT ME! LOOK AT ME!

    Usually when you boil it down to ACTION in faith, and belief. All image.

  • David

    My first questions:

    1) What was the “Bad preaching”? Bad theology? The pastor’s rants about politics? Rambling too long? Too many “How to” stories about getting your best life now? Cutesy topics with titles ripped off from Reality TV? Could it double as a lesser Chuck Swindoll with some need for growth, or an overglorifed Oprah that didn’t belong there in the first place? Is it a style and not the topic?

    2) What is the rest of the service? Music unrelated to the topic or season? A drama team throwing pop culture references around he won’t get? Is anyone on the music team old enough to be his friend, or are they all young enough to be his kids? Are the songs something you’d only hear on K-LOVE, or would he have known them 40 years ago in church (or both)? A music leader talking endlessly about the new worship song he wrote and wants the congregation to sing weekly? Or is it rather selfless, connecting him with others and the Lord? Is it reverent, even if very contemporary? Is it meant to grow disciples or to grow the church?

    I’m guessing I can figure out what he’s supposed to do by focusing on these two questions.

  • Pepdaddy

    Dave…Great article. This is a topic that keeps me up at nights. As a pastor of a growing church we know this is something we always have to deal with. I think the understanding of this is crucial to fighting that attitude in our churches. People may come for the preaching but they stay for community and dicipleship. I believe, People want to be apart of something that matters and a crowd won’t hang out for just good preaching. If there is great small groups, discipleship, and life transfomation than good preaching can help get people in the door and the Holy Spirit and Jesus can change their lives. I think this is a pretty common problem and instead of railing against it and ranting because its not right I think we need to accept it and use it to help people find Jesus to the glory of God.
    Keep up the great articles.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Thanks for your candor.

  • Anonymous

    I was *going* to disagree, but then I realized this is why I don’t attend the main service at my church anymore. I attend discussion-based Sunday school and Bible studies only. I dislike lecture formats and our senior pastor is boring anyway. Our church attendance declined for the first 10 years after he was hired (lots of competition in our area) and finally started increasing when a young pastor started handling the contemporary services. BTW, this is a church with a median age of 55, so even the elderly hate boring pastors.

  • preacherswife

    My husband is a pastor, so I found your article very interesting. The condition of the “church” in America is very complex these days, with wide ranges in the pew and the pulpit. I would like to make the following points though:
    1. You can fill the pews with plenty of people if you tell them what they want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
    2. Every pastor is compared to the Charles Swindolls and David Jeremiahs every week. My husband has resigned to the fact that there is always going to be a better “preacher” and it’s a battle that we will never win. That said, no one is going to stay at a church where the people are living blatantly hypocritical lives no matter how good the sermon is. The church grows on the pulpit AND the people.
    3. How do you preach to a congregation that has such a wide range of spiritual maturity? The new Christian won’t understand a whole lot. The well-studied saint gets bored easily unless you preach from the original languages…..and then there’s the totally unsaved church member who’s never going to understand any of it!
    4. Noah preached a long time too and didn’t get any more occupants on the Ark. Guess he just couldn’t deliver a well-polished sermon, huh???? So maybe it has to do with the condition of the hearer as well?

  • TruthvLIes

    Could it be something even more basic? In the New Testament, I don’t read of one single church inviting a “pastor” from another church to lead the church and to do the preaching and pay him a salary. In the New Testament, after the apostle/s who founded the church moved on, the church selected Elders from within its own congregation to be the oversight of the church. They were responsible for teaching and shepherding and they were not paid for the privilege.

    Now, if today’s church did the same thing, personalities would be irrelevant as everyone would have the responsibility of building up the Body of Christ and that means constant variety as it would be a case of “when you come together, EVERYONE HAS…..not just a pastor.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    I believe you’re describing the modern Mormon church.

  • TruthvLIes

    I do not understand why we should more fervently pray for the pastors. Jesus gave us five ministries, not one so why aren’t we praying fervently for our apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers as well.

    Perhaps it is because we choose to ignore the other ministries and have chosen to put all our begs in one ask it, which is contrary to the word of God.

    Any church that does this and expects “the pastor” to be the apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher as well is asking for trouble. It is the road to burnout, frustration and depression.

  • David Tortora

    I am a pastor and I find some of what you say very insightful and some of it missing some other valuable aspects. Certainly good preaching should be expected at church and is often that which the pastor gives most of his energy to. However, part of the flaw of your premise is that church is only seen as a one hour a week entertainment venue. Real church becomes a real community connection that impacts people through relationships and other meaningful inroads to the joys and sorrows of their lives.
    A neighboring church from mine had a wonderful loving pastor. He was a good organizer and delegator but it was somewhat of a common joke that he couldn’t preach his way out of a box. He stumbled over his words and rambled on often in ways that were way off topic. Yet his church grew to nearly 1,000 in 15 years. After he retired the board decided that his replacement would be the “best preacher they could find.” They indeed found a man who was an outstanding speaker with lots of charisma. However, he wasn’t much of a shepherd. The church shrunk to about 200 people over the next 3 years. Indeed it was all about the pastor, but not the preaching.
    I have also been acquainted with some strong and effective churches that did not have strong pulpits. People came because of good children’s or youth programs. I have noticed that people with kids will first ask at a new church,” What do you have for my kids?” They will put up with mediocre preaching and music if you have stellar ministries for their kids.
    But all this really leads me to note that people are too consumer oriented. Why can’t Roger, in your story, feed himself? Why is it the pastor’s job to determine your spiritual diet? Shouldn’t believers, like our children, at some point learn to feed themselves and then be able to feed others?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=71004959 Jace Longnecker

    I’d like to just give my opinion on each question, so I’ll number them. I am a missionary, although it shouldn’t really matter.

    1. Roger – was it really a church, or just a sermon-concert?
    2. Why go to church? We shouldn’t go to church, because the church is a family. I don’t go to family every Sunday. I am with family every Sunday. Church is a family, the body of Christ. The presence of God is with his body. I need that. God’s purposes in that are to have a people of his own, a bride for Jesus and a place where He can dwell.
    3. Should a believer persevere? No. If he isn’t loved by others within the church, he is not in/part of a church. The church is a family who loves each other.
    4. Self-feeders? We do need to come to the gathering needy…. needy for the Spirit to speak and fill us.
    5. We should expect new direction and orders from the Spirit in fleshing out the gospel in real life. We should also expect to find great meaning in the timeless truths.
    6. Preaching isn’t even shown to be the center of the gathering in the New Testament. The love feast or Lord’s supper is. The meal is about sharing with each other the glories of Christ.
    7. ROI on church time. Yes. If we are enriched by the word of God, by the living words of the Spirit, the presence of God, yes.. we should feel like we have an undeserved ROI.
    8. Preaching shouldn’t even be attempted by congregations, as it tends to shut out the “one-anothering” of prophesying, revelation, singing hymns and spiritual songs to one another and by one another. Monologues were given in the New Testament… to non-believers. Dialogues were with those who believed. After all the monologues we’ve given, I still find that so many believers believe insane, unscriptural beliefs. It’s just.. ineffective and outdated.
    9. If a church can die based on the preaching of a pastor, then yes, it should die. A church should no longer be defined as an audience+pastor gathering.
    10. If a Christian can disappear from a church without effect on others, then he isn’t part of that church to begin with. The ability to have anonymity in a church betrays the fact that it isn’t a real family.

    Thanks for reading! I appreciate the thoughts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=71004959 Jace Longnecker

    ansonheath says: “Our young people are evangelized in church once a week. They are discipled 5 days a week in our public schools. When they go off to college, they rarely come back – especially boys. They see no ‘mission’ for them.”

    Jace replies: Yep. I like to think that being a Christian is the most adventurous, dangerous, counter-culture, justice-enacting role one can be in. Not what I hear or see normally though. The Christianity that is sold now is cheap and shallow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=71004959 Jace Longnecker

    It might be helpful to search “one another” in biblegateway to get a picture of what he’s talking about. The New Testament church functions as all believers functioning. Elders do lead local churches in the NT with itinerant apostles (apostle means “sent one”, kind of a silly term for someone who would stay in one place). Mormons believe in .. an extra book, a false Americanized Christ and an organization completely dependent on a centralized hierarchy. NT church is more decentralized and dependent on the living Jesus as the head. Not touchy feely; following the living King.

  • richtfan

    David, this is so important in so many ways. I have a big problem with the “consumer” church because it is often treated as a spiritual ATM to which we make withdrawals when we get ready or needy. The consumer mentality quickly leads to the issue of using church as entertainment, which it most definitely is not and should not be used for.

    On the other hand, quality preaching is essential in my view. If the music is not good one Sunday or the sacraments just don’t move you one Sunday, at least a good sermon can help you regain your connection. When that goes south or stale, then you’re in for trouble. I know, from personal experience, that no minister can deliver a knockout sermon every Sunday. He would not be human if he did. However, the minister gets paid to preach and teach. If those two things are not happening or the connection between him and congregation is not being made, then there will be issues.

    One of the issues, to me, is that we too often accept preaching mediocrity. We don’t want to embarrass or hurt the feelings of the minster because he is a nice guy. Well, speaking the truth in love is essential. That may be the hardest thing in the entire gospel to accomplish.

    Let me make a distinction though…….I do not believe that the minster is everything. Worship has many different elements, each of which is important in its own way. But the bottom line is that the pastor gets paid money to preach and teach. it’s his vocation. as a congregant, I get paid nothing to be there. But I am a consumer. I need to be fed. The connection needs to be made consistently. This is the spark, along with the work of the holy spirit, that energizes ministry and outreach and gospel spreading. it all starts with the sermon in my view. When that isn’t present, there will be issues.

  • TruthvLIes

    Richtfan, can you show me in scripture where a person in the church is paid to preach and teach, particularly one brought in from outside the church? I have been looking for quite a while but as yet, no success.

  • richtfan

    there are lots of words that we use frequently today that did not exist during scriptural times. the word, trinity, didn’t exist. yet we believe in a father, a son and a Holy Spirit. I think it would be wrong to expect someone to preach as his vocation and yet not pay him. that’s called stealing. Expecting something for nothing is wrong. And giving nothing in exchange for something (a paycheck) is wrong as well.

  • TruthvLIes

    Richtfan, I didn’t ask for your opinion. I asked if you could show me scriptures to back up what you said. I take it that the fact that you can’t means there are none. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Ozy

    Regarding the work of a pastor as an elder, we are told a workman is worthy of his wages. Especially one that preaches the Word. Regarding outside candidates, perhaps that can be viewed as a matter of prayer for Gods will for that church,

  • TruthvLIes

    Sorry, you comments are not substantiated by the Word of God. Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in the NT does it talk about getting a preacher in form outside the church to run it.

    The only prayer in that regard is “Lord deliver us from man made concepts.”

  • Ozy

    And no where does it say that only someone from inside the church should run it to. Stop being silly. We take what we learn from the NT and apply simple clear principles.

    So, if Paul says it is good when someone wants to be an elder (understood as pastor these days); then they need to follow certain qualifications. No where in his lists on qualifications of elders do we see that someone needs to be from inside our outside the church. Their reputation however, should be known or investigated.

    I’m sorry, but you sound like a very opinionated and religious man.

  • TruthvLIes

    Judging by your post I would say Ozy that you are out of your depth so let me fill you in. Man may understand elder to be a pastor but it is not supported by scripture. The word for Elder is episkopos, which means superintendent. The word for shepherd (pastor in Latin) is poimen which means shepherd.

    Apart from the fact that they use different Greek words, one superintends, the other shepherds, they are quite different ministries.

    A requirement for an Elder is to be well thought of by those outside the church. If you bring someone in from outside, that can’t happen because the local people will not know him. Please note it is those outside the church, not outside the city.

    I have two volumes of church history in my library totaling 14 books in all. From my reading of them (and others) it is very evident that prior to the reformation, the church was roman catholic, built on the supremacy of priest and pope.

    Luther put a spanner in the works and as a result the non catholic church was born. Frank Viola has written an excellent book on the subject known as “Pagan Christianity.” In it he says that the protestant pastor is nothing more than a reformed catholic priest.

    In essence they are the same, just having a different name. If the catholic priest was the product of an apostate church, then the pastor who emulates the priest, could not be any better than the priest and a poor substitute for God appointed leadership which the church has chosen to ignore.

    In addition, there are 25 verses in the New Testament that speaks about leadership. In every case it includes Elders plural and in some cases the apostles and prophets.

    NOT ONCE does it mention pastors. Therefore, under the rules for exegesis we deduce that leadership of the church is primarily Elders and at times the apostles and prophets were involved At no time are the shepherds involved in leadership. That is scripture.

    In addition, in Titus Paul tells him to ordain Elders in every city. Not ordain pastors, but Elders. The word here for Elders is presbuteros. The word for pastor is poimen. If they were one and the same, why did Paul use different words? and if God wanted pastors (poimen) in charge, why did he say Elders (presbuteros) not pastors which he didn’t.

    Add to that the Greek word for Elder is senior or older. If Elder today is understood to mean pastor, why are so many young pastors appointed as in Jewish life on which the New Testament Church was founded bearing in mind that originally they were considered a sect of Judaism, known as “The Way” one is not considered an Elder until they are 40 years old so appointing a pastor younger than that is contrary to scripture apart from any other reason.

    As for your ungracious comment about me being opinionated and religious let me put you straight.

    About ten years ago, God told me that he wanted me to go into the wilderness for two years because I was too religious. I was not to attend any church during that time. It was not long before I realised that I filtered my thinking through religious experiences rather than the Word of God. By the time I came to the end of the two years, I was very unreligious and that caused me problems because people said I was not religious enough.

    As for being opinionated, I did a two year study of the New Testament Church. I started with the scriptures only, mainly in the Greek. Afterwards I started reading other books on the subject (over 40 of them).

    In nearly every case, they said that the leadership of the New Testament Church was a plurality of Elders chosen from within the fellowship, NOT pastors brought in from outside.

    If you consider that opinionated, then I must defer to 40 other authors who are opinionated.

    Now to put your accusation into context. I have a theological degree. What I learned according to you was from people who were opinionated because my lecturers told me what they knew and were not afraid to state their case. One of them was a converted Jew, who was according to you very opinionated as he had a unique understanding of the Old Testament and Jewish people.

  • Ozy

    Hello again. I like your exposition here – honestly. I appreciate you taking the time to write, if I had taken more time to write perhaps you would see things you can agree on too. What I find abrasive reading your posts (I’m sorry I was too), is you come across as “an expert of the law.” This is in many ways, “religious.” While much of what you share historically is accurate; it doesn’t mean that God is not behind the current western church culture. The Jewish culture was always influenced by outside cultures – both during the OT and NT (and in between) times. What if God intended things to be the way they are today? As long as souls are saved and disciples made; is all that matters to me.

  • TruthvLIes

    As a follow up, I would like to set your mind at rest about “seeing things.” When I was doing my two year study of the New Testament Church, I wrote to many leaders of denominations and put to them that some of their leadership practices were not biblical so could they expand on their ideas and I cited the scriptures as I saw it.

    This was not done to accuse. Rather as a fact finding mission. Without exceptions everyone of them said that what I said was right BUT…..and then they went on to justify non-biblical leadership.

    Straight from the horses mouth, I was shown how you sidestep the scriptures in favour of denominational dictates.

    Now, if they had shown me how their practices were backed up by scripture, then I would have embraced their way of doing things, but as they weren’t, to accept their version would have been to rubbish everything else I had learnt.

    I personally cannot see how God is behind Western church culture if it is contrary to his word as I read that he is committed to his word so that means he is not committed to anything contrary to his word.

    Again, research shows that the church in the USA is not getting people saved and making disciples. Current figures show that only 1% of churches are growing and many of these are by transfer growth, not by new converts.

    In addition, it is very difficult to make disciples if the life of the church revolves around a handful of people who are paid to do a job,

    We reproduce ourselves in every walk of life. if all we do is sit passively in the pew every week, we are not going to produce disciples.

    They produced disciples in the NTC because they met in small groups in homes, which in most cases could not hold more than 30 people. They rubbed shoulders with each other on a daily basis, not once a week looking at the back of people’s heads.

    The reason a child matures into an adult is the fact that they rub shoulders with their parents on a daily basis. Not once a week looking at the back of their heads whilst they watch TV.

    It is noticeable how many references there are to the church in scripture using the metaphor of a family. I wonder why?

    As far as coming across as an expert on the law, that is a perception of yours. I am not an expert on anything except in knowing Christ as that is my passion. I happen to believe that you cannot know Christ and ignore the Word of God.

    And I have been told many times that I never use two words where one will do so my writing tends to be brief and to the point without any arty farty explanations.

    Which can be interpreted as being dogmatic. However, dogmatism is not my forte as I have two cats.

  • TruthvLIes

    A good point David. In actual fact I do feed myself as I cannot get excited about all the trite explanations of scripture given from the pulpit and the fact that most sermons are about tickling people’s ears, not weeding out the true from the false and as a result very few disciples are being produced.

    Apart from the bible, I read about 20 books a year to focus my study on specific topics that are relevant to society today and that help me to understand God’s word in its entirety, not a verse here or a verse there.

    Mind you, I don’t talk about what I am learning, especially to pastors as they tend to get a bit uppity if you say something that challenges their status quo.

  • Bill Reddin

    David, you said, “It pains me to write these words. In an ideal world, what SHOULD matter is prayer, the presence of the Spirit, the love of the people for one another and the church’s ministry in the community…” I would like to suggest that worship is THEE most important reason for doing church. I believe that we have forgotten how to worship, what it is and what it is for. We should not confuse preaching with worship. We protestants have been guilty of doing that for years. Sure, if a worship service is going to include preaching, it needs to be a quality event. But so must all aspects of communal worship. Congregations need to focus more on producing truly meaningful worship. When they do, the preaching will cease to be the (only) reason they go to church. We humans were created for worship. Worship is foundational to all our relationships, mission and theology.

    So, lets rediscover the true nature/meaning/practice of worship, and lets have men discovering what it means for men (specifically) to lead worship, for in that they will find their purpose and locus in all leadership… Worship is the key.

  • http://www.churchformen.com/ David Murrow

    Is worship really the most important thing? Is it the primary thing God desires from us?

  • Bill Reddin

    It’s what I am looking at currently. I think it is foundational to all that God desires from us. But what is the guts of worship? And does it relate to authentic masculinity and leadership? Currently exploring this stuff.