Why I Don’t Expect Everyone in My Church to Agree with Everything I Say

"When I review what I preached ten years ago, I find I would change a lot of what I said. When I think about how I led ten years ago, if I could, I would tell my twenty-six-year-old self to change approaches. How can I get angry about dissenting views now when I don’t even agree with myself in the past?" - Rainer

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T Howard's picture

Sam Rainer wrote:
A pastor spends hours researching a sermon, then someone in the church challenges one of the main points. A pastor prays for months about a new vision, then someone in the church disagrees with the proposed direction. A pastor studies in seminary for years, then a person in the church takes issue with a doctrinal stance. Most pastors know these frustrations. While pastors should care deeply about preaching, doctrine, and vision, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to agree with everything you say.

I'm 47. I'm not smart enough to know everything or to have figured out everything theologically or practically. So, when a 26-year-old pastor, fresh out of seminary, communicates to his congregation that he's got it all figured out and that the church should follow his "new vision" for the church, I just have to smile and wave.

Why do young pastors think this way? Why do churches want guys like this leading them? I think one of the causes of the recent pastoral scandals is that we've substituted "vision casting" and "strong leadership" for biblical qualifications. If a guy gets easily frustrated because someone questions or challenges him, he shouldn't be a pastor. In fact, he should be encouraging his people to ask questions and speak up when they disagree (Acts 17:11)!

josh p's picture

Couldn't agree more Tom. If he can't handle being challenged without getting his feelings hurt he isn't ready for pastoral ministry. This is also where a plurality of elders helps a lot. I'm about to be ordained at my church alongside one pastor (who does most of the preaching) who has been there for 15 years and another who is 78 years old. He was born at the church and has been an elder through decades. I can't imagine the arrogance of a man coming into that situation with a "vision" for a 93 year old church that is at odds with the other elders (or more seriously God's word as often happens). Unfortunately that type of thing happens a lot. 

T Howard's picture

This is where guys misuse and abuse their pastoral authority. If someone disagrees or questions their preaching, their "vision," or their doctrinal position, they often pull out the Hebrews 13:17 card. To disagree with them or question them is to disobey or to not submit to their authority. Some will even claim that their "new vision" for the church came from God, so to disagree or question the vision is tantamount to questioning God.

Brothers, this is craziness. The fact that Sam Rainer felt it necessary to write this article indicates there is something wrong with the mindset of young men going into ministry. Who is teaching them this mindset?

Bert Perry's picture

My church lost a pastor, a deacon, and a head deacon pretty much on the same night because (IMO) of this phenomenon.  Both are in the grey hair batallion, so while it might be somewhat worse among the young, it's seen among the more "mature" as well.  More or less, we had some COVID-related issues where each had a strongly held position, and because the deacons didn't just instinctively follow what was being said.

Along the same lines, when I was part of a search committee for a new youth pastor, one of the things that bothered me a lot is that we were seeming to look more for people who 'had all the correct answers" than we were looking for someone who can think theologically.  I tried to remedy this by asking a couple of "how does this guy think on his feet?" questions, but with IMO limited success.

So my thought here is that to various degrees, we fundagelicals are confused about what things are essential and which are not--Jim Peet's comment on "everythingism" where every little point of doctrine becomes in effect a fundamental.  Hence we start to insist on agreement where there really is reasonable room for discussion, differing applications, and the like.

Long and short; we've got a cultural issue, stronger in some circles than others, in confusing truth with conformity.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

T Howard wrote:

. Who is teaching them this mindset?

I don't think anyone is teaching this. It's just a phenomenon of youth. Sometimes "youth" lasts a long time. (Because some people just never grow up.)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

T Howard's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
I don't think anyone is teaching this. It's just a phenomenon of youth. Sometimes "youth" lasts a long time. (Because some people just never grow up.)

Don, Luke 6:40 tells me otherwise. These men, who have sat under pastoral leadership and seminary profs for many years, are shaped for ministry by what they see, hear, and learn. There are a lot of pugnacious men in pulpits today because they sat under pugnacious pastors and developed their philosophy of leadership and ministry from these guys. Even within conservative evangelicalism, there is a certain ministry mindset that young guys learn from watching and listening to the big guys.

Case in point, in speaking with a pastor who used to serve at Kindred Community Church, he told me that when Philip De Courcy said, "jump!" the only question asked by his staff and even the elders was "how high?" That is the same mindset that this pastor brought with him to his new church. When people and the elders did not respond the same way to his leadership, he said it was because the people were unsubmissive and disobedient to Scripture.

Another big name, Mike Fabarez of Compass Bible Church, runs his church very similarly according to guys I've spoken to who used to serve on staff there. He's runs his church like a CEO. You don't question the CEO.

That's just scratching the surface. We know from our own IFB experience about preacher boys who leave places like Hyles-Anderson and the like.

My point here isn't to name drop but to point out that Luke 6:40 tells me that how young guys view pastoral ministry is significantly shaped by who they are trained by and what model of pastoral leadership they are taught. If your model of pastoral ministry sees questions and disagreement as bad, then you will develop a mindset like the one Sam addresses in his article. Unfortunately, this model does appeal to young guys because it gives tremendous authority and autonomy to a 26-year-old.

This is the model of pastoral ministry and mindset that has led to spectacular pastoral failure in recent years. The unquestionable, untouchable, and unaccountable pastor.

 

NOTE: By mentioning Philip and Mike by name, I am not seeking to question their character, just their pastoral leadership style.

Don Johnson's picture

Ok, yes to some extent this is -- maybe not "learned" -- but modeled and mimicked. 
 

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3