pastoral ministry

You Might be a False Teacher

You might be a

This is the fifth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


Pastoral ministry is dangerous.

Being in front of a captive audience each week strokes the ego. Knowing that the majority of the people will believe what you say due to your authority as “pastor” can cause you to subtly build your own platform and diffuse your “majestic” ideas.

Combine this potential hazard with the unending pressure to increase attendance and giving numbers and it will create the perfect ministerial storm. Preaching will slowly drift from Gospel-centered proclamation to sharing helpful advice that is grounded in pop-psychology – this is where many churches find themselves today.

Jared Wilson makes this powerful observation about the role of Scripture in our preaching:
“Because the Bible is the only infallible authority over our lives, it is pastoral malpractice to treat it as a supporting document for our own good ideas. Our words ought to stand under Scripture, not vice-versa. When we come to the biblical text, it is meant to shape us; we are not to shape it. We are the ones to be malleable, not the Bible.”

I’m afraid that many pastors no longer tremble at the Word of God. Instead, we use it to proof-text our clever ideas in an attempt to generate an audience. Below is the main indicator that your preaching is driven by your creativity rather than Scripture.

You practice “Eisegesis” and call it relevance.

Now you are wondering how you practice something you have never heard of! When it comes to teaching the Bible, the proper way to preach is through exegesis. Exegesis literally means to “lead out of.” In other words, you allow the passage you are studying to determine the main point of your message. You seek to understand how the Spirit is speaking through His Word (this can be done in both topical preaching and verse-by-verse preaching).

Eisegesis is unbiblical, unhelpful, and ungodly. Eisegesis literally means to “lead into.” We practice eisegesis when we inject the poison of our opinions into the text and force the passage to bend to our meaning and will. We place ourselves in the position of God and twist Scripture to our own destruction (2 Peter 3:14-18).

For example, many pastors utilize Eisegesis when studying the narrative of David and Goliath. Rather than beginning in the text, the pastor will try to think of a giant that faces us as Christians – for example striving to have a good marriage. The pastor will then think of some “advice” on how to have a better marriage and package it as “Five Stones to Defeat Divorce.”

The pastor will then inject his meaning into the narrative by explaining that Goliath stands for the giant of divorce. He will continue to inject his meaning into the stones by labeling them:
1. Have a date night.
2. Express your love to each other.
3. Buy each other gifts.
4. (Helpful advice)
5. (Helpful advice)

The original text has absolutely nothing to do with marriage or defeating the giant of “divorce.” In an effort to generate an audience and appear relevant, the pastor will twist the text to meet his own agenda.

“But Tyler! All those things are good advice that Christians should practice!”

Good advice doesn’t save people, only the Gospel does that. Paul does not tell Timothy to preach good advice… he tells him to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)! In the last days, people will gather around them false teachers that will share all the “good advice” that their itching hears long to listen to (2 Timothy 4:3). Many pastors have fallen into this category without even realizing it!

It’s time for judgment to begin with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It’s time for judgment to begin with the leaders in the church. Those of us that teach are judged with greater strictness and will gave an account for every empty word; especially our words which twist the Scriptures to support our own agenda (James 3:1).

I long for the day that Christians in the Western world exercise the noble character of the Bereans:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

Don’t take my word for anything I say. Examine the Scriptures to see if it’s true. This goes for every pastor and teacher that shares from the Bible.


Why do you think so many pastors inject their opinions into the Bible when they preach? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know by leaving a comment! 

 

 

 

Three Vices of Ministry

Scripture

Ministry is exhausting yet rewarding; brutal yet satisfying; ugly yet beautiful.

Virtually every believer in Jesus Christ would agree with that statement. There is a false belief that one becomes a minister when he/she receives a spiritual title and job description. Contrary to this belief, Scripture teaches that all Christians are called to be ministers and priests – some have the privilege of working in paid ministry; others have the honor of doing ministry without a specific salary.

I believe there are many temptations in ministry; vocational ministry has specific vices that have historically plague the evangelical church. Below are three things that I have learned since I began vocational ministry. I am a Campus Pastor for The Rescue Church and have been responsible for launching The Rescue Church in Garretson, SD.


 

  1. Do NOT neglect your walk with Jesus for ministry.

This is arguably one of the largest temptations of vocational ministry. The vast majority of pastors do not read their Bible or pray outside of a church context. They spend hours studying Scripture in order to form a teaching and yet spend no time getting to know the author of the very Scriptures they are reading. Sadly, it is extremely easy to follow in the footsteps of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day – “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39)

If you are in a paid ministry position or are pursuing a specific calling, do NOT neglect personal time with Jesus. It is one thing to know the history, context, grammar, and language of the Bible. It is a much more satisfying experience to know the God who inspired the biblical text.

 

  1. Do NOT find your identity in ministry.

This was one of the biggest struggles I had when I began to work vocationally for The Rescue Church. Anytime that a person sets off to plant a church in a new community, discouragement and doubt will plague his/her mind. In the community that we are planting the church, there was a church plant before us that failed. Especially in the beginning months of planting the campus, I wrestled with thoughts of failure. Every pastor, whether they admit it or not, battle against these same thoughts.

We need to remember that our identity is not found in what we do, it is found in what Jesus has already done. Pastor, regardless of whether you fail or succeed, Jesus is still Lord and Savior. God has not called you to be a mega-church pastor; he has called you to be faithful. Everything that you need to go to the next level in your life and ministry, God has ALREADY provided. Be a faithful steward with what He has given you.

Do not let success or apparent failure drive you to narcissism or depression. Worship Jesus not your ministry.

 

  1. Do NOT sacrifice your family to ministry.

This is perhaps one of the biggest issues that pastors struggle with. In ancient times, people would sacrifice their children to false gods. Many pastors who are in vocational ministry are sacrificing their children and wives to the false god of ministry. Before you enter into vocational ministry, PLEASE identify your priorities. I am a husband before I am a pastor. The needs of my wife come before the needs of the church.

No pastor would say he is trying to sacrifice his family to ministry and yet it happens all the time. If you are a pastor, on behalf of your family, I urge you to examine your life. If you are gone every day and evening in order to be a “successful” pastor you may succeed in growing your church but you will fail in being a husband and father.

I promise you that your church can have a multitude of different pastors; your wife only gets one husband and your kids only get one father. Be willing to give up your job in vocational ministry if it means saving your marriage and family.

 

 


 

If you were to come up with a list of temptations in ministry, what would you place as the top three? Do you agree with me? Disagree with me? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!