“Pastor, I just got off the phone with Jim and he said that he wasn’t going to come to church on Sunday because he is going to a party on Saturday night. You need to preach about commitment and the importance of church.” As a pastor, this is actually a conversation I have had…well some small details were changed to protect the innocent, and to keep the guilty from getting mad.
This short conversation brings up a great set of questions. Should the pastor choose sermon topics based on what he/ she finds irritating? Admittedly, it does irritate pastors when the subject they give their lives for is given a very low priority to other people. This is true in all other “industries” as well though. I may not be a fan of animals, but there are people in this world who dedicate their lives to fighting animal cruelty and pet adoption. Also, should pastors be the spiritual police of their congregations?
Many people have the view that pastors preach based on the counseling sessions or conflicts they have had with members earlier that week…or it could be a passive-aggressive way of calling someone out on their behavior (that’s what blogs are for). The art of proclamation of the gospel is far too valuable for actions such as this.
Pastors do not (should not) use the pulpit as a time of corporate police action or venting about irritation. A pastor should not be looked at as the “King/ Queen of the church” and preaching, their decrees. Pastors, who are called by God to proclaim the Gospel, are to teach Christ crucified, and every known variation of that subject and its implications. The pastor can never run out of material with this as their guide.
Now, pastors are called to address cultural issues and lead people in the direction of abundant life…but we are not the gatekeepers of salvation.
Far too many pastors are looked at as spiritual dictators. We live for Christ…because He died for us. We don’t toe the line so that we stay in the pastor’s good graces.