Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

10 Pastors I’m Concerned About

[Updated on June 17, 2016 & February 19, 2017]

It’s not a secret the church has been in decline for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. You can read some statistics and views on why, here and here and here. Everyone has their opinions.

Abuse, apostasy, and irrelevance are just a few of the words that keep coming up in the search for reasons for the decline. There are a variety of compelling opinions and I even have a few of my own.

But I suggest there is another area of decline more significant and perhaps much less obvious—and one that certainly contributes to the church’s decline in North America.

I think its likely a careful analysis would implicate modern church leadership for this more significant issue.

In other words, I’m concerned about the decline of authentic pastoral care and its effect on the decline of the church overall.

By saying so, I’m not suggesting this pastor has it all together. Nor am I trying to cultivate (or ratify) some dishonest skeptics’ contempt for the church. Rather, I’m hoping to raise these concerns to offer some biblical perspective on authentic pastoral care.

Before I begin, I’m not claiming to be the expert in all church issues, but I have served in various pastoral roles for more than twenty years and feel I can offer some measure of insight about the issue.

So in an effort to pursue this conversation in a healthy way, here are 10 pastors I’m concerned about.

  1. I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.
  2. I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology. Sure topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation. But to pique the interest of the unchurched, church-growth advocates have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.
  3. I’m concerned about the pastor who is a chief executive instead of a contemplative sage. The pastor is called to a contemplative life of prayer and study of the word (Acts 6:4 cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). From that life his ministry flows to the church. The pastor was never called to be a rock-star communicator or bench-mark business leader. He was called to model redemption and shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4 cf. Acts 20:28). Perhaps those serious about pastoral care should consider putting away the John Maxwell and Nelson Searcy books and pick up the Bible and the church fathers again.
  4. I’m concerned about the pastor who uses the pulpit to milk members instead of minister to the saints. It was the angry atheist, Richard Dawkins, who asked Ted Haggard (back in the day) why he needed a multi-million dollar sound system that paralleled that of MTV to teach people about God. I think that’s a question that deserves an answer. Why do pastors need to build bigger and better on the backs of God’s people? I think the answer may be rooted in the human heart. Francis Chan seemed to have caught that vision when he was still pastor in Simi Valley. And if we think we need to build bigger barns, perhaps we should pray about church planting as a viable alternative.
  5. I’m concerned about the pastor who makes growing the church the goal instead of glorifying God the goal. There is no biblical mandate for growing the church. Sure there is one for propagating the gospel and making disciples. But the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. There is nothing in Scripture, except pride, that drives pastors to drive the flocks they are supposed to be tending. This is the very opposite of pastoral care.
  6. I’m concerned about the pastor who builds his ministry with people instead of building people by his ministry. It seems I’ve said this already, just differently. But here I’m speaking to a philosophy that often underlies many of the abuses in the church. For example, a well-known mega-church pastor once advised me to think of people in seven-year terms. He explained that people generally burn out after seven years. And if I wanted to build a big ministry for God, I would need to leverage those seven years. Funny, I don’t recall God asking pastors to leverage his people for the pastor’s dream of building a big church for God.
  7. I’m concerned about the pastor who cultivates a culture of dependency on himself instead of cultivating a culture of community within the church. Of course, I’m not denying spiritual dependency on Christ is biblical. But the pastor is not the people’s savior. He’s a just man who will burn out and fail himself given enough time and responsibility. Christians should be taught to depend on Jesus as our Savior, the church as our sanctifying community, the Bible as our word from God, and the Spirit as our parakletos.
  8. I’m concerned about the pastor who reads and teaches the Bible literally instead of literarily. This in no way suggests the Bible is any less God’s word. It is to say the Bible is literature, divine literature to be sure, but literature nonetheless. That means it needs to be read and understood as God’s word to us (or for us) in the context of its literary genre. Not all the Bible is prescriptive; and none of it was written to be used as a random list of verses cherry-picked capriciously to beat people up or defend our personal ideas and beliefs. The Bible is the holy canon which reveals God to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Pastors who mishandle God’s word are extremely dangerous and will not offer appropriate pastoral care.
  9. I’m concerned about the pastor who contributes to the culture of consumerism instead of combating idolatry. Pastors who pander to the consumerism in the church are no different than parents who give their kids everything they want to keep them from throwing a fit or to get them to reciprocate love. Christianity isn’t a smorgasbord where people get to pick and choose what they like or don’t. It’s a community of believers on a journey and mission of faith who live in communitas with others for the glory of God, the blessing of his people, and the advancement of his kingdom.
  10. I’m concerned about the pastor who sees the church as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as a custodian of Christ’s kingdom. Certainly, God moves people. And certainly pastors have a right to pursue other ventures as the Lord leads and gives liberty. But the church is the primary agent for the stewardship of the gospel and the redemption of the cosmos. It’s the integral institution for advancing Christ’s kingdom and for shaping culture and society. It’s not God’s second-hand agency. It’s not his “Plan B.” Jesus died for the church and it is significant.

There you have it: 10 of my concerns about pastors. If you’re concerned about biblical pastoral care, I hope this helps raise good questions we can ask.

If you have concerns of your own, please share them in the comments. If you’d like to have my daily devotional readings delivered to your inbox free each morning, sign up for Crumbs from our Master’s Table (launches July 1st).

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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he’ll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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Comments Policy: Comments that are relevant and add value to the conversation are encouraged, even if they express disagreement with the topic or the writer. All comments must be free from gross profanity, or otherwise distasteful language (at moderator’s discretion), and accompanied by a valid first name and email address (all anonymous comments are blocked).

439 Replies

  1. Paul

    As a Southern Baptist, I see this behavior in the mega-churches. When it comes down to conventions, they boast about numbers when they do not realize they are exposing that they are not about shaping relationships within the church. One such mega-church pastor claimed to have known only 5 percent of his congregation, has been interviewed by Kirk Cameron, and guides his church to give to a local foster group home. The foster group home is actually a part of a million-dollar corporation and could fund itself if it wanted to. Not to mention, with only knowing 5 percent, the accountability is destitute. He fit the bill of the first four statements in this article. I found out that their donations, which also go to the foster kid’s allowance, had been used for purchasing marijuana. My son, who was taken from me and placed at this foster group home, is now addicted to marijuana has been in substance abuse counseling for over 2 years. I was exonerated from the charges this year, which means it was unnecessary to take my son from me, yet this pastor has contributed to my son’s delinquency and no one holds him accountable. Please correct me if I am wrong, but this turns a lack of accountability and caring for the church into false prophecy as he has allowed money in the name of Christ to be used for developing sinful behaviors. Please pray for my son and our family.

  2. Randy

    I am concerned about pastors that feel like they are on an Island all alone. When the “sin” they feel they have no one to go to because they are in fear of loosing their job. That pastor in essence, was me.

  3. Stephen

    I think these are important observations, but I am afraid you are mistaken when you think that personal disciple making is more important than organizational leadership when it comes to church growth and health. Churches are failing because they lack leaders with the ability to identify, train, and release more leaders. I meet pastors everyday who can make disciples, heck, any Christian can do that. But when the disciple making is not focused on developing leaders, the efforts of the discipler are not multiplied. As a result your sphere of influence is too small, you can’t generate enough donations to work full-time, thus reducing your impact even more as it forces you to become bi-vocational and have less time to disciple. A little bit of strategy could go a long ways toward getting churches back on track.

    1. Danz

      Stephen, are we growing people, or growing a business? I’m not trying to be nasty. Just wondering…

  4. Layo

    I am concerned about the pastor who is a motivational speaker.

  5. Janet

    I wish we could use a different word for the ‘building’ believers meet in and the actually believers of Jesus Christ, both being called ‘Church’. I find this as a confusion factor to many Christians. Since people are the church, it is important that we make clear the difference between a pastor that is building ‘The Church’ or ‘a church’. My experience has been that too many men are doing the same thing in the Body of Christ that they would do in the world of business. Building bigger buildings by controlling and manipulating and condemning The Church into an earthly, materialistic view of ministry. I agree with this article, just wish this term was more clearly defined. A recent article I read estimated that 16-20 million Christians have left the building known as the church. They have not left their faith in Jesus, just fed up with the system. You hit on key issues that could be the heart of this phenomenon.

  6. I am concerned about pastors who put their denominational traditions above the true meaning of Scripture – the Bible – and call it truth.

  7. Kayla

    And what does the word of God say? The LORD spoke his word to me, saying: “Human, prophesy against the leaders of Israel, who are like shepherds. Prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: How terrible it will be for the shepherds of Israel who feed only themselves! Why don’t the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the milk curds, and you clothe yourselves with the wool. You kill the fat sheep, but you do not feed the flock. You have not made the weak strong. You have not healed the sick or put bandages on those that were hurt. You have not brought back those who strayed away or searched for the lost. But you have ruled the sheep with cruel force. The sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for every wild animal. My flock wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered all over the face of the earth, and no one searched or looked for them. “ ‘So, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Lord GOD says: As surely as I live, my flock has been caught and eaten by all the wild animals, because the flock has no shepherd. The shepherds did not search for my flock. No, they fed themselves instead of my flock. So, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Lord GOD says: I am against the shepherds. I will blame them for what has happened to my sheep and will not let them tend the flock anymore. Then the shepherds will stop feeding themselves, and I will take my flock from their mouths so they will no longer be their food. (‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34‬:‭1-10‬ NCV) In Ezekiel 34 God is not pleased with the shepherds for good reason. We see shepherds conducting themselves selfishly. Help us all.

  8. bessie torian

    Jesus says that God is Spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. We may be Biblical scholars, but if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit, all that we do will come out as self-serving. Truth is, we, as members of the Body of Christ, should study the Word for ourselves. When we know the Word for ourselves, we will not be misled by those who are deceived by their own devilishly selfish agendas. Let’s note that after Jesus had been resurrected, on one occasion He revealed Himself to His disciples. There He instructed Peter to “Feed My sheep.” Jesus asked Peter to do this feeding of His sheep three times. Jesus never suggested to Peter that Peter leads His sheep, but only that Peter feeds His sheep. The reason Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep was because Jesus knew that once the sheep were fed the Word of God, the Word would LEAD them. We should not look for pastors to lead us, the sheep. When we accept Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Truth of God’s Word will do the leading. Jesus never relinquished His Role as the Good Shepherd. Pastors just need to be mindful of what the Word says in 2nd Peter 5: 2- 3; “Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” The Word of God is invincible, and no matter what man does, the Word will fulfill all that God, our Father in heaven, sent Him to do. There is nothing but fruitful sustenance in the Word of God, and the church will not stand before Christ in an anorexic state. But, what will happen is… when the church is taken out, the world will be void of true believers, and all hell shall break loose because of the wrath of God. Those who are left here are unbelievers and the lukewarm members who have been fed by worldly, lukewarm pastors. These pastors will have to stand before those once lukewarm, but now angry members who want to know, literally, what in hell is going on. What is actually happening with the pastors in the church today is that they, themselves, are void of the Power of the Hold Spirit, and as such, they have no boldness to stand upon the Word of God whereby they may be able to thwart the wiles of the devil. All i can say to those lukewarm pastors is… one day God shall spew you out of His mouth. Shame on you! Get right church, and let’s go home… through the Righteousness sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

  9. An extremely thoughtful post. This makes me appreciate the ministry of our pastoral staff even more! They are people of integrity who follow hard after God and continually encourage the congregation to do the same. We’re challenged without being bludgeoned and encouraged without being pandered to. In my early years I was part a church that taught almost nothing from Scripture and later, part of a very unhealthy and controlling church with a pastor who used and literally abused members of the congregation. So I’ve seen a few sides of this issue and agree with your views.

  10. Trinity

    We just left a church where the Pastor did all ten of these things. In fact I was on staff and when I kept questioning whether this is what a church (pastor) should do and be about (money, greed, fame) I was told if I can’t follow him (the pastor) then I (and my family) should just be quiet an leave. Sadly, these types of pastors are manipulative and have the congregations believing that what they are doing is what “God” has told them to do. The people follow them like sheep, not realizing that their leader will sacrifice them before he will ever sacrifice himself. Thank you for the post, I could not have articulated this truth as well.

  11. A. David Griffin

    Really was encouraged by these observations and how you made them relevant and cogent to today. I particularly appreciated your reference to “communitas”.

    1. Lisa

      I don’t know what it means. Is it latin or spanish? Is it there to include the reader or exclude? You could create a link so the illiterate like me can still join in. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

      1. Lisa, communitas is a Latin noun that, in essence, refers to the spirit of community. It is a term in church life that refers to the transformation that occurs that gels the community through their shared liminality and common mission. e.g. the early disciples who followed Jesus.

        1. Ricardo williams

          Scott I’m so glad you post this. It is in the back of the mind of most believers who are looking for authentic leaders. In my opinion pastors should focus on doing God’s work and let the church handle the financial side of things in that way they can be blameless. I find many pastors afraid of operating in the faith that they ask their congregation to operate in.

  12. Jan

    Loved this post! Christians have many gifts (1Cor12, Rom12, Eph4), but many of us through ignorance and/or apathy give pastors the burden of doing everything in and for the church, criticize them for disappointing outcomes, while doing nothing to help the mission or the unity of the church. That said, each Christian must repent, do one’s part, pray for each other, especially pastors, and tell the truth in LOVE, not being contentious or slanderous.
    “(God) saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” Ps105.15
    “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Heb13.7

    I think John5.39-40 and Luke24.25-27, and John20.30-31 speak definitively to the literal nature of Scripture as well as its purpose.
    “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John5.39-40
    “And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke24.25-27
    “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John20.30-31


  13. Ghughes

    I am concerned about the churches that are still teaching the taught, reaching the reached, and preaching to the preached. Instead of “going ye therefore” and reaching the lost souls.

  14. barbara allen

    At North Decatur Presbyterian Church recently, the pastor said: The end of church is not church. It’s a loving community

  15. Ed

    The Infinite Lightforce Wisdom of the Word of God in the Holy Spirit is revealed by Christ Jesus and is exposed because of darkness. A well calculated post to expose the truth. Absent of any evil intentions to demean women, the pronoun “he” used was correct in representing either male/female. After all women, came from men 🙂 Ladies becareful that the men don’t take back their rib in the flesh.

    In sum, “Verity of truth is truly and is indeed that which always reveals itself like forgotten planted seeds in ways challenging to the collective understanding of humanity.” –Ed C J

    As revealed…

    Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah, Lord in Spirit and in Truth

    1. Very legitimate concerns which all committed Christians should seriously consider. One modest suggestion: for #8, I’d suggest “literalistically instead of literally.” A literal reading of Scripture will account for genre and context, as I’ve noted in my book, “An Introduction to Bibliology: What Every Christian Should Know…”

      1. Kevin Miller

        I agree with Mr. Breshears modest tweak of number 8. The post is a timely one. Thank you!

  16. Pamela A. Rickey

    Very thoughtful article and one that even those of us who are not pastors should take to heart. My one concern, however, is the part about literacy. I agree about not cherry picking verses, and there are passages we know to be parables–stories used to teach rather than actual events. But, overall, are you saying we should not take the miracles and events laid out in the Bible literally? In that case, how do you pick and choose what is “literal” and what is “literature?” I need clarification, please.

    1. Jess

      I was actually going to say I think this is the biggest problem. What is meant here is that some pastors don’t “study” the Bible, they just “read” the Bible as they see it. Some don’t even know how the Bible is made because they’re too afraid to study it. You have to study the translations, culture of their time; many aspects into what was written to get a better understanding of what was meant. There really is no verse you should use, especially to condemn someone, without study all of these things; you can’t just read it plain English and know what it meant. It’s funny because during “Bible study,” there are still so many churches that think just reading the Bible is considered studying the Bible. That’s just reading it.

      These type of pastors typically “Bible bash,” they use the Bible literally out of context to tell people what is right and wrong. This hits home for me because my old pastor pushed me away from the church because I read deeper into Bible meanings. He basically told me I was going to hell because of the way I thought. He even deleted me off Facebook when he used to be one of my best friends. I have gone to realize, many of my 20 something year old friends are experiencing the same thing. Even though we haven’t been around each other, I see it happening that our pastor is pushing them away, telling them that they think wrong. He accuses us of not believing the Bible is the word of God because we simply try to study the verses actual meaning instead of reading it black and white.

      It’s not just my old pastor either. I’ve tried many new churches and I can pretty much tell right away if the pastor “studies” the Bible or “reads” the Bible. When all I want to do is just love people. I believe we are here on this earth to learn to love. I believe that is what God meant as his ultimate purpose. It’s so hard to find a church that I can tell that the pastor studies the Bible.

      I hope you understand where I’m coming from because many people that don’t study the Bible, don’t listen when I say this.

      God Bless

      1. Nita

        Good comments. Pastors would be out of a job, if it were not for the folks in the pews. Sheep are to be loved, and encouraged. Small churches make converts, and often ‘loose’ their converts to larger groups, with more going on. I have seen this often. I thank God for the small, closely knit congregations.

      2. B. Alexander

        I agree with you that the greatest command is to love others, yet that does not encompass the entirety of our mission as the body of Christ. The truth is that it may be your personal ministry, because loving people does not always lead to “fruit,” which for us would be disciples. As believers and members of the body of Christ, we should definitely be more loving and a lot less judgmental than we are now. Fully agreed.

    2. B. Alexander

      The Bible is written to be read on several different levels, the same way the parables were to be taken. If you take the Bible at surface level…you have simply read it for plot and context, but it requires the Holy Spirit to interpret and reveal the Truth and depth of the Word…preachers must preach from the “deep places” of the Word, not simply give a book report of what any of us could have read on the surface of the text, which is exactly what Jess was referring to.

  17. Pst F . M. Derek

    The article is good. If we judged ourselves we will not be judge. 1 Corinthians11:31. The church need this article, because most of its leaders are far from the cause of the church which is the great commission not big cathedrals.

  18. Donna Rogers

    This post was about pastors. After reading the comments I was surprised that many choose to judge the post instead of think about the content. We all know that pastors aren’t to blame for every problem in the church. We are the church, so if there is a problem, then we need to seek God for an answer and listen when He sends one. All of us. I am not just a church goer. I truly want to be changed by God to conform to His image. The message of this post is a valid one even if it seems to some to be critical. If I am missing the mark God has set for me, please love me enough to be critical. I need to change and I pray for a heart to accept any change God in line with His holy Word would like to make.

  19. A Pastor

    I am concerned about “men” and “women” that are concerned about tearing pastors down, enjoying their online rants, and creating a following of “Pastor Judges”, and neither the author nor one of these replies even nearly suggested even a hint of praying for these men or women whom God has placed in these positions.

    1Th 5:25
    25 Brethren, pray for us.

    -Pastors would rather have our prayers…Not our opinions.

    Rom 13:1-2
    1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
    2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    -We may want to be careful about what we call “healthy discussion”…we may plant a seed that could grow into rebellion in many churches…thus causing more of a falling away that so deeply concerns us all.

    1Sa 26:23 NIV
    23 The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed.

    -Even David knew better…

    Pro 17:9 NIV
    9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

    -How can we be sure that our words and discussions will cause a sheep to be torn from their shepherd or church family…Unnecessarily.

    Mat 18:15-17 NIV
    15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    -Jesus commands us to talk to them…not about them. Please pray for these men and women, if we will not talk to them.

    God’s Blessing to you all.

    1. Brendan

      Romans 13 has nothing to do with church leadership. It’s explicitly about legal government

      1. A Pastor

        Thank you for your comment, but what happened to Miriam when she spoke against Moses whom God had called to Shepherd over the nation of Israel in Numbers 12?

        1. Bethany

          Miriam and Moses were in the Old Testament, which was the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant. Brendan is correct.

          1. Nelle

            Bethany – What from the OT is useful if the new covenant wipes out all of the OT? Just curious.

            1. Bethany

              God spoke directly to Moses and Miriam opposed that. We’re not under the Mosaic law from the OT but we are to follow Christ’s commands in the NT. Christ fulfilled the law and we are now under grace. However, some of Christ’s commands in the NT are even stricter than the law. Numbers 12 doesn’t mean that we should not question what a pastor teaches, but we need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17, searching the Scriptures ourselves and not just blindly accepting what a pastor says.

              1. DC

                Bethany, just to be clear, the “scriptures” that the Bereans searched were from the Old Testament.

      2. Wesley Forbes

        Actually, it’s not, exactly. Here’s a great analysis of the pertinent passages. Earthly institutions are composed of wicked, sinful men who are at war with God. Governments are not approved by God but rather recognized for what they are. As Christians, we’re basically to put up with them, to an extent, though the Bible does not proscribe changing them. Frankly, I see anarcho-capitalism far more consistent with Christ’s teaching than anything else.

    2. A L WALTERS

      The mandate God has given His Church comprises true worship of God, being witnesses/ sharers of the Word, and being disciple makers – loving and caring in the body of Christ.

      Would “A Pastor” agree with this?

      The 10 concerns run contrary to the mandate and are therefore valid concerns. They are very relevant for consideration and for appropriate responses that will effect change. Espousing them as Scott Postma has, provides an avenue especially for pastors to become aware of issues that need to be addressed. Scott postma cannot go to every pastor in person, he goes to them by this medium. It could be considered a way of ‘intreating’ the elder as a father’ though he is ‘an elder’ or leader himself (1 Tim. 5:1). How we respond to the concerns is what will make the difference.

      True, some may use it to bash pastors (and Scott declared initially that he may not have it all together) but responses show that people genuinely search for churches that are carrying out the mandate God gives us. They are not satisfied with the current state of affairs in the church.they are searching for the place where the mandate is being carried out.

      God is seeking the church where his mandate ids being carried out. We need to get back to that place.

      I pray God will help us so to do.

    3. cheryl

      These are his concerns. I don’t see where it is a negative thing. I do believe that the truth is the truth and “pastors” should not be offended by one’s concern.

      1. Bethany

        Exactly. Any pastor should welcome questioning and scrutiny, which needs to be done lovingly.

    4. Nita

      Romans 13:6—clarifies, that the author of Romans is talking about the authority of the government, not the authority of the pastors/churches etc. Christians cannot make their own laws, for instance, about how to drive, or how to pay taxes. Paul didn’t want the Christians of his day, to live apart from the people they were trying to convert. This chapter is often misused by pastors who want authority.

    5. Elesha Williams

      This post doesn’t put pastors down. It actually gives insight about real issues churches are increasingly facing today. We can’t be afraid to hear ugly truths concerning the church. Instead of considering them yo be slanderous, let’s pray for the answers individually and collectively. God bless!

    6. DC

      Well said, A Pastor. I think that people fear bringing a disagreement to any single person anymore. It is easier to send it out into the internet and hope that somehow it comes back to teach the person a lesson rather than being personal, specific, and adhering to the Word of God. I have often considered almost every one of the 10 listed issues (though I will say that #8 not only requires a lot more explanation, but some scriptural support as well before I’ll say Amen to it) I don’t think an article of this nature should be opened up to the public like some fire-and-forget missile that can do damage that can’t be calculated when launched.

  20. Julie

    I’m concerned about the continual use of “he” and “his” when referring to the Pastor.

    1. Bethany

      Why? A pastor is supposed to be a man.

      1. PastorMissy

        Wrong. A pastor is the person called by God to be the teacher & leader of the people, be this person male or female.

        1. Wesley Forbes

          PastorMissy, what about the passages that state the qualifications of overseers, pastors, elders, etc.?

  21. Chris

    In point number 9 he writes “Christianity isn’t a smorgasbord where people get to pick and choose what they like or don’t.” Apparently he somehow forgot that that is why there are tens of thousands of different denominations.

    1. Nita

      I agree. No one ‘has a corner on God’. We all have needs that are met by God, and we all are Blessed to have them met. Our experiences should not be forced on others, to say, “If your experience is not exactly like mine, it is not authentic”. I wonder what God thinks, when another ”denomination’ is registered?

  22. I would add pastors who bring politics into the church. They embrace political parties as being “Christian” and push their followers to support politicians agendas. They see themselves as kingmakers as they focus on Washington D.C. rather than their own congregations. In doing so they drive millions away from church while they weaken politics and faith at the same time.

    1. teachwi

      Additionally, a church whose pastor preaches politics should be paying taxes.

      1. Artus

        So politics is an exception to the “every thought” in 2 Cor. 10:5? We apply Scripture to “all” areas of life…except politics? And every pastor who applies Scripture to politics should pay taxes? Where is that in Scripture…or are we neither sola scriptura nor tota scriptura anymore?

  23. Doug

    BOOM ! Roasted ! Spot on…as Paul ( paraphrasing ) said, “what the Lord thinks of my words and actions is THE only opinion that matters”…There are upright pastors and I’m for’em…it just seems so hard to stay upright. Being a Christian ain’t all candy-n-nuts…for those that may not my use of the word “ain’t”, that’s ok…cause it ain’t gonna matter 😉

  24. Kimber

    11. The failure to recognize females as clergy. Inclusive language is important on multiple levels, but especially for the Church, where God calls both women and men to the ordained ministry. Feminism has nothing to do with using inclusive language, instead using inclusive language is a sign of respect – a female does not want, nor does she deserve to be referred to as he, and a male clergy does not want, nor deserve to be referred to as she….

    1. Sellica Hightower

      Absolutely. Spot on. Being excluded creates a sense of irrelevance. Why engage with an institution which excludes, most especially when It does not mirror Jesus’ inclusivity? What Jesus taught was relevant because it addressed the human soul and bypassed exclusivity and social constructs of the day.

    2. Jeremy Crenshaw

      Actually, using inclusive language instead of saying he/his/him is directly related to feminism because it is a new phenomenon. The English language has always placed the masculine form in when using a general reference. It is only with the advent of modern feminism that this has been challenged. In addition, most are not attempting to be exclusive by using masculine terms when writing or speaking in general terms. Furthermore, Jesus is used as a reference for inclusiveness and ordained ministry for women. Admittedly, I am one that struggles with this issue because, although I was raised in a group that promotes such, it is absent from both the NT and Church history. How do you thus justify attacking the writer of this article for using masculine language when speaking in general terms, and how is it that you attempt to argue that Jesus was for ordained women clergy? I suggest that you are reading your modern sensibilities into the text.

    3. A L WALTERS

      Are we sensitive to gender matters where they do not necessarily apply? The pronoun ‘he’ and the noun ‘man’ may be used to cover both genders. These are so used in scriptures and people debate and fuss. Check a good Oxford Dictionary and you may find that the general meanings come to the fore before the gender meanings appear in about fourth place! He can mean ‘anyone’.
      I hope this helps you to be less offended. All the best.

    4. Adam

      I don’t know if you’re from a church that has imbibed from liberal commentators, who try their best to find workarounds to apostolic teaching, or you’re like my Pentecostal friends who really have no idea what the Scriptures teach on the matter, but who follow their own desires and whatever their favorite Pentecostal teacher endorses, but…

      …although it’s clear that God calls both men and women equal in their justification (Gal.3:28), and although all have been gifted to serve in the body in some capacity, only men are given the role of “teaching and having authority” in the church. Sorry you dislike the divine economy, but that’s something that’s not going to change this side of heaven.

  25. Christian

    Good points, but I see the problem in ” paid clergyship” in general. There is no biblical backing of the idea of having a paid leader in church. Many churches grow up to the point until they can afford their pastor to be paid by them and then stop growing. Many problems in church arise from ideas like ” pastors are the king of the church ” or the ” tithing doctrine ” which is not in the new testament at all. I worked full time in a church under a pastor who taught that the people in church are here to serve him and his vision. His teaching was: “God will implement my ( the pastors) vision in your heart” and you have to give your money too… At least 10% belomgs to the church. He invited an US preacher who said in public:” 60% of the people in this room dont have the right to be here, for you are not tithing!”
    The problem is… Even when disagreeing with such nonsense nobody is opposing junk like that in public when it is said by ” gods generals’s”

  26. David Murray

    An excellent article, and I’d go with most of it, but would add another. The pastor who sees himself as above other leaders in the church, at the pinnacle of authority. The New Testament envisaged teams of leaders in local churches (elders, presbyters, bishops, overseers – depending on your translation). The emotional and political struggle for pastoral supremacy has drained many an otherwise good man.

    1. T

      Katie, the Christian walk is certainly fueled by knowledge, but it’s about relationship – with God, with one another inside the local church, and with others outside the local church who need to be saved. All your knowledge and seeking of knowledge is great if you can see knowledge as fuel. Fuel makes a machine run – it’s valuable for getting somewhere or getting something done, but it’s never an end in and of itself. Just as the seminary is there for the sake of the local church, so also you with all your vast knowledge are among God’s people for the sake of building up God’s people. Get together with some people from some lively church and add your knowledge to the others’ gifts, and let God have his way with you all. Knowledge to the exclusion of fellowship, relationship, purpose, and love will lead you into a lonely despair. Be well, love God’s people, and worship the King!

  27. Steve Tippens

    A thoughtful post. However, I’d be inclined to pay more attention to its message if it came from someone outside the church, those people the writer suggests should be our principal concern. The words I’d expect to hear would be “irrelevant, hypocritical, condemning, divisive, exclusive, anti-intellectual,” and the like. In other words, “I don’t need whatever it is you think you have to offer me.” Pastors contribute to the problem, but are certainly not the whole problem.

    We’re sending our young people to college where they’re trained in critical thinking, a discipline where religion doesn’t fare particularly well. Churches generally lose when families disperse geographically, ideologically, and intellectually.

  28. Katie

    I am tired of Pastors who preach and teach the same thing over and over and over again. I am tired to the bone of hearing about my spiritual life, the life of David, Moses, The Disciples, The Early Church, Creation, The Fruits of the Spirit, The Tongue, The Fall of Israel, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, The Life of Christ, THE GOSPLE OF JOHN, and so forth. We have heard them all from the cradle. And yes new believers need to hear these lessons. But I want to go deeper, and I have been pushed aside so much. I have been told that nobody want to learn about the anthropological side of Biblical times. Nobody wants to learn the cultural reasons behind most of the laws. We wont teach you those things is what I get told. I feel at this point in my life I am not going to apologize for having wonderful Christian parents who taught me everyday, and I am not going to apologize for them sending me to a fantastic Christian school that made my understanding of the Bible so much deeper. But I fear I will have to abandon the church altogether and take my yearning for a deeper knowledge of God to seminary. At least they are willing to teach me.

    1. T

      Katie, the Christian walk is certainly fueled by knowledge, but it’s about relationship – with God, with one another inside the local church, and with others outside the local church who need to be saved. All your knowledge and seeking of knowledge is great if you can see knowledge as fuel. Fuel makes a machine run – it’s valuable for getting somewhere or getting something done, but it’s never an end in and of itself. Just as the seminary is there for the sake of the local church, so also you with all your vast knowledge are among God’s people for the sake of building up God’s people. Get together with some people from some lively church and add your knowledge to the others’ gifts, and let God have his way with you all. Knowledge to the exclusion of fellowship, relationship, purpose, and love will lead you into a lonely despair. Be well, love God’s people, and worship the King!

      1. A L WALTERS

        I endorse your response!

        1. A L WALTERS

          ‘T’, I endorse your response. We may be interested in anthropological and historical facts, but to what end? In the universities, these are courses that are geared to prepare people to take action for the good of humankind. Will we use such facts to advance the cause of the Kingdom of God? Will they help our spiritual growth or merely fill some intellectual need?

    2. Oma

      Katie, a very mature and Godly woman once told me that when you stop asking why you have to read a certain scripture, or have to listen to a certain message again and again, is when you have learned the lesson God has for you. I love inductive Bible study, but have learned thatI grow the most spiritually when I read and let God speak to me. God bless you.

  29. A. D.

    Thank You!!!!
    GOD Bless YOU!!!

  30. John C

    A great novel on this theme is “and the Shofar Blew” by Francine Rivers.

  31. Linda Jones

    I think this is a very good article, and one that any true Bible believer should agree with. As leaders we model what we believe. Our heart should be to see every believers ministry developed, (Eph. 4) The focus should not be on the platform etc. Most ministry is done outside Sunday morning, in our homes, business ……..Is the church successful? Is it salt and light? I think God is waking us up to a new paradigm, and I see many churches that are getting serious about involving people in a way they will get the attention they need to grow and be used. III John 2 KJV

    1. Nita

      Linda—I agree whole heartedly! I have a son, that has a heart for God, whose business takes him into more homes than any pastor. He is always looking for ‘open doors’, to talk about God, and His wonderful love. You would be surprised, at the spiritual fruit, of his secular job. God wants us to live in the ‘open’, to let our lights shine for Him.

  32. Kristin

    This article has obviously struck the chord of many people’s hearts, and has shown that many hearts are out of tune with God’s Word. If you are not abiding in Him and setting His Word as the standard and authority in your life, then you cannot hear Truth and cannot see the veil that has been slipped over your eyes. These concerns are valid and very much present in the western church, more correctly, in the church of America where independence is our ultimate goal and we all want to be bigger and better. It’s not about us. It’s all about CHRIST. And Christ has been taken out of the center of Church. We are more concerned with our image, our rights, our opinions than being examples of Christ and living lives that He called us to live.

    1. Janna Pyle

      Well said.

  33. Ilipp

    Great, great article. The church in the US is in decline. We have been a part of churches from the west coast to the east and have seen pastors fall into these. ( and have seen some great God honoring ones as well. ) We’ve seen many lives destroyed by pastors like this- and it is terribly sad.

  34. Rev. Lisa

    I agree but I am even more concerned with denominational leaders who expect pastors to do these things and measure them as signs of “effectiveness” in ministry. That being said, there are many laity who also have their priorities in the wrong place and won’t accept a pastor’s leadership even if he/she did do it all “right”. Decline is due to problems at any or every level of church participation.

  35. Patricia Toschak

    Good thoughts but go back and edit it to include women unless you believe these only apply to men…because that is the way it reads right now!

  36. When I was a believer I would have whole heartily agreed with this post. Even now, I would agree that such pastors are something to be wary of, though I feel my opinion as an atheist would not be welcome amongst certain groups.

    That said, many of these kinds of pastors might lead (unintentionally mind you) their flock to doubt. But I no longer see this as a bad thing, but something to embrace and struggle with.

    I don’t know what your theology entails (I have only read this one post), but a god of wisdom and love could never punish doubt or skepticism, even if (or rather especially) one dies in such a state. That would neither be just nor consistent with his nature.

  37. JP Jones

    I’m concerned about bloggers who find it easy to take potshots at people because the sit behind a computer rather than truly engaging with the lost, the hurting, the least of these or even pastors who need encouragement rather than criticism .

    1. B-Ro

      I agree with this. We don’t have to tear down every person we happen to disagree with or better yet fail to understand from the view point of God. Take your negative energy and build up the leaders in your circle of influence to love the world rather than pointing the pastor next to you doesn’t manage the gifts from above the same way you would. In the NT, they trusted that the apostles would distribute how they saw fit, they didn’t sit and nit pick that the offering was used to maybe by farmer John a new barn for his family, and who are you to say that God didn’t tell that one pastor to have a state of the art sound system cause he saw it fit to bring God glory in a sound that is clear and excellent. (Acts 4:34) Lets encourage one another to our own capacity rather than beat up our family (like it or not they’re brothers and sisters). Pray for them and leave it in God’s hands you don’t have to give account for them before the throne of God, lets give an account of the talents He’s given us and us alone.

    2. Tisha

      You must not have read that part where it mentions he is a church planter. You would do well to research the person before making statements.

    3. Ricardo williams

      A true pastor doing God’s work righteously won’t be bothered by his post. In fact he will be happy that someone is aware that there are many wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  38. Karyn Wiseman

    Seriously faulted post when you leave out all women pastors. Seriously? It’s 2014.

    1. I agree. Almost impossible to read all the way through. I am concerned about the person who thinks of men only when she or he thinks of pastors.

      1. Anna Christie

        Amen brother! My sentiments exactly.

    2. Guy

      I’m concerned some people are too stuck in feminism hype. Just because the pronoun ‘he’ was used doesn’t mean this can’t apply to women. People needing to get past themselves is a big factor in church decline as well.

  39. Michael Mirza

    I’m concerned about the blogger who only writes “he” and “his” when referring to sample pastors while forgetting to also equally sprinkle in “she” and “her.”

    1. Karyn Wiseman

      Amen! Forgot there are women pastors! Seriously faulted post.

  40. Anka Sieng

    What makes me panic most about pastors is that we don’t get to choose them, we don’t chose our pastors, they’re already there as we become christians and join the church, or as we arrive in a new place.
    We don’t like the pastor, we can’t just leave the church and pick another one as we leave some special people in the church behind that we are not ready to give up.

  41. Cindi Rogers

    There are certainly truths here…..but most of this is just setting up a straw man and then knocking him down……Pastors are just men and the church needs to pray for their pastor…..they are the ones Satan wants to destroy first and foremost…….not sure what the motives were for writing this article but it did not not seem helpful but could be hurtful and harmful to the Kingdom…..

    1. Raldy Eang

      Cindy I think you are right

  42. Jerry Dodson

    Terrific article. Thanks for articulating the concerns of far too few pastors (like me.)

  43. RobB

    I’m also concerned about ministers who have no idea what they are doing and on top of that, ministers who have no idea what it means to be called into ministry

  44. mary abdelbaset

    Dave, I am concerned about people like you who make light of the genuine concerns of God’s people and turn it back on them.

    1. Jerry Dodson

      Where did Dave make light of anything? He gave a very good critique of the current state of much of what passes for preaching and pastoring. This was a superb article.

      1. Jerry Dodson

        My bad. I was addressing the article. I agree with your assessment of Dave’s comment. Delete mine if you would, Mr. Moderator.

  45. RE: #8. I think it’s the wrong question. I no longer ask if the Bible is literal or non literal (or literary as the author put it) I ask if it’s true or not. I think we do a disservice to the Bible (and ultimately ourselves) if we think in terms of this dichotomy in a box. I’ve had some very strange encounters with God and all things related to the other realms in the past couple of years which have blurred the line between literal and non literal. I can’t fully rest in one camp or the other anymore, rather it’s something completely different.

  46. Lynell

    A fews years ago, the Lord gave me an acronym regarding the church. I heard the phrase, “No more GAMES”. Then came the definition: Give it All to Me, Empty yourSelves.
    We should be emptied out before the Lord, all of us. Only then, can He truly fill us with the kind of Love He has, which will flow in and through us by His holy spirit.
    We need to come humbly into His Presence and seek His desires for our lives, for what He has for us to accomplish in our place in His body.
    I believe many are seeing a different church, one that is playing games. God needs to be put back on the throne.

  47. Jeff

    As a Pastor myself, I have many misgivings concerning some of my colleagues. I am concerned about Pastors who have double standards when dealing with influential church members and those on the periphery of the church; I have concerns about Pastors who deem “Secondary issues” anything which may cause them to upset serious financial contributors to the church; I have concerns about Pastors who play the “Gracious” card to cover such pragmatism; I have concerns about these same Pastors who then critique in the most microscopic way other Ministers.

    Of course, we can all look at the TV evangelist and such like and see many things which cause alarm. However, within conservative evangelicalism we have more than enough to sort out before we move on to other sections of the Christian world. Without in anyway defending the issues highlighted above, the hypocrisy, intolerance and adherence to an evangelical subculture which often bears little Scriptural warrant is surely no less displeasing to God and off putting to unbelievers than the excesses of mega churches? Planks and splinters come to mind together with judgement needing to begin at the house of God