Seeking Preachers

What do we need to see in the pulpit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Since we’ve moved to a new town, my wife and I have been church shopping as it were. We sometimes go to my parents’ church at night, but they are a different denomination and we’d like to find a church that’s more our own and more fitting to our personal tastes. I will say that when we’ve gone in the evenings, the sermons I have heard are excellent.

So far, we haven’t had as much luck as we’d like and the more I see preachers, the more problems I have with them. I see so many preachers that are far more advanced in years than I am and yet, they don’t seem to have any great biblical knowledge whatsoever. For too many, having a lot of passion excuses one from having good study of the text or exegesis. Exegesis refers to bringing out the ideas that are in the text. For another definition, hermeneutics refers to the art of interpretation.

Let’s get some requirements for ministers then. First off, everyone in the pulpit ministry if at all possible should seek to avail themselves of higher education. That would mean going to Bible College and/or Seminary. For some in small churches, that might not be feasible. If you cannot do that, you should at least be making use of your local library and seeking to learn as much as you can about the Bible and Christianity.

A good minister should also seek to learn knowledge in other areas. He needs to be conversant when talking to different people. He cannot be a specialist in everything, but he should at least know someone in an area if he needs a specialist.

For instance, my area is apologetics. I realize that not every minister can focus on apologetics. That’s fine. When the need comes up however, he should know at least one person, though ideally more would be better, who can be the apologetics expert in the congregation.

Another example would be counseling. Many ministers will often specialize in counseling. As with apologetics, every minister should have some skill in both areas. The minister can refer to people who are better at counseling than he, maybe not even someone in the congregation, but considering his position will imply to many people that he has such knowledge, he should learn some basics at least.

When it comes to preaching, if there is something all preachers must learn to do, it is to actually preach the text. I have seen too many preachers that start out with an idea, and want to use the text of Scripture as a tangent to launch their own message. This is not good hermeneutics or good preaching.

Now there are times a minister will have an idea on a biblical theme and seek the best text. For instance, let us suppose a minister wants to do a sermon on forgiveness. He can then look through and decide what text that he thinks will be the best one to use on forgiveness.

However, when the preacher does not preach the text, he does two great harms to the congregation. First off, he does not use the text in its proper sense and gives the people an idea from the text that the text never intended them to have. Second, in giving a false idea of what the text means, he does not give the audience the true meaning of the text that God desires for the people and robs them of that.

If this requires that the minister learn the biblical languages, then he should seek to do that. The minister should be willing to look at various commentaries at least. Too many ministers have said that they will just let the Holy Spirit tell them what the text means, which, surprise surprise, is usually exactly what they thought the text meant prior! A minister should not use the Holy Spirit as an excuse for his lack of ability or will to study the text.

A minister should also have passion for what he does, but that does not mean that he has only passion. A minister with just passion will be prone to falling when his emotions leave him and will do damage not just to himself but to a congregation that depends on him. A minister that is solely intellectual without caring will not be able to care for his congregation.

Another point I wish to share is that too many preachers seem to have some weak ego where they want their congregation to amen them regularly. While it can be fine to want to see that happen, do not ask for that. It reeks of a need for validation in your ideas. If you make a good point in a sermon, expect someone to acknowledge that.

Our churches need to be stronger and our ministers need to be prepared for that. Too many churches are sitting ducks for the rampant skepticism in our age, or else if they are not, they have so withdrawn into themselves that they are no threat to the world around them. Either way, they are not serving the purpose God intended for the church.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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3 Responses to “Seeking Preachers”

  1. joelellisjr Says:

    Great observations. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. robert griffith Says:

    Nick, after reading your article, i know where you are coming from in regards to finding a good pastor. I have been very fortunant regarding pastors, and have found an excellent precher. I know you would love him, he meets all the requirements you listed, he loves to preach the truth. His messages go for over an hour, and time flies by. He does a tremendous amount of research, and holds high the banner of the truth of Gods word. Check him out @ marshillchurch.org, Pastor Mark Driscoll. All his messages are available online. I am certain you will agree.

    • michellemu Says:

      Hey, Robert

      You really seem to love your pastor – you’ve spoken positively about him in two consecutive blog posts. This is so refreshing after the traditional post-Easter week of bashing-your-pastor / bashing-other-pastors / bashing-one-and-all. I love hearing that someone who loves God’s word and His Truth has found a place to grow.

      I’m curious, however, about why you’re promoting your pastor to Nick so tenaciously. Mark Driscoll has a knack for being on the radar – I’d guess Nick already knows who he is. Mars Hill is approximately 2,600 miles west of where Nick lives, so it’s unlikely that Nick will begin attending there. Are you looking for Nick’s endorsement of Mark? If so, why? Not that I have anything against Mark Driscoll – I find him to be a very interesting man, your promotion of him just makes me curious.

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