Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 Things Pastors Should Never Say

If you've been in church for even a short time, there's a chance you've heard some of these.  Without further ado, 5 things pastors should never say:

1.) "As I start this sermon today, I have to apologize."  This isn't about a wrong done here, but rather:  when you get up to preach pastors people need a word from God, not an excuse on preparation being lacking.  Many pastors routinely apologize for not being prepared or for their getting nervous as the sermon starts.  If you have a short time to connect with the congregation to bring a Word from God, leave your self-doubt out, it's not about you pastors anyhow, but God's truth.  It is always a bad idea to start out saying things like this.  First of all, how you feel is totally irrelevant.  God's Word is powerful and it will work if you declare it honestly to people to help them.  So how you feel should not factor in.  Then there's this, speaking as an honest audience member tired of hearing the phrase from places I get to hear preaching (varied churches):  immediately about half the group either says get on with it or just bring it.  They won't want to sit through a pity party, of "well, I'm so sorry" too often before getting frustrated.  Focus instead on the glory of what Jesus has done for us pastor.

2.) "Bless your heart."  This has become a condescending comment to most people, but some pastors treat it like it's a way to build someone up spiritually.  This stock phrase needs to go out of stock.  It just conjures up the very reasons most Gen X and Millennials want to totally avoid church to hear the phrase.  When I hear it I feel like I've been transported back to the worst place of 1962.  That perception just isn't helpful to the church in the contemporary setting.

3.) "Style of worship doesn't matter."  Only someone trying to cover up the inadequacies of their current church as a pastor would really say this.  Would you tell someone who is from another continent to get with your style of worship because it doesn't matter?  It does matter.  Within the US there are also styles of worship music and service that connect better to a generation.  Isn't it odd when we are so into missional awareness of other cultures that we drop this idea entirely when thinking of worship music at home?  Only speaking personally, I've found people who deny worship style matters are most of the time (not all the time) trying to convince others their worship style is the best/only valid one.  Also, if you're interested in reaching people where they are, it does matter.

4.) "Give back to God of your finances whatever God leads you."  Now, if we are talking a free will offering for the poor (2 Cor. 9) then there is biblical precedent.  And if we are talking unbelievers in Jesus, then of course, why would we expect them to give to God's cause?  But:  if we are talking regular giving to God's kingdom in our time for Christ followers (note Jesus talks more about money than many things), then there is no verse supporting that 'whatever you feel' in the Bible.  So don't take a verse out of context from a special poor relief offering (equivalent to a world hunger day offering or etc today) in order to help justify people's greed in not giving back generously.  I think most pastors early on in ministry feel like they want to avoid being associated with negative stereotype pastors.  But as you mature as a pastor you begin to realize that how generous someone is back towards God tells you exactly where they are spiritually.  It's not about the size of the gift at all back to God's kingdom.  It's about the regular generous amount.  That takes coaching and being taught on to be more generous.  God pleasing giving doesn't come from a vacuum.  As an aside, and I've found it to be true, the least likely group to give generously are the well-paid at work church attenders.  This is according to statistics.  They might give 1% and it would look nice, but they don't have to sacrifice much to give 1% either.  Never assume either a gift's size reflects one's maturity in Jesus who gives it.  You cannot serve God and money applies not just to pastors from cynical skeptics, but also to God's people as a whole.

5.) "Everyone is welcome here."  If that's true, go ahead.  But is it?  Honestly, are you wanting someone under church discipline step III, who has refused again and again and again to repent (turn) from sin even before the congregation (Matthew 18, Jesus)?  Or, are you ignoring the biblical command to drive out the mocker (assuming this means one who will not change)?  And then answer this:  what about Alexander the Metalworker types (II Tim. 4)?  What about unrepentant slanderers who've been properly confronted but refused change?  Even this, what about the two guys at 24 Hour Fitness who are coming to church to seduce women to sleep with them in a one night stand at your singles group (Jude)?  So:  it is better to work on a culture where those pursuing God wherever they are are welcome, than one which refuses to discern who is there.  There are more creative phrases than everyone is welcome here to use pastor friends.

And for these, we would all be better off to see such phrases gone.  It'll make you a more effective communicator to abandon such phrases.  Grace and peace.

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