Archives For Preachers



I’m really tired of pastors (including myself) talking trash about other pastors, and Christians about other Christians. I’m tired of pastors saying, “This isn’t gossip if we’re discussing people in ministry.” Even if that were true, we smuggle in all our petty bitterness under the disguise of caring about someone when we really don’t. That’s more reason to be careful, not less. It doesn’t matter if you only gossip with people you “trust” or with just one other person: you are still feeding your inner-troll.

I don’t believe your church and my church exist within their buildings. They don’t end at your back door or my front lawn. They co-exist in the global body of Christ. We are one. So when you talk bad about another pastor or another Christian down the street — any fellow human being — you are undermining the work of God in their lives. Even suggesting that another pastor is “unworthy” of his position (which is already true) will kill a local ministry. All for what? To satisfy our desperate attention-seeking ego for two seconds? To claim we got the secret-sauce of the “right” methodology? You can’t possibly know the extent of damage you’re doing to OUR church, which is also your body. We effectively bite our own fingers and toes. We eat our own. No one is impressed by this, especially not the world. And I’m tired of that sick feeling in my stomach when I leave a room knowing I just spit on Jesus’s face.

If you’ve been brainwashed into thinking your church is the only one doing it right: you’ve fallen for a tribal, cult-like, isolated, nationalistic paradigm which Jesus came to destroy. If you think a pastor is a false teacher, you are not “protecting” people by publicly shaming him. Instead of using your energy to blast the guy, we could be on our knees praying in sweat and tears for God to rend their hearts open and to have mercy on us all. Most likely though, this guy isn’t a false teacher but he simply does ministry differently than you, and you’re butt-hurt for reasons that won’t matter when you stand before God’s face-melting glory at the end of your one short life. If you have to call out a false teacher, point at yourself first.

I know that no matter how much we divide our own church, God still has grace and He will still work in His sovereignty. But it will be in spite of us and not through us. I would much rather God work through me than past me. It’s better. It is how we will not just survive, but thrive.

I have defended crappy terrible pastors for years now. I have also talked my share of trash. I’m done with both. I will say nothing less than to point to Jesus. I beg of you: celebrate people, because God loves them too. Pray for them, because they need it. And pray for yourself, to let go of excuses and let go of your pride. Gossip is gossip, regardless of what else you call it. I plead with you: please join me in stopping the stream of crap that so quickly emerges from our mouths, which have the potential for greater than this.

— J

 

Fellow pastors and teachers and leaders: I know the frenzy of Saturday night when you’re scrambling to get your sermon just right. After you got your three points, consulted all the commentaries, and fit in your illustrations, here are a few checks to consider that have helped immensely. 

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Hello beloved friends!

My post on Christian art was published at ChurchLeaders.com!

Check it here.

Prepare to be slightly offended.

The original article is here.

Love y’all!


— J.S.


You already know it’s going to happen.

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There’s always a cringe-worthy moment on Sundays when the preacher drops an anvil in the pulpit that suffocates the whole sermon. 

It’s a shrill phrase, nails on a chalkboard, subtle as a sledgehammer, insensitive, no tact, no grace, a lazy tactic that’s meant to stir up something but disregards actual human interaction. 

Pastors: don’t just describe the water that we’re drowning in.  That helps no one.  Show us how to swim.

I’m not above these things and have and occasionally caught myself in the middle of a sermon to laugh at them.  Let’s be a little more self-aware and nip these at the bud.

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Anonymous asked:

Hi! So, I tend to forget that pastors are people with struggles, and I appreciate your past posts about what being a pastor truly entails. Do you find it hard to take advice from, to ask for prayer from, or to be comforted by people since you’re usually the one in that advice-giving/comforting/praying role? What are some overlooked things we should know about/do to support you who have been charged with being earthly shepherds? Does this question even make sense? lol. Thanks in advance.


Thank you for asking this.  Just — thank you.

It appears you’re referring to this post and this post.

Indeed I do find it awkward and difficult to seek counsel, and in my early days of ministry I made the mistake of trying to get that from church members instead of seeking wise men who guide pastors. 

While I absolutely love the church people and want to be as real with them as possible, it’s not always wise for a pastor to divulge such personal daily struggles with the people.  That’s like if the President came over and told me how his wife and kids were shutting him out and smashing plates at dinner; I’d seriously start to doubt him as a leader.

So if you love your pastor (or don’t love your pastor), some things I could recommend –

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I seriously hate this part.

Someone asked me if I could guide him to be a pastor.  I had to say no.

Even after confessions of, “I know I’m a screw-up but I think God could use me,” I still had to say no. 

Questions I asked him to think about:

“Would you be your own pastor?”

“Would you trust yourself with someone else’s kids?”

“Would you trust yourself to lead an entire family?”


No one is expecting perfect, but people trust pastors with their lives.  It’s not a game.  No one needs inspirational speakers.  They need Jesus.  They’re looking to men who model Jesus.

God will also not call you to anything you’re not already doing.  Seminary is not the place where you suddenly change or grow or become Uber-Christianite.  If you’re not already praying your guts out, eating up Scripture, helping people flourish, and pointing people to Christ, then there’s foundational work to be done. 

Even then, no one “earns” pastoral ministry.  It’s a supernatural calling.  Acting on a whim or to grab a spotlight or because everything else seems too hard are NOT valid reasons. 

I’d like to be loving and gracious and fair and offer a chance to everyone who wants to be a pastor.  I feel like a jerk for not doing so.  But I’d also be a jerk to tell you what you want to hear. 

God can absolutely use the screw-ups (I’m the proof), but He doesn’t do that for fun.  You might think you’re so totally broken before God to be used by Him, but if that’s your only qualification, then you’re not broken enough.

It’s pretty serious, bro.  I couldn’t love you unless you got the whole truth.

Here then, are ten qualifications to be a pastor.

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Every pastor I know is a neurotic mess of jumbled nerves, daddy issues, attention-seeking, approval-needing, swelling ego, and jumpy restless anxiety. Overburdened, undernourished, self-torturing, second-guessing, misunderstood souls making the best of it.

For the pastor: every funeral, even of total strangers, is a wrenching stab in the heart. Every marriage is a glimmer of hope, marked by the weariness of counseling and two-sides-of-the-story and accumulating bitterness. Every church member who leaves is a swift punch in the stomach. Every prodigal is rugburn on the knees. Every rumor is hurtful, every ounce of slander stings, every criticism is considered endlessly. No Sunday goes by without thinking what we could have said differently.

It’s our silent struggle. The weight of the world, literally.

The life of a pastor: not really a life at all, because you’ve given it over.

If you’re a pastor and you don’t know that: then Satan is pretty happy with what you’re doing.

If you’re being wrecked, reamed, and ran through: you’re doing the Kingdom work.

There’s no way around it. The high calling of a pastor is an office destined for discouragement, division, and heartache. Occasionally you see the light — and it’s totally worth it all — but most of the times it’s that dark fog, parting now and then as if waking from a bad dream, but a loneliness that we won’t shake until we’re finally home with Him.

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From Desiring God by Jared Wilson, a “letter” styled after The Screwtape Letters in which a demon writes to his apprentice about defeating pastors.

Excerpt:

Help your patient to see all that he lacks. Stroke his discontent. The less satisfied your patient is with what the Enemy has done for him and all the Enemy has given him, the more alluring the validation, approval, and praise of others will be. Empty him of his confidence by highlighting his failures so that therefore his head will be far more easily swelled with adulations and self-confidences. Then pop those like a pin to a balloon and start again. It is easy for a pastor to move to pride—it is his default setting—so this should not be too difficult for you.

Convince him that difficulty is something strange, undeserved. Convince him that allegiance to himself is a suitable substitute for allegiance to the Enemy. Convince him to seek peace at all costs, especially at the expense of the truth of the Bad News. Your patient is a needy, insecure little man. Ply him with the tenuous, vaporous security of being liked as if it is the end all, be all.

Continue Reading at Desiring God



Read Related:
– When Pastors Just Want To Quit
– The Ex-Pastor: How To Appreciate Your Pastor
– In Seminary They Don’t Tell You
– The Warfare of Discouragement
– Dear Pastors: To Whom It Does Concern



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Five Incredible Sermons

February 25, 2012 — 2 Comments

Five incredible sermons worth your time.

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We’re not surprised anymore when a famous preacher who blasts homosexuality gets caught in a homosexual affair doing meth. A governor who pursues ethics in Wall Street is busted for carousing with prostitutes. An actor turned governor turned actor hides a secret child outside his marriage for ten years, fully realizing his role as an actor. We’ve learned that Nazi doctors who ordered the deaths of countless people were also fathers and husbands, a phenomenon later coined “doubling.” At least a third of pastors are addicted to pornography. And half of Christian men are in the same boat.

Once you claim a standard, you’re claimed by that standard.

Even the reckless prodigal or the pseudo-reasonable atheist has claimed categories of superiority. They both sneer at the religious right. The only difference is a Christian works from a deficit: he is expected to be impeccably polite while an atheist lacks all accountability and likes it that way. The atheist has infinite loopholes when he falls — especially when he falls — while the Christian is ready to be hanged at any second for a single outburst.

It’s a sort of reverse bigotry. The non-religious gets in a scandal and it’s “business as usual.” The pastor destroys his marriage and he’s no longer qualified for ministry, or to be treated like a human being.

How far do we take this? If an atheist turned out to be an axe murderer, his atheism as a cover is as good as a cheap hooker’s dress. Try to call that the usual business and you’re likely to be called insane.

No matter who you are or claim to be, a standard has claimed you.

The late John Stott said, Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross … It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

While no one has a valid excuse for hypocrisy, a follower of Christ has more reason to keep it real. He is held accountable even when others are not. And if we claim no superiority, then we have no right to judge outside the church. We have every right to confront each other in the church, to build and not to destroy.

But we cannot ask of others what we first are not doing ourselves.

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unapproachablelight asked:
Do you think your faith could be where it is now if you hadn’t gone through seminary? What do you think of serving in either the church or the missions fields without attending a seminary school?

Near the end of my seminary studies, I wrote a blog post about my entire experience plus wisdom for students here. Read it whenever you like.

One thing seminary does is it will expose your strengths and weaknesses. I hear plenty of pastors say, “Seminary will destroy your faith and make you resent God” — but that’s impossible. No one makes anyone do anything: your environment only exposes who you really are. Same with the car who cuts you off, the friend who betrays you, the dude who holds you at gunpoint, the seminary that pressures you. All of it reveals what’s already inside.

That’s why some seminarians come out with huge Bible-heads all puffed up from learning Greek, or some will have a dried up faith when they learn about Creationism, the Old Testament genocides, and how the Bible was made, as if they finally get to say, “This is what we believe?” No one did that to them.

So be ready for the most rigorous refinement of your intellect in the context of your faith. If you’re humble and teachable along the way, you’ll love it. If your expectations are otherwise, it’s a minefield.

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“Even if you’ve been coming for years or grew up in the church or whatever else, I have this fear that some of you, or possibly many, many of you — are going to hell. It keeps me up at night. … Do you understand the reality of what I said? I’m talking about hell.  Have you heard that word so many times that you’ve just grown numb to it? Eternal punishment.  So what in the world am I doing up here then? And again, I sure hope you don’t see this as, ‘Oh Francis is up there judging the congregation saying he’s saved’ — I’m not saying that.  I’m saying I’m willing to bet some of you would leave this room and say it about yourself, that you are lukewarm — meaning you’ll be spit out of the mouth of God and cast into the fires of hell.  That’s all I’m saying, is what you would say about yourself.  And it blows me away that some of you won’t do anything.”

– Francis Chan, Lukewarm and Loving It

Still one of his best sermons.  October 8th, 2006.


A list of Christian books I’m looking most forward to in 2012.
For all book reviews, click here.


The Transforming Power of the Gospel
By Jerry Bridges
Author of Trusting God, The Gospel For Real Life, and The Pursuit of Holiness
Released January 13th, 2012

One of the most straightforward Christian authors today, Jerry Bridges enters the Reformed landscape of Gospel Centrality, though he had been doing this before it was cool. I can’t wait to read his gentle, powerful voice talk about the power of the Spirit in sanctification.

Reviewed May 4th, 2012


Why Jesus?
By Ravi Zacharias
Author of Has Christianity Failed You?, Jesus Among Other Gods, and The Grand Weaver
Releases January 25th, 2012

The great apologist Dr. Ravi writes on the competing field of spirituality that has surged through the likes of Oprah, Deepak Choprah, and even Dan Brown, taking them all on as no comparison to Jesus. With careful reason and vivid illustrations, Dr. Ravi is sure to bring his best here.

Reviewed January 26th 2012


Worship: The Ultimate Priority
By John MacArthur
Author of Slave, The Gospel According To Jesus, Preaching, Counseling, and The MacArthur Study Bible
Releases February 1st, 2012

One of the “Big Johns,” (including John Piper, John Calvin, John the Baptist, and Apostle John), Dr. MacArthur re-releases an old work written nineteen years ago with two new chapters. This is sure to be as hard-hitting as his countless other works.

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Considering Seminary?

October 19, 2010 — 1 Comment

To those who are embarking on a journey to ministry:

You’ve prayed up. You got the internal calling from God. You got the external confirmation from your mentors and peers. You’re ready to fill out the application, start a sermon file, canvass the local churches, take the plunge. Maybe it’ll be like college, but just Bible stuff. Maybe it’ll be a breeze since you’ve been to Sunday school every weekend of your life. Maybe you’ll get closer to God than you have ever been before, what with all the super-strong Christians at seminary. It’s going to rock.

Ready for the truth?

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