Everything I Know About The Lord I Learned In Church?

study the word“Your challenge is NOT that people won’t believe what you teach.

Your challenge is that most people are going to believe EVERYTHING you teach.  When you stand in the pulpit and teach God’s word, you better make sure you know what you are talking about!”

I have never forgotten how my Greek professor started that Intro to Greek class.  He laid out a challenge to the entire class that has shaped me all these years.   When I was preaching every week, it guided my preparation time.    It is why I spent 30-40 hours every week as a pastor studying the texts I was teaching on.  I took it THAT seriously.

A lot of us out here in the blogosphere know how to study the scriptures for ourselves. We read books and articles all the time that help shape our faith and practice.  Still, vast majorities of people rely on the church corporately and pastors specifically to teach them the faith.  How are we doing?

According to a report by George Barna, the church is failing miserably in this area.  “Believers” know less and less about God and understand the Bible less and less.  Yet it is the Church’s job to make disciples and to “Teach them to Obey everything I (Jesus) commanded you.”

Why is this happening?  If you read this blog, you know that I don’t lack an opinion on this!

Could one of those reasons be the failure of our younger pastors to grasp the significance of their preaching task?  I have been to over 30  40 different churches in the last 8 years.  One of the things I have noticed is the casual manner that a majority of pastors have towards their preaching.  I can tell when someone has prepared.  It is obvious to a wordsmith when a fellow wordsmith has put in the study and preparation time.  It is just as obvious when they are winging it.

From what I have seen, many pastors are winging it!

The reasons for this can be summed up into to broad categories:   Time Management and Skill/training

Pastoring has never been an easy job.  Preaching week after week is not for the faint of heart.  The demands of today’s ministry on a pastor’s time only make it harder to be faithful in your study.  I am no longer pastoring, and I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to get quiet alone time to study in today’s world.

For many pastors, there just isn’t enough time to adequately study AND keep up with the ever increasing demands of today’s ministry.  The only solution I know for this is to let other things go.  Pastor, if you find that you don’t have time week after week to study the word and show yourself approved, you need cut other less valuable things out of your schedule.  You know what those things are.

The other issue that may be causing this “Wing It!” mentality is a lack of skill in studying the Bible.  Judging by what I’ve seen, our seminaries may no longer teach Hermeneutics.  I doubt they are teaching Homiletics.   If you don’t know how to study a text or passage, and you are a preacher, you need to stop reading this and go learn how to do it!

When you stand in that pulpit to teach God’s word, we are listening!  We are ready to believe what you teach.  Many of us will believe what you teach even when you are off base and wrong, due to a lack of serious thought on the text.  For our sake, and for His sake, take some extra time and prepare the way you should.

If your pastor is already doing this, rejoice!  Send him a note and thank him!  Encourage him to keep doing it!  Find out when he studies and never call or email or text him during those times, unless it is a real emergency.   Teach others in the congregation to do the same.  Help guard your pastors study time, and you, he and the entire congregation will be the better for it!

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on May 30, 2014, in Christianity, Church Leadership, Contemporary Church Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. A church I attend frequently doesn’t rely on a single Pastor to preach. Many of the Elders rotate in too. I think this works well because it allows each preacher several weeks to gather, study, and go over what they are going to preach on and it gives the Pastor time to attend to needs of the congregation without a) feeling they are bothering him since he needs to prep his preaching but feels he doesn’t have enough time or b) needing to “wing it” on Sunday.

    If a church has more than one on staff Pastor, I would highly recommend the church doesn’t rely on a single “Preaching” Pastor. I know many rely on the “Senior” or a single pastor to do the preaching. Some pastors like to preach and don’t mind. Some are better at preaching than others. Regardless, rotate that duty.

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    • I know I know. I forgot rotating to a different Pastor each week really messes with “their” desire to do a “series of messages”. Drop the series, and pickup a rotation of “random” preaching. I truly think it works better.

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    • That is a great idea!

      It is easier to do in larger churches that have multiple staff. It is a struggle for the smaller church, where the lead pastor is the only pastor.

      You make a good point about bothering the pastor. People are who we shepherd and their needs are important to attend to. When I was preaching every week, my study time was 5am-10am most days. Then I had the rest of the day to shepherd and attend to the other duties of ministry. I found that most “emergency interruptions: came later in the day.

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      • This church is a smaller church with only one on staff pastor. However, they have very well educated Elders with pastoral pasts / backgrounds and strong desires to get into and stay in the Word and a desire to preach and help out.

        The Elders/board aren’t just common everyday lay people. These Elders and the Pastor work together to hold each other accountable in all things. That’s something I think many organizations lack: true accountability.

        If you’re going to hold the Pastor/Organization accountable to its mission of teaching the Word, and if a single person can’t truly carry that load, then those who truly wish to maintain accountability need to find a solution… in this case it’s stepping in to help out.

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  2. I hope many pastors read this and take it to heart! I’m so tired of “feel good” preachers – Preach what won’t rock the boat. It sounds good but won’t make people uncomfortable. Thanks for sharing. Have a blessed week-end.

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  3. I agree with all you have written there. I think the problem is also that the preaching and teaching now is set so “low” and so “seeker focused” that those of us who enjoy some meat feel that we have been cheated out of a good feed. To hear a good message is worth its weight in gold, and is remembered and chewed over for a long time.
    The pastor who gives a good mix of milk, veges and meat is to be valued.

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