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!