Mailbag

The Mailbag: Expository or Topical Preaching: Which is better?

 

I would like to read your thoughts on expositional vs. topical preaching. I know we can benefit from both but is one superior to the other and why?

Great question! You’re right, both forms of preaching can be beneficial as long as the pastor properly exegetes (rather than eisegetes) Scripture.

For readers who might not be familiar with the terms, expository preaching is basically when a pastor preaches through books of the Bible from beginning to end carefully explaining what each passage means. He might go through only a few verses each week, or maybe a chapter each week, so the time it takes to work through a book will vary from pastor to pastor.

The term topical preaching can have a couple of different meanings depending on who you’re talking to and what she understands the term to mean. Some people understand “topical preaching” to mean a sermon series, usually in a seeker driven church, that centers around something in pop culture. (For example, popular movies or the Olympics.) Normally, these sermons are very shallow, biblically – sometimes nothing more than a pep talk or self-help tips. This type of preaching is unbiblical, and if it makes up the bulk of the preaching at your church, I’d recommend finding a new church.

There is, however, a biblical form of topical preaching that can be very helpful. If a doctrinally sound pastor sees an issue in the church that needs to be addressed, there is nothing wrong with his taking a break from preaching through a certain book (or when he’s between books) to teach on this issue from the pulpit.

For example, pastors in Parkland, Florida, might wish to take a few weeks right now to preach sermons on “Why does God allow tragedies to happen?”, “How can I biblically comfort the families of the victims?”, “Are the victims of the shooting in Heaven?”, and so on. One great topical sermon concept I’ve seen is for the pastor to give the congregation the opportunity to submit biblical questions and then preach sermons answering those questions. Other times a pastor might address a biblical topic for several weeks, such as peace, the gospel, the Fruit of the Spirit, or parenting. As long as these topics are driven by “let’s look at what the Bible says about X” and the pastor handles Scripture correctly and in context, topical preaching is both biblical and beneficial.

My personal opinion (this is not law and there may be plenty of perfectly doctrinally sound pastors who disagree) is that the majority of a pastor’s preaching should be expository with occasional breaks for (biblical) topical preaching as needed. Why?

✢ Expository preaching usually covers a wider spread of Scripture and a wider variety of topics. Topical preaching is, by definition, very narrowly focused on fewer passages and fewer topics.

✢ Expository preaching models for the congregation the proper way they should study the Bible at home. Most of the time, in your daily Bible study, you should be working your way through books of the Bible systematically. (That said, topical preaching done properly is also helpful for demonstrating to the congregation how to correctly find and apply Scripture to various topics and situations which arise in their lives. We need to know how to do both, but the former is primary.)

✢ Expository preaching helps a pastor better preach the whole counsel of God. He doesn’t have to worry that he’s neglecting to teach on a certain issue and wrack his brain trying to think of what that issue might be. With expository teaching, Scripture takes care of that for him.

✢ I have to think that expository preaching is easier than being forced to come up with a new topic or series every week or few weeks. I’m not a pastor, but the Bible studies I post each Wednesday are nearly always expository. The articles I post each Friday are nearly always topical. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t fret over coming up with a topic for the Friday article and struggle against writer’s block. But I know exactly what each week’s Bible study is going to cover: whatever the next passage of Scripture is in the book we’re studying. Exposition eliminates “forced creativity stress” for me, and I’m thinking maybe it’s similar for pastors.

✢ Expository preaching pushes pastors to tackle hard and unfamiliar passages as they come up in the text, making them more biblically knowledgeable and well-rounded, and allowing them the blessing of depending on God in prayer to open their eyes to understand His Word.

✢ Expository preaching should keep the Old Testament and certain books of the Bible from being neglected as much as they usually are. There are only 66 books in the Bible to preach through. Eventually you’re going to have to get to the minor prophets, Leviticus, Jude, Philemon, Song of Solomon, and the really long books of the Old Testament. Ostensibly. I’m sure there are expository pastors out there who have preached through the more neglected books, but I’ve never sat under a pastor who preached through Nahum or Zephaniah or Ezekiel. Just sayin’.

✢ Expository preaching gives the congregation a better grip on the overall story arc of the Bible and the culture of the period being studied. If your pastor preaches a topical sermon on leadership from Nehemiah one Sunday, you’re not going to understand the post-exilic period of Israel’s history or the culture of that time nearly as well as if he preached through the entire book over several weeks or months. That knowledge and insight is something you can stick in your pocket and hang on to for studying other post-exilic Scripture at home or in Sunday School, or listening to other sermons dealing with that period of Israel’s history.

✢ Expository preaching better lends itself to encouraging the congregation to prepare for Sunday worship during the week. If you know what passage your pastor is going to be preaching on this Sunday, you can study, and even memorize verses, ahead of time to prepare your heart to hear your pastor preach it.

I just have a couple of caveats (still just my personal opinions) about expository preaching:

I don’t think it’s wise for a pastor to be so rigidly stuck on expository preaching that he ignores the leading of the Holy Spirit to preach the occasional biblical topical sermon when it would be a benefit and a blessing to his congregation simply because he sees himself as an expository preacher. Preaching a topical sermon or series from time to time doesn’t mean you have to turn in your expository preaching card.

Also, while verse by verse preaching is an excellent way to teach the text thoroughly, I once heard someone talking about her (very good, doctrinally sound) pastor who had been preaching through a particular book of the Bible for seven years and still had several chapters to go. I don’t think it’s a good idea to take that long on a single book. At that point, several of the aforementioned benefits of expository preaching are gone: the pastor has ceased to preach the whole counsel of God, he’s neglecting bibilical topics not found in that book, he’s neglecting other books of the Bible, he’s not helping his congregation learn the whole storyline of Scripture and the customs of various historic periods and cultures, and he’s not covering as wide a spread of Scripture as he could if he’d limit himself to a year or two, max, to finish one book and move on to the next.

Expository and topical preaching are both helpful in their own ways, but the most important thing is that the pastor is “rightly handling the word of truth.”


Additional Resources

Why topical preaching can never build a healthy church by Mark Dever

The Sheer Weightlessness of So Many Sermons—Why Expository Preaching Matters by Albert Mohler

What is topical preaching? Does it have a place in the church? by John MacArthur

Can Topical Preaching Be Expository? by Timothy Warren


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Church, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

Originally published July 24, 2015
9 disc women leave

 

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled “Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church.” Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1. Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching
Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2. The worship hour has become a variety show
Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

*3. Women in improper places of church leadership
The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4. Children are being entertained, not trained
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5. Women’s “Bible” Studies
The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6. Ecumenism
Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7. Ageism
Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8. The “troublemaker” label
Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9. Spineless or stiff-necked pastors
Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

 

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.


*If you disagree with this point and are considering writing a comment arguing that women SHOULD be pastors and have other unbiblical positions of leadership, please save yourself some time, because I will not be printing it. As it says in my “welcome” tab (top of this page), I do not print false doctrine without refuting it, and at the moment, I do not have the time. If you are truly interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the proper role of women in the church, click here and explore the Scriptures that address this topic.

**While it may be necessary to leave a church that is not operating biblically, Hebrews 10:24-25 makes it clear that meeting together for worship and the teaching of God’s word is not optional for Christians. Please see my follow up article, Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly for more on this topic.

Christian women, Church, Discernment

And the top article of 2015 is…

At the end of the year lots of bloggers re-publish their top post(s), so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. Nine Reasons practically went viral this year (well, viral for me, anyway) with a whopping 100,000 views, followed by:

Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

Five Reasons It’s Time to Start Exercising “Moore” Discernment (Beth Moore)

Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

and

10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

rounding out the top five articles of 2015. And now, without further ado, I bring you my top article of 2015:
9 disc women leave

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled “Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church.” Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing heretical materials to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1. Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching
Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2. The worship hour has become a variety show
Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

*3. Women in improper places of church leadership
The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4. Children are being entertained, not trained
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5. Women’s “Bible” Studies
The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6. Ecumenism
Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7. Ageism
Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. Discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8. The “troublemaker” label
Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often villified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9. Spineless or stiff-necked pastors
Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

 

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.

 

*If you disagree with this point and are considering writing a comment arguing that women SHOULD be pastors and have other unbiblical positions of leadership, please save yourself some time, because I will not be printing it. As it says in my “welcome” tab (top of this page), I do not print false doctrine without refuting it, and at the moment, I do not have the time. If you are truly interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the proper role of women in the church, click here and explore the Scriptures that address this topic.

**While it may be necessary to leave a church that is not operating biblically, Hebrews 10:24-25 makes it clear that meeting together for worship and the teaching of God’s word is not optional for Christians. Please see my follow up article, Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly for more on this topic.


I’ve closed comments for this article since it’s a reprint, but you can comment at the original article if you’d like.

 

Discernment, False Teachers

Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer is a wife and mom of three boys hailing from the Dallas area. Though you may be newly acquainted with her from her roles in the movies Overcomer and War Roomshe has been writing women’s Bible studies and has been a popular speaker at women’s conferences and other events for many years. Together with her husband, Jerry, she heads up Going Beyond Ministries.

When I participated in Priscilla’s DVD study He Speaks to Me several years ago, I found her to be an engaging writer, a witty storyteller, and charismatic speaker. Priscilla’s friendliness and genuine care for Christian women seem to shine through every word she speaks and writes. And to top that all off, she’s beautiful and sharp as a tack. It’s very easy to think of Priscilla and think, “What’s not to love?”

Which is why it grieves me to have to answer that question with: “Her theology.” Unfortunately, there are serious red flags about some of the things Priscilla does and teaches that Christian women who follow her, or are considering following her, need to be made aware of. And because of those issues, I deeply regret that I am not able to recommend her as I would like to. Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource.

Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons:

Preaching to Men

Priscilla unrepentantly preaches to and instructs men in the Scriptures in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (as well as other passages of Scripture that do not allow this). If you have followed me for any length of time, you have seen me raise this issue repeatedly regarding female Bible teachers and speakers. Yes, it’s a big deal and, yes, I will continue to teach and write about it. There are two crucial reasons for this.

First, this is a sinI am finding that more and more Christians have to be told this. When the Bible says not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. And the Bible says that women are not to preach to or instruct men, or to hold authority over men in the gathered body of Believers, the church. Though the consequences of the sin of instructing men may not appear to be severe, it is just as much of a sin as any other sin you can think of: adultery, lying, stealing, drunkenness, and so on. If you wouldn’t follow a male pastor or Bible teacher who was open and unrepentant about committing adultery or shoplifting or getting plowed every weekend, why would you follow any female Bible teacher who preaches to and instructs men?

Second, almost without exception, every female Bible teacher I know of who unrepentantly instructs men also teaches other doctrinal error (usually Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation or seeker driven false doctrine). So instructing men is a red flag to watch for if you’re looking for a doctrinally sound teacher.

If a woman is supposedly knowledgeable enough about the Bible to be in the position of teaching and authoring, yet doesn’t understand or obey such a basic biblical truth, what does that say about the rest of her knowledge of the Bible? How can you trust that anything else she teaches you about the Bible is accurate and true?

Partnering with False Teachers

Priscilla partners and associates with false teachers such as Joyce Meyer, Christine CaineJoel and Victoria Osteen, and T.D. and Serita Jakes (see below). All of these people are proponents of the false and anti-biblical Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) doctrine, and the Jakeses are also modalists.  Paul is quite clear that people who preach “another gospel” are “accursed”, or damned, and that we are not to partner with them. John says virtually the same thing, and adds that to partner with false teachers is to take part in their wicked works. Again, when the Bible says not to do something, and a person does it anyway, this is sin.

priscilla-shirer-serita-jakes

priscilla-shirer-destiny

On October 16, 2016, Priscilla and her husband, children, and mother were in attendance at T.D. Jakes’ “church,” The Potter’s House, where, during a God’s Leading Ladies graduation ceremony, Priscilla accepted the “Lady of Destiny” award. As you can see, she has warm words of praise and admiration for Serita Jakes (T.D.’s wife).

Unbiblical Teaching

Priscilla teaches Christians to “listen for God’s voice” in an unbiblical form of “prayer” called contemplative prayer. Combining elements of Eastern mysticism and New Age spirituality, this practice of emptying the mind and listening for God’s voice is found nowhere in Scripture. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-13.

No mention of sitting in silence or listening here nor in any of the other passages in which the Bible teaches about prayer. Jesus taught us the way He wanted us to pray. Priscilla teaches something different.

Priscilla often uses poor hermeneutics when handling God’s word. Looking back over my copy of He Speaks to Me, and sifting through numerous videos of her teaching, it’s clear that her method of teaching is mainly eisegesis. She begins most lessons with a story or personal experience, uses these stories to formulate her own spiritual principles, and then adds in a smattering of Bible verses (often out of context) to support her ideas. Priscilla has also admitted that she reads herself into Scripture, an unbiblical practice sometimes called “narcissistic eisegesis”.

The proper method of teaching Scripture is exegesis. Exegesis is taking a passage of Scripture in context, and “leading out” of it- teaching what the passage means.

One example that best showcases Priscilla’s penchant for eisegesis and poor hermeneutics can be found in this promotional video for her study, One in a Million:

0:46- This same God was supposed to be speaking to me, teaching to me, making Himself relevant to me…in the regular rhythms of my everyday living…

Where does the Bible teach this? It doesn’t. God speaks to us and teaches us through the careful study and preaching of His word, not through subjective voices, feelings, and experiences in the “rhythms of everyday living” (what, precisely, does that phrase even mean?) Where does Priscilla get the idea that God is “supposed” to be speaking in these ways? Not from Scripture.

1:37- When these believers…who had experienced different things about God became part of my life, my eyes were opened to see God in a brand new way. 

These “believers from different denominations” Priscilla references who rattled her “theological box” may have been part of Priscilla’s initial exposure to false Word of Faith teaching and false teachers such as the aforementioned Meyer, Caine, and Osteens.

Notice the emphasis around the 1:37 mark on people’s personal experiences (praying for miracles, etc.) rather than on the Bible. We do not build doctrine or what we believe about God on people’s subjective experiences. What we believe about God must come from Scripture alone. Personal experiences can be evidence of the truth of rightly handled and understood Scripture, but not vice versa.

2:57- Do you know that of the original two million Jewish people only two actually ever made it? That’s one in a million. Well, man, if there’s only going to be a handful of people experiencing what we’ve learned on the pew…then I want one of those to be me.”

The story of Joshua and Caleb being the only ones to enter the Promised Land has absolutely no connection whatsoever with how many Christians today will be able to achieve intimacy with God. None. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that because only two people out of two million entered the Promised Land that only “a handful of people” will be able to “experience” (there’s that word again) “what we’ve learned on the pew.”

Furthermore (since Priscilla looks to tangible experiences and anecdotal evidence as support for her ideas), both anecdotal church history and the experiences of Christians who are alive today prove this idea to be false. Untold millions of Christians over the last two thousand years have studied God’s word, grown close to Him, matured in their faith, and walked faithfully with Him throughout their lives. God doesn’t limit to a select few the number of Christians who are able to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus the way He limited entrance to the Promised Land. In fact, the Bible says the opposite. It is God’s plan for every Christian to grow to spiritual maturity and intimacy with Him.

But growth to spiritual maturity through the study of God’s word and faithful obedience to Him isn’t what Priscilla is offering through this study. Instead, she is dangling in front of Christian women an emotionally appealing and unbiblical carrot of miraculous and unique personal experiences with God instead of teaching them to properly study their Bibles and rely on Scripture alone for their doctrine and practices.

Though there are others, these are the major doctrinal errors in this video, which is less than four minutes of teaching from Priscilla.

1 Corinthians 4:6 says:

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

It is a sad irony that Priscilla Shirer opted to name her ministry “Going Beyond,” because this is exactly what she is choosing to do right now. She goes beyond what is written in teaching men, in partnering with false teachers, in teaching unbiblical prayer practices, and in using improper hermeneutics. Therefore, it is my recommendation that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Priscilla Shirer or Going Beyond Ministries at this time.

 

Additional Resources:

Disclaimer: The specific links below are provided and endorsed as evidence pertaining to this article only. I do not endorse any of these sites in so far as any of them might deviate from Scripture or conflict with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.

Preaching to Men:

Priscilla Shirer preaches the Sunday morning worship service (to a co-ed audience) at Celebration Church, Austin, Texas

(This is not the only example of Priscilla preaching to men. It is merely one of the clearest examples since she is preaching the Sunday sermon at a church. Priscilla can be seen and heard preaching to men in many of the video and audio clips I’ve linked in this article and elsewhere. This is a sin she consistently and unrepentantly walks in. It is not a one time “oopsie.”)

Women Teachers? Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer Believe In Teaching Men Too at Surph’s Side

Partnering with False Teachers:

Pink Impact Conference Priscilla joined with faith healing “apostle” of the New Apostolic Reformation, Todd White, as well as false teachers Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, and “Pastor” Debbie Morris.

Unwrap the Bible promo video by Victoria Osteen

Priscilla Shirer on Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer (1)

Priscilla Shirer on Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer (2)

Priscilla Shirer Talks Women and the Church, Moving From the Pew to the Pavement and Why Christine Caine Is at the Top of Her List at the Christian Post

Priscilla Shirer recommends Joyce Meyer, Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, etc., “Bible” studies on her blog at Going Beyond

Priscilla Shirer speaks at Joyce Meyer’s women’s conference alongside false teachers Joyce Meyer, Lisa Harper, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter)

Priscilla Shirer’s promo page at (Word of Faith) Hillsong

Meet Christine Caine at Going Beyond

Priscilla Shirer, featured speaker at (Word of Faith) Hillsong’s 2016 Colour Conference with Brian Houston, Bobbie Houston, and Christine Caine

Priscilla Shirer endorses Bobbie Houston’s (female “co-pastor” of heretical Hillsong “church) book, Stay the Path

Unbiblical Teaching:

Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God on Issues, Etc. – Pastor Chris Rosebrough explains why Priscilla’s twisting of John 10 to mean that we can hear God speak to us is unbiblical.

Is Priscilla Shirer a Sound Exegete? on Fighting for the Faith

True Woman Conference Speaker Priscilla Shirer Hears God’s Still, Small Voice at Apprising Ministries

Priscilla Shirer and Contemplative/Centering Prayer at Apprising Ministries

He Speaks to Me promo video by Priscilla Shirer

War Room’s Priscilla Shirer’s Contemplative History, and Why It Matters at Apologetic Report

Review of Priscilla Shirer’s Sermon: “The Multitude” by Chris Rosebrough

Priscilla Shirer- Mystic by David Sheldon

Priscilla Shirer: Out Of The Closet At The Alpha Leadership Conference 2017 at Emergent Watch

Priscilla Shirer at Fighting for the Faith

Fervent Warning on Priscilla Shirer at Christian Answers for the New Age

War Room Reviews and Critiques

Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers’ new movie, “War Room”, part 2 at The End Time

War Room: A Review by Justin Peters at Worldview Weekend

War Room- A Review at Hip and Thigh

Stand Firm: A Review of War Room at Satisfaction Through Christ

Book Reviews:

Fervent by Aimee Byrd

Fervent at Wise in His Eyes

Christian women, Church, Discernment

Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

9 disc women leave

 

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled “Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church.” Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1. Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching
Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2. The worship hour has become a variety show
Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

*3. Women in improper places of church leadership
The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4. Children are being entertained, not trained
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5. Women’s “Bible” Studies
The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6. Ecumenism
Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7. Ageism
Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8. The “troublemaker” label
Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9. Spineless or stiff-necked pastors
Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

 

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.

 

*If you disagree with this point and are considering writing a comment arguing that women SHOULD be pastors and have other unbiblical positions of leadership, please save yourself some time, because I will not be printing it. As it says in my “welcome” tab (top of this page), I do not print false doctrine without refuting it, and at the moment, I do not have the time. If you are truly interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the proper role of women in the church, click here and explore the Scriptures that address this topic.

**While it may be necessary to leave a church that is not operating biblically, Hebrews 10:24-25 makes it clear that meeting together for worship and the teaching of God’s word is not optional for Christians. Please see my follow up article, Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly for more on this topic.