Mailbag

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

Originally published March 5, 2018

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 ~ Do You MIND? : Five Reasons for Pastors to Mind What Their Brides Are Reading

Originally published May 27, 2016pastors mind brides

A while back, my husband and I were driving down the road on the way to the store discussing various aspects of ministry. At some point the conversation turned to a pastor with whom we were both vaguely familiar. Neither of us knew much about him, so we decided to look him up on Facebook to see if we could get a better handle on where he was coming from, theologically. Aside from a couple of mildly iffy posts that it wasn’t a stretch to extend the benefit of the doubt about, it didn’t seem as though there were any major doctrinal red flags. He just seemed like your average, Bible believing pastor who needed to brush up a little on his discernment. (Hey, who doesn’t, right?)

I was actually more interested in the pastor’s wife and what kind of ministries she was involved in that I might also like, so I clicked over to her page. I was pretty disappointed by what I saw. She had posted materials from several major false teachers- the female equivalents of people from Joel Osteen all the way down to Benny Hinn.

I remarked to my husband that I thought there might be some concerns about this pastor’s theology if he was OK with his wife following and sharing materials from high profile false teachers. And my husband gently reminded me that wasn’t necessarily the case:

“He probably doesn’t even know those women are false teachers.”

My husband went on to say that he wouldn’t have known that people like Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer are false teachers if I hadn’t done the research and filled him in. Not because he doesn’t care whether or not I read sound doctrine, but because pastors and Christian men in general don’t often pick up and read books written for Christian women to examine the theology we’re feeding on.

Until the last few decades, they haven’t always needed to. If your wife went shopping and came home with a book from LifeWay, it never crossed your mind to question whether or not it was biblical. It was LifeWay for heaven’s sake. LifeWay is run by pastors and theologians with years of experience and doctoral degrees from seminary. Of course it was biblical.

Well not any more, it isn’t. The majority (and that’s not an exaggeration) of the “Bible” studies and other materials marketed to Christian women by Christian retailers are authored by false teachers.

what rose reads_kindlephoto-19662398

Pastors, on behalf of Christian women everywhere, I plead with you: check out the theology of the authors and bloggers (including me) your wife is reading and the Christian personalities she follows and shares on social media. Please thoroughly vet the materials your Sunday School/small group/Bible study classes and women’s ministry are using. Find out about the speakers headlining the women’s conference or simulcast your ladies are attending. Make sure guest speakers appearing at your church’s women’s event teach sound doctrine.

Why?

It’s not my place to instruct you (and I’m sure you already know, anyway) in what the Scriptures say about being the spiritual leader of your family, responsible for its theological health or your obligations as a pastor to guard your church against false doctrine. I’ll leave that to godly men, fellow pastors, theologians, etc. What I’d like to do is to offer you some practical insights (in no particular order) from the pink side of the pew that you might find to be helpful tools as you think about and pray through how to handle vetting the teachers your wife or church ladies follow:

1. Your wife’s decision to follow false teachers could cost you a job. There are women out there like me who are familiar with the “twisted sisters” your wife is sharing on social media. If I could wrongly make assumptions about the theology of the aforementioned pastor based solely on his wife’s Facebook activity (because wives can be a reflection of their husbands’ spiritual leadership), others could do the same – maybe even those on a pulpit search committee – and that could impact your search for a pastoral position.

2. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot. A pastor’s wife can have a huge influence on her church. She is often the one teaching the women’s Bible study or heading up the women’s ministry, and even if she doesn’t, her input on curricula, guest speakers for women’s events, etc., is usually seen by the women of your church as carrying the weight of your approval or preferences. If you’re up in the pulpit preaching sound doctrine every week while your wife or women’s leader is importing false doctrine into the women’s ministry, it’s like bailing water out of a boat with a hole in the hull.

3. Your wife or (women’s ministry leader) may be chasing off spiritually healthy church members. (If you’ve stuck with me thus far, what follows is unlikely to describe your wife, but I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there for awareness’ sake.) I have heard the following prototypical scenario from dozens of Christian women (and experienced it myself):

“My pastor’s wife is in charge of our church’s women’s ministry, and is a big Beth Moore fan. We only do Beth Moore studies in our small groups, and last year our church hosted a Beth Moore simulcast. I participated in a couple of the studies, but they just seemed “off” biblically, so I started doing some research.

I discovered Beth Moore was teaching false doctrine, preaching to men, partnering with false teachers, and doing other unbiblical things. I went to the pastor’s wife and very kindly, humbly, and patiently showed her the scriptural evidence of Beth Moore’s false teaching. I couldn’t believe it when she flew into a rage, screamed at me, and accused me of trying to create disunity in the church! My husband and I tried to talk to the pastor about it, but he seemed completely unaware of what goes on in the women’s ministry or any problems with Beth Moore, and backed up his wife. We are now looking for a new church.”

This is not an exaggeration or isolated case. I don’t know what it is about Beth Moore’s disciples, but they (especially the ones who are pastors’ wives) seem to be some of the most vicious defenders of false teachers out there. And if your wife or women’s ministry leader acts like this it could cost you godly, spiritually mature church members.

4. Your children’s spiritual lives are at stake, both at home and at church. As with any dad who works long hours, your wife probably has more of an influence in the moment to moment aspects of your children’s lives than you do, even when it comes to training them in godliness. If her spiritual diet consists of false teaching, that’s what is being imparted to your children on a daily basis.

The same goes for the children at your church. The majority of children’s Sunday School teachers and children’s ministry workers are women. The false doctrine these women consume today will be taught to the children of your church on Sunday.

5. When women are spiritually healthy, the whole family benefits. Statistically, women make up about 60% of church attenders, and, of course, 50% of a marriage. That is an enormous influence on your own family and your church family. You want those women spiritually healthy. It’s not only biblical and good for them personally, but everyone they influence and interact with benefits.

When women are taught sound doctrine, they grow to Christlike maturity. They exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. They want to share the gospel. They walk in humility, patience, love, repentance, forgiveness, and biblical submission. They encourage their husbands toward godliness. And you know what else they do?

They teach other women to do the same. They train up children who are godly. They’re self-replicating.

Spiritually healthy, mature, godly women make your life easier, more peaceful, and more of a joy, both at home and at church, because they’re working with you, not against you.

But your wife and the women of your church are not going to get the pure milk of the Word they need to grow in Christlikeness from the pantheon of divangelistas lining the shelves of your local Christian bookstore. And most of those precious ladies you shepherd are completely unaware of that fact. So they need your help, Pastor. Your bride, and the Bride, desperately need you to mind what they’re reading.

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism, Men

Throwback Thursday ~ Adam 3.0: Meanwhile, Back in the Garden, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Originally published June 26, 2014Adam 3.0

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
1 Timothy 2:12-14

Because it’s my passion to see Christian women become holy, passionate, obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, I’ve dealt with this passage a lot and done a lot of research on it. Scripture is crystal clear that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures in the church in the capacity of pastor or teacher, nor are they to hold authority over men in other positions in the church. (I’ve outlined Scripture’s case for this here if you’d like to do some further study.) And, unfortunately, there are many women in the church who are disobeying this Scripture (I used to be one of them)– some out of rebellion, and some out of ignorance. But until recently, I –and every other piece of information I’ve studied on the subject– have dealt with the issue of women stepping outside their God-ordained role in the church strictly as a women’s issue.

A few days ago, a friend of mine asked for my opinion on a Q&A video produced by a well known pastor. The pastor was asked, “Is it a sin for men to listen to women speakers [female Christian conference speakers, pastors, teachers, etc.]?”

And that’s when it hit me. I’d never heard this question addressed, or even asked, before. First Timothy 2:12ff is always dealt with from the perspective of women and towards women, that this is a women’s sin issue.

But to treat this role rebellion strictly as the sin of women is to pour gasoline on the fire. If it’s a singularly women’s problem, then it naturally falls on women with a right understanding of God’s word on the issue to deal with it, right? And if these women are the ones who have to confront and deal with this sin, even at the local church level, they’re being placed smack dab in the misappropriated role they’re trying to fight because they’re being asked to do the job of elders and pastors whose responsibility it is to maintain order and discipline in the church.

In other words, my Christian brothers, it’s not your discerning sisters’ job to handle this sin of role busting in the church. It’s yours.

The fact that there’s even a need for an article like this, never mind that a woman is writing it, is indicative of the pervasiveness of the problem. Why haven’t I heard any pastors or other Christian men exhorting men in the church to stand on God’s word, properly fill out their own role in the church, and also deal with the problem of female disobedience to this Scripture? Why are Christian men becoming accomplices to women’s sin by seeking out female pastors and teachers to be their spiritual leaders? I believe there are three reasons:

1. Adam 3.0
Give Genesis 3–the story of the Fall–a read through the lenses of 1 Timothy 2:12. See any similarities between what happened in the Garden and what’s happening in the church?

The man is off somewhere, not fulfilling his role of spiritual guardian, leader, and protector, leaving the woman alone and vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Satan tempts the woman to sin and she succumbs. The woman then entices the man to sin, and instead of standing on God’s word, refusing to sin, and correcting her, he actually joins her in her sin. And when God calls the man to account for this whole scenario, what does the man do? He blames the woman.

Was Eve responsible for her decision to sin? Of course. That’s why we even have 1 Timothy 2:12-14 in the Bible. But God gave the man the authority and God held the man ultimately responsible. That’s why we see passages like Romans 5:12-14 (and others) attributing the sin in the Garden to Adam rather than Eve.

While there are many faithful pastors and Christian men out there diligently laboring to be godly teachers and leaders in the church–and praise God for those men!–there is a large and increasing number of men in our churches, both pastors and laymen, who are failing to fulfill the role God has called men to in the church. Pastors who will only preach what tickles people’s ears. Men who sit in the pews refusing to teach or serve or lead or even attend faithfully.

As it was in the Garden, the Christian men are nowhere to be found as Satan creeps into the church and attacks women with this temptation. And, as God called out then, could He be calling out now, “אָדָם, – Adam- Man, where are you“?

2. Men are lazy.
I know that sounds harsh, but, guys, before you get your boxers in a bunch, please hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that all men are lazy or that women are never lazy or that men are lazy in every aspect of their lives. What I’m saying is that, in this particular instance of women stepping outside God’s role for them in the church, too many men are sitting back with the attitude that, hey, if somebody else is willing to do the work why not let her? Instead, women (not to mention boys and younger men) should be seeing men in the church step up and say, “I’ll study hard so I’ll be equipped to teach that class.” “I’ll preach the sermon, not my wife.” “I’ll be willing to shoulder the load God has given me instead of pushing it off on a woman.”

3. Men are afraid of women. 
Not afraid of them physically, but afraid of the ones who will make a scene, cause strife, split churches, get pastors fired, and generally make life hell on earth for anyone who dares to put his foot down firmly on the word of God and say, “You’re in disobedience. You need to repent and step down.” I know these women (and, of course, there are men who do this, too). I have had plenty of them come after me, and, having a husband who’s been in ministry for over 20 years, I’ve seen plenty of them attack pastors, staff, deacons, etc., and I don’t blame men for feeling scared. But men, Jesus has called you to defend His Bride from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, and feeling scared doesn’t excuse you from doing what’s right and biblical. Look to the courage Jesus exhibited on His way to the cross. Look at Peter, Paul, James, and the other apostles as your example of valor as they chose flogging, hardship, jail, and martyrdom over compromising the word of God.

And a special word of encouragement to pastors: your church doesn’t need someone who’s afraid to rock the boat, even if that’s what they want, and even if your job is on the line. It needs a man who will stand for Christ, no matter the cost to him personally or vocationally. You can’t call your people to do that in their own lives if you aren’t willing to do it in yours. The God who was strong enough to save you out of the pit of hell is strong enough to find you another job and provide for your family. Be faithful to preach and carry out the word in season and out of season. You can do it. Trust Christ. He’s got you.

God has given women a phenomenal, and much needed, role in the church. He has given men a different, yet equally phenomenal and much needed role in the church. For the local church to function in a healthy way, both men and women have to fill out our own roles correctly. And, guys, we ladies can’t and shouldn’t have to do your job in addition to ours.

I realize this is a more stringent tone than I usually take. Peter, Paul and the other apostles probably raised some eyebrows when they used a stringent tone, too. But when a house is burning down, the fireman doesn’t tiptoe in, hand you flowers, and politely request that you, pretty please, come with him. And that’s where we are in the church. The house is burning down around us. And, in the end, this article is not meant to be a castigation of pastors or other Christian men, but an impassioned plea from a church lady who wants to see her sisters make it out alive.

Help us. Please. Be the heroic men of God that you have the right, the calling, and the responsibility to be. Because, despite what some of the women of your church might say, that’s what we, and the body of Christ, so desperately need.

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 publishing 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.

Church, Encouragement

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
Show your pastors some appreciation by encouraging them!

Originally published February 23, 2018

I hope you have the blessing of sitting under good, biblical preaching at your church. I do. I’m always so thankful to hear God’s word beautifully preached in my own church, and I’m thankful for the all of the other godly men out there laboring faithfully each week to proclaim the truth of the gospel to the sheep God has entrusted to them.

Are you thankful for your pastor and a church that rightly handles God’s word? Are you telling anybody you’re thankful? Are you telling your pastor?

The ministry is a tough job, and pastors need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes it’s the little things you say and do that can be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier and more joyful. Proverbs 25:11 says:

Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor (and don’t forget your associate pastor, minister of music, youth pastor, etc.!)

1.

Pray for your pastor

Some specifics you can pray for:

💭 His wife and children

💭 His stress level, and for peace

💭 His finances and provision

💭 His marriage, and that he will be a good father

💭 That God will grow him in his understanding and handling of Scripture

💭 That God will grow him in discernment, and guard him from being influenced by false teachers/doctrine

💭 That God will protect him from temptation and lead him to repentance when he sins

💭 And here are even more ways to pray for your pastor.

Remember to tell your pastor you’re praying for him, and ask him if there’s anything in particular you can pray for him about.

2.
Show Up

First of all, Scripture says you’re supposed to be a faithful, active member of your local church. Second, it’s very discouraging to pastors when church members who are perfectly able to attend faithfully simply choose to let other, non-essential things take precedence.

3.
Be Present

Pay attention, be engaged, and have a pleasant look on your face during the sermon. If you’ve ever stood in front of a group of people, you know how easy it is to tell who’s “with you” and who’s not. And the more “with yous” there are out there, the more encouraging it is.

4.
A Word of Thanks

Just say thank you. Thank you for being my pastor, for being faithful to the Word, for encouraging me, for working so hard, for studying well…

5.
Submit to His Leadership

Take Hebrews 13:17-18 seriously:


Yes, there are abusive pastors out there. Yes, there are pastors who are flagrantly disobedient to Scripture in their leadership. If that’s your pastor, leave that church and find a pastor you can trust (yes, I know it’s hard), and whose leadership you can submit to. Don’t be the constantly complaining, argumentative, nit picky thorn in your pastor’s side.

6.
Don’t Major on the Minors

If you do need to speak to your pastor about something you disagree with him about, whenever possible, try to make sure it’s a biblical issue rather than an issue of preference, and make sure you do it in love and kindness, not in an attacking way.

7.
Wait, Mr. Postman…

Isn’t it nice to open your mail or e-mail and find something besides bills and bad news? Send your pastor a note, card, or e-mail of encouragement.

8.
C is for Cookie (and Calories)

Think before you bake. When I want to send someone a little token of encouragement, my first instinct is always to bake something. But a lot of pastors, like everyone else these days, are dieting, so use wisdom. Maybe a gift card to his favorite store or restaurant, a book by his favorite author, or a service he needs performed would be better. Here are some more ideas if you want to give your pastor a token of appreciation.

9.
A Word Fitly Spoken

Tell your pastor something you learned from the sermon or how God has been growing you through his preaching. Let him know how your Sunday school class is maturing. Tell him about the good progress that’s being made in the committee you serve on or the ministry you serve in.

10.
Perfect Timing

Do not pull your pastor aside right before the service to discuss anything that could wait until later. He needs to be focused on preaching and worship. And don’t detain him for long after the service, either. He’s probably hungry, tired, has to go to the bathroom, and wants to get home to his family. Make an appointment during the week.

11.
Nobody’s Perfect

Remember that your pastor is human. He’s going to sin. He’s going to get things wrong. Don’t assume he knows why you’re upset with him. Don’t hold a grudge. Extend the same grace you would to anyone else, and forgive.

What are some other ways we can encourage our pastors?