[firstchapter:1. Warning Signs of a Bad Pastor]
By Pastor-Missionary David Cox
For Pulpit Committees and those seeking a church By Pastor-Missionary David Cox
Description of Article: This is a study on what to look for in choosing a new pastor, (candidating pastors) or evaluating a pastor. My background is that I am an independent Baptist Fundamental pastor and missionary since 1986. I have visited probably close to a thousand churches (I would say 800+) on my years of deputation in my ministry, and I have examined many of those men from a missionary point of view, when they were not really “trying to impress me”. My options are perhaps of no importance to most of those in the pastorate, but to some, perhaps they would be important, and to churches candidating for a new pastor, maybe they would be words of gold.
See tract: Church42 Destitution of a Pastor
Someone wrote me asking me what are the warning signs of a “bad pastor.” I am a pastor and missionary for more than 20 years, and I answered his email, and I thought that the topic would be excellent for the website. I have addressed many of these issues in Spanish in my preaching, and in books and tracts that I write in Spanish, and I am slowly translating them into English so that English speakers can also benefit from this. [chapters:200,right] One of the biggest problems in finding a new pastor of an existing church is that of the candidating process. Very simply put, it seldom works well if at all. The men who come in are just “introduced” to the congregation and public committee, and actually they don’t get to digging very deeply into the candidate’s life. The issues and key points of what makes a man a man of Godand therefore a good pastor are passed over by the candidate committee, the pulpit committee, or the deacons. These issues are relevant to me, because I am getting older, and my church here on the field in Mexico will have to find another pastor one day, and it is my job to teach them what they need to know from the Scriptures to find a good pastor. Let me just say before I get into any of these topics, “home grown men” should be given double or triple preference over head hunting. Instead of going out and finding a new “head” for the local church, those assistant pastors who have labored under the vision and ministry for years would in general be much better because they understand the direction and tone of the church over the years, and even though any pastor who comes in new will change some things, they would probably be better at keeping the general direction the same.
[chapter:1. Make sure he is Really Saved]
1. Make sure he is Really Saved
As a pastor, I think the number one requirement for a new incoming pastor is that he is really saved. As a pastor that preaches and witnesses constantly, I see “a lot of bull” on this one, and folks, not all those preachers and pastors that pretend to be great men of God are even really saved. You can trace down a tremendous number of chaotic messes and church splits after the leaving of one good pastor to a string of bad pastors and just a big mess afterwards that never resolves itself to the fact that the incoming pastors are just not really saved men.
Apart from confessing Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, true salvation needs to be seen in their personal life. I understand this as being that we are truly saved not by JUST CONFESSING CHRIST, but by embracing the morality of God that Christ represents. In other words, you are saved by your faith, but true salvation will ALWAYS 100% of the time be actually seen by a history and track record in that person’s life of committed living like Christ lived.
We are saved by receiving Jesus Christ, and this is faith in his work on the cross, and faith in his person (morally speaking). If the Pulpit Committees investigation of a pastoral candidate doesn’t get past the trivial stuff of where he was born, studied, wife’s name and background, kids, etc. to what is his real character, they will know his character in the future when it is too late.
The problem in countless pastor-church conflict cases are either the leaders in the church or the pastor (or both) are unsaved. There is no substitute for a pastor who is committed and dedicated to following the morality of Christ as seen in Christ’s person and explained in the many verses of Scripture. He lives out his salvation if he is saved (what you want). If he is not really saved, you will suffer under his carnality and sinful soul.
Note that in my tract: Church42 Destitution of a Pastor I explain that 1Timothy 3 allows or puts the precedent of a “proving” before entering the office. This is a concept that few churches use before accepting a new pastor, but is necessary to fully establish the person of minister before committing the leadership and authority over the church to him. The bottom line really is that a hypocrite is an unsaved person, and a pastor that is a hypocrite, well, it is like letting a drunk drive your car with you in the back. You were wrong to get on board or let the drunk run things. It can go nowhere but end in a disaster. So what you are looking for is that the pastor really lives a good relationship with his Lord. If he doesn’t have that personal (out of the pulpit) relationship with Jesus, he doesn’t need to be running things nor telling others how to live their lives.
1Cor 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
I know some people will take issue with my interpretation here, but Paul did not see Jesus Christ in his lifetime (my opinion). Perhaps Paul is refering to having seen Christ on the Damascus Road. But Paul defense in this passage is that his “seeing Christ” was what gave his ministry validity. I have done studies on “horao” G3707 before and it is used at times in the sense of “knowing” or “experiencing” something, some event or some special knowledge. Within the argument of Paul here, he is defending the fact that he lived of the ministry that God called him to (1Cor 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 1Cor 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.)
A good exposition of this passage brings out that Paul’s validation is that he was really saved, he had “experienced” Jesus Christ as his Savior. If one a moment we can see this, then we see a great need for truly saved ministers, and that is doubly more important when it refers to the leader (and leaders) of the local church.
A church falls into ruinous times when their leadership has unsaved men in it, directing it, influencing it. I have heard from a number of pastors that their church is “on the rocks” because their deacons are unsaved and fighting against any kind of evangelism, or church growth. This is extremely difficult when the leadership is corrupt.
[chapter:2. Make sure he is the example of Christ]
2. Make sure he is the Example of Christ
Living the example of a “Man of God”
In my tract Church16 The Example of the Man of God, I explain the importance of the man of God being somebody who is an example of Christ. The need of a local, physical, present example of Christ to lead the flock of God is at the center of God’s commands concerning the local church, and it is how we learn morally (through teaching theory and principles, and by examining first hand examples of those principles in people’s lives). There is no other way to “learn morality”. Unfortunately for many churches, they will learn the moral example of their pastor, and it is not Christ’s example. This issue is at the heart of of what the ministry and the church is all about. To not put your full force of energy and importance behind it is for form hypocrites, liars, and Satan’s kids.
In education, they say more is “caught than taught”. I think there is a great truth here. God could have had Jesus appear a few days before his crucifixion, but he wanted to present a person that at least those present knew from his childhood. The moral character of God needs to be lived in front of people for them to really understand it (to catch it, or to internalize it). Satan knows this, and he uses this principle against us. He builds a local church with a great “man of God” that is a hypocrite and doesn’t live the life of Christ before his people, and by that, he turns everybody against the entire idea of church, salvation, Christianity, etc. Witnessing to people, many people defend their Christless lifestyle by pointing to some church example where some false prophet as pastor hurt them, or lived as a hypocrite before them. This is sad, but this underscores the need for good churches to keep high standards of professional and moral conduct active and as a priority for their ministers. It is not a small thing for a pastor to take money which is not an honest thing before the finances of the church, or to have an “indiscretion” with a woman in the church or worse with an underage girl. These things totally disqualify the pastor and taint the church and the reputation of the church before the community.
When people sit under a true man of God that personally lives what he preaches, then they “catch” this moral lifestyle, and become Christlike as their pastor is Christlike. This is an extremely important element in selecting your new pastor, whether you are a candidate committee or a person looking for a new church.
How do you discern that “morality of Christ” in a minister?
I don’t know except to tell you that it takes some time, and it is not done in interviews alone. If you are on a candidate committee looking for a pastor, then you need to get the pastoral candidate in many non-formal arrangements (meals, church fellowships after services, social events and outings, eating in people’s homes, etc) so that you can observe how he lives morally. This is how you discern his character, and it won’t be done at all over a single weekend when he visits your church. I would recommend that you (the church) invite the pastor and his family to come live in the area and preach for 1-2 months so that you can arrange these many visits and social exchanges.
In a church setting (you are looking for a new church) things can be more difficult. In a small to medium church, the very circumstances lend themselves to the pastor and you getting to know each other. By that I mean he will probably show you some individual attention. Invitate him out to eat, or to eat in your home. Get to see him and his family (especially the relationship between him and his wife, how he treats her) in order to gain information that you can process as to whether he is “on the level.” Anytime there is a social event, or even in his own Sunday School class if he has one, you can get to know the personality of the individual. If he is going to a Bible conference or funeral or preach in a nursing home, etc. offer to go with him. The idea is to be in the car with him to get to know him on a personal level. In this honeymoon time, he should be trying to court you as best as he can. If he has no time for you, if he is discourteous, or short, and always having to break away for other things, then he is probably not a good guy.
The basic thing is that preachers go into showmanship mode when they are in a church setting. This means that at church, once people start showing up, he goes into “his performance”. This is usually sweet and helpful. Every preacher does this. But you don’t get to know much of his real personality when he is in this mode. You need to get “under it all” to see the real man, and see what he really is.
In a large church, this is a very big problem. Large churches function differently from small churches. Wolves love big churches. The bigger they are, the better are things for him. In a church of several thousand, there is no way any preacher can honestly give every family a lot of individual attention, so they pretend to give attention at staged large group settings where he can act in showmanship mode again. Then he has surrogates which are pretty faced people that do the actual one-on-one contact. These pretty faced people are actually really good people. But so often they are shields to protect the pastor’s bad personality from being discovered. They essentially “cover for him”, and this means it is next to impossible to really know the pastor as a person. Only a few privileged people in the pastor’s inner circle really know what he is like, and they are sworn to secrecy about revealing any real facts about him. They have pat lines and key propoganda phrases that they are taught to always use when anyone inquiries as to how the pastor really is. “He is a real man of God”. “He is a man of prayer.” (How do you know somebody is a man of prayer. How many of these people who say that actually are kneeling for long hours praying with the pastor?) You should brush aside these propoganda phrases and try to see the truth for yourself.
Another way to investigate this is to go where the pastor is now ministering or to talk with the people there. That will open many accusations and problems in itself, but if the people doing that are mature, perhaps it would work. Usually pastors don’t leave a church if everything is okay (unless they are retiring). So the situations and circumstances that caused the pastor to look for another church are likewise problems, that depending on your view (if you are the pastor or are the congregation) you will judge one way or another as to their being “legitimate” or not.
The key here probably is to see people that have sat under that pastor, look at his family and friends, and see how he has influenced them for Christ. Very hard to discern, but that is the way.
I think questions about how the pastor related to the church people, the congregation as a whole as well as the church leadership would reveal a lot about how he really is. Is he a contenious person or a humble person frustrated by others that is trying to fix problems before him in the ministry. See my tract ch30 The Man of God must not be contentious. There is a precious balance needed here. According to Jude 1:3, we are to contend for the faith, but we are not to be contentious (always ready for a fight, but moreso, always trying to pick a fight with somebody).
What particularly are you looking for?
You need to be very keyed in on a few very important points that may present themselves in the person.
1) Sarcasism. Simply put, this is a bad sign. It shows informality between the pastor and others. We probably all do it sometimes, but it shouldn’t be.
2) Lying or bending the truth. So many people simply manipulate “the truth” to make it accommodating for their own personal needs. This is a sign of the child of the devil.
3) Courtesy and formality with each other. Showing up on time, being kind, nice, and courteous with others, most especially his wife and kids. You will be stung horribly if your pastor doesn’t understand the love of God (being “for” or “pro” others) and this is seen by his life, living that before others. See tract: Church42 Destitution of a Pastor where I explain that the man of God should not have a character of constantly “striving” with people (2Tim 2:24-26). See Tract: The Man of God must not be Contentious
4) Service to others instead of everybody serving him and his purposes. We all have seen great men, but the greatest spiritual giants is that man who although he is at the top of all pyramids of greatness, washes the lowest servant’s feet. This is seen in being very quick to give orders, and very slow in doing things instead of commanding others to do it. See tract: Church42 Destitution of a Pastor where I explain about the true minister of God doesn’t see his position as a “lordship” over the flock of God (1Peter 5:2)
5) True love. What is that you say? God defines Himself as love in 1John. He also says that all those who know Him and commune with Him will likewise have love as the center of their being and life. They will love their brethren (others in their spiritual fellowship). Love is defined as my sacrifice for your benefit. This has to be the true heart of a good preacher. He must be willing to constantly as a life quality he is practicing forever, to sacrifice personally for the benefit of others. There is no ministry nor service without this as the foundation for all we do in the ministry. The false prophet establishes his heart on the foundation of eros, that is “You sacrifice for my benefit.” They will use people to get their desired goals. Why do most pastors have programs where the people do the work and meet the goals the pastor wants, so that the pastor can be pleased? Why don’t the pastors go out door to door to build up the church and benefit economically as well as spiritually the people of God under his care? What happened to the concept of a Pastor who walks the countryside with his sheep, defending them from predators, and providing for their benefit?
He sacrifices himself to benefit his flock. That is at the heart of the concept of a pastor-church relationship. True biblical love is one’s sacrifice for other’s benefit. This attitude comes across very loudly in some ministers, and it is completely absence from other men’s ministries. When a pastoral candidate comes to your church to candidate, he will have an interview with the pulpit committee. It is probably unreasonable that he comes without knowing how much money he will receive, but you can still see interests and priorities in how things go. How interested is he in 1) how much he will make? 2) how many perks and extras he will get? 3) how will his authority work, how much authority will he have (“total” authority is what a wolf wants and fights for), etc. A true man of God is going to be marked by and more concerned with how he can spiritually benefit the church, and what kind of spiritual problems the church has, how spiritually well the people are, etc. A spiritual pastor is going to be sizing up the church as far as how he will do his spiritual ministry with them.
There is a very decided different in a pastor and a wolf as to their view of authority. The pastor sees the main thing as serving the people of God (even if it means sacrifice of his own self), and authority comes along with that service and ministry so that he can do the job. A wolf sees his acquisition of authority, a position, power, control, and he understands that he has to put in his “9 to 5 minus 2 hours for lunch” in order to get that control, so he will comply with some obligations minimally, but there is to be no wishy-washy stuff on HIS AUTHORITY OVER EVERYTHING. I am a pastor, and my position is that God clearly states that the pastor governs the church (1Tim 3:4-5 where the ruling of or presiding over his household is parallel to the “taking care of” the church). So I believe pastors are given the governing function as were shepherds of animals were in Israel. The imagery is clearly the pastor makes executive decisions for the group, and not the other way around. But by the same token, God imposed the pastor-sheep imagery on the spiritual leader-community of faith of the New Testament, and this imagery in the shepherd-sheep (animal) world was saturated with austerity, i.e. the pastor slept with the sheep on the ground, the shepherd’s possessions was what he could easily carry with him, and he built little or no permanent structures.
Mobility and austerity was the order of the day with shepherds and sheep in Israel, and that very important point seems to have been lost in the shuffle of modern Christianity, i.e. a church is not a real NT representation of the community of faith if it doesn’t have adequate facilities, i.e. big, nice building, owned by the group. The parallelism is broken it would seem, because the only thing we can think about is physical buildings as being the “work of God.” It would appear therefore, the NT example and precedent was that the money of God’s people collected when principally for the salary and sustenance of their ministers, and buildings were a very low concern and part of the early church’s budget. Taking this as the NT precedent, meeting in a rented place or one of the member’s homes, much of the modern craziness over buildings comes to a clear perspective, it is not biblical. There would be no sin in a group having a building if they pay for it without throwing the rest of the ministry into submission under a building program, but things and possessions will be left for the Antichrist church one day, so why invest so heavily in them to the exclusion of spiritual assets (souls saved, Christians edified and themselves ministering). A good pastor will have his head screwed on right about this matter of finances.
6) Balanced. I think that the Bible teaches that Christians are supposed to reasonable people. By this, being unreasonable is a real problem. 2Thess 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. What are the differences between the two.
Logical and thinking. I think that a reasonable man in God’s scope of things means that the person thinks in a logical way. Reason appeals to him, and therefore anyone with logic and the authority of the Scripture can convince a “reasonable man of God” to change to that position. On the flip side, unreasonable is a concept that needs some examination.
Sound mind. This seems to come up as a special requirement or exhortation to the women, and it basically means a logical, reasoning way of thinking. 2Tim 1:7 “a sound mind” (G4995 σωφρονισμός sophronismos) or Titus 2:4 “soberness” . G4994 – σωφρονίζω
(G4994 σωφρονίζω sophronizo (so-fron-id’-zo) 1. to make of sound mind, ie. to be self-controlled). The idea here is that his life is under subjection to a biblical, logical (reasonable) way of understanding things. Prudence is another concept that enters here. (G5428 – φρόνησις G5428 φρόνησις phronesis (fron’-ay-sis) n. 1. mental action or activity, i.e. intellectual or moral insight.) A prudent person is one that has moral and intellectual insight, and they use that refrained, controlled mindset to control their life so that they don’t sin, nor get into problems (usually with what they say). This control, or “girding up the loins of your mind” 1Pet 1:13 is what a mature, spirit filled Christian does, it is how he is (character-wise).
2Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
So this goal that we are looking for is a kind of mind and thinking, way of acting, actually it is a kind of personality, and it is not complicated, not entangled, not deceptive, scheming, but rather one of simplicity. There is “truthfulness” in how this kind of person lives his life, and thinks and acts.
On a negative side, this kind of ideal pastor is not filled with vices.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
These character qualities are never found in a spiritual Christian. Let’s look at some of them as they may be found in a “bad pastor”. “Uncleanness” means moral impurity. I see some pastors touching women and girls that are not their wives, and this is a bad sign. “Lasciviousness” means licentiousness, or a knd of ignoring of the laws or principles of God. Some preachers think that it is okay when they lie and take what is not in their rights (openly given to them by the public rules of administering the church). “Hatred” (G2189 ἔχθρα echthra) means 1. hostility 2. (by implication) a reason for opposition. Some preachers are just really offensive kinds of people. They seem to provoke opposition by how they are (again personality). They are quick to be offended, and they interpret other people’s actions and words as a threat to them and their way of doing things, so they are the kind of “my way or the highway” kind of person. This is a bad personality trait for a pastor of a church. Why? Because the church works on a good will basis, and from the laborers, the money, the attendance, the participation, etc. everything is based on people giving and sacrificing because of their is in the right place. Somebody who works on the basis of instilling fear and dominion over the people is just going against what a church is. “Variance” (G2054 ἔρις eris) 1. a quarrel. 2. (by implication) wrangling. Again this is not a Christian trait, and it is definitely not a spiritual Christian’s trait. Quarrels will come within the typical church set up, but a man of God will seek to avoid the quarrels, uphold God’s will, and keep the peace. He is never one who relishes a good fight, or looks for them when he can avoid them somehow.
“emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings” – All of these words basically are on the same theme of what we dealt with above. A man of God is a man of peace. He neither imposes his will over everybody else’s neither does he cave in to the ones who are the most powerful, the richest, or that scream the loudest. He maintains a biblical position, and treats everyone in such a way as to come to consensus among the people.
Consensus. The early church appeared to give a hearing to different viewpoints, and the ones that had the most logical, scriptural based position won. Wise pastors, good pastors are ones that do not see the “right way” (which they have come up with) as necessarily what the church will do. They must build consensus. If they do this, slowly and methodically convincing others through wise exposition of Scripture, logical reasoning, and prayer that the Holy Spirit will give unity as to the course of action, these pastors have no problem getting money. Their people will give what is their capacity to give, and probably a whole lot more. But again, this is a sound mind way of thinking. There is a rejection of pushing people because “I am the chief and everybody obeys me” syndrome. They lead by proving to others that their way is God’s way. Good pastors are open to the possibility that they may make mistakes sometimes, and maybe sometimes God will use people in the congregation to show him the right way.
Non-competitive. The idea behind like “envyings” is that the proper spirit of a pastor is that he is not in competition with anyone.
2Cor 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Our society is highly competitive. But Christians should not be competitive one with another. This means individually within a church, nor church again church. We should be comparing our progress against what Christ wants, God’s will. A competitive spirit in a church will kill the proper motive of serving God because you love God. When soul-winning efforts are pared off as competition, there can be no winner. The motive for what you do is completely wrong. It is not because you love Christ, but because you hate to lose. (See tract ch31 3Bs of success: buildings, bodies, and bucks which examines the problems of setting worldly goals instead of doing God’s work and pleasing God.)
[chapter:4. The Financial Testimony of a Good Pastor]
4. The Financial Testimony of a Good Pastor
Perhaps we should not leave the person and testimony of the pastor so quickly. In the various places where God lists requirements for the “man of God”, for the bishop, or exhortations by Paul to Timothy, a younger minister, it seems there is an overwhelming repeated element on the minister’s liberty from covetousness.
Liberty from Covetousness. To concisely put this into perspective, God sees our worship of Him as in danger of being hijacked by our worship of mammon (riches and possessions). This is a spiritual danger for everybody, and therefore God demands that the person who is leading the community of faith be a living example of a renouncing of riches and possessions as the goal and end of our life. In the USA, this issue has been sorely “skipped” as of any importance, because you threaten your own financial economic base as a pastor if you preach too heavily on this issue. Tithing and giving are instituted by God to counteract this spiritual threat of economics overwhelming the spiritual. God talks about our devotion to him should be more important than our economic losses, or even family losses or even loss of our own life.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Vision of celestial outweighs earthly kingdom. Again the principle is clearly biblical, but the application and emphasis of this spiritual principle is lost in modern Christianity (except in third world nations where it is more likely to be adopted by believers of moderate possessions). The point is this, we as Christians should understand our situation, and we entered this world with nothing, and we will leave it with no physical possessions. What we invest in spiritually in eternity is the only thing we will have in heaven. All of our physical possessions and our “quality of life” issues are not eternal. Therefore to be a true disciple of Christ, we must intensely reflect that in our life.
The pastor must be the leader of this movement, and he must be the drummer to beat the drum constantly on this issue. He must focus his life, the church’s affairs, and constantly “harp on” investing spiritually in heavenly riches and treasures to the neglect of the earthly. A true pastor will identify with this.
Mobile shepherd wanderer. He takes the OT pastor approach of accumulating as little as possible in life’s walk with the sheep. Real sheep don’t have hands like monkeys, and they don’t carry much with them except a lot of wool (the fruit of good eating and a healthy life). This emphasis is what a real pastor will pick up on, and constantly repeat to his “sheep.” On the other hand, a wolf has his mindset completely different. He wants to take advantage of the sheep, so he slaughters them at his convenience, i.e. he keeps them around to take advantage of them when and how he desires. His mindset is to pound on the sheep to produce physical economic “things” (accumulate money, buildings, possessions, etc) as “marks of success” in the ministry.
Wolf Signs. There is a constant emphasis on success in the ministry as being buildings, bucks, and bodies. The true shepherd knows his flock by name, individually, and the flock is known individually by him. The wolf doesn’t like that kind of personalized stuff unless it nets him gain. The wolf will always skim, or just cut deep into the pie. The money, the possessions, the numbers, that is what he is interested in. His focus is on bigness, because he knows where there are great numbers of sheep, more and more can be missing without notice. In a church with a $1000/week budget, the essentials are barely covered, and a missing $100 will set off alarms all over the place. In a church with 10,000 people and a weekly income of $250,000, you can lose $20,000 a week and nobody will really notice. This is their thinking, the bigger you get the pie, the easier it is to get a bigger piece of pie for you. Do you see how easily belief is involved with conduct? People form their beliefs around what they desire to do (conduct), and their doctrine gets formed from what that doctrine will allow them or restrict them from doing. A wolf concentrates on absolute total (dictatorial) control of the group, because that is the only way he will get what he economically wants.
[chapter:4. Failing to fulfill the Spiritual Requirements for Pastor]
4. Failing to fulfill the Spiritual Requirements for Pastor
See tract: Church42 Destitution of a Pastor
In my tract, Destitution of a Pastor, I explain how and why a pastor can be destituted. Just like in politics, a sitting president is extremely hard to remove, and a dictator is almost impossible. When you invite a false prophet, a spiritual wolf, into the position of “SUPREME LEADER”, you have already destroyed the church. To remove him is next to impossible, so God has given us the “way out” by not letting such a one in in the first place. It is the fault of pulpit committees that have no spiritual insight, that are looking for a “quick fix”, or that are just plain lazy, or even spiritually corrupt, having fallen into the “good ole boy” system of thinking that so many of our good churches are destroyed within a few years after a pastor change. When the pulpit committee wants another minister or ministrial group to approve their pastor, then they shouldn’t even be doing the job of getting the new pastor. They are the “good ole boy” system, and that is corruption outright. If you are on a Pulpit committee looking for a new pastor, download or read online my tract and study it carefully. The majority of the new pastors that turn out bad had warning signs before they were put into office. The people indicated to prevent wolves entering just weren’t aware nor looking for these warning signs.
[chapter:5. A Real Dedication and Submission to the Word of God]
5. A Real Dedication and Submission to the Word of God
Probably the best indicator of a real serious dedication to God is the attitude of a student of Scripture towards the Word of God. It is one thing very distinct to “use the Word of God”, and another to understand it and promote it. Here what is most important for a good pastor is that he never is proud or haughty in his own conceits. By this I mean some people refuse to hear other people’s side of things, and in church work, this is hearing how and most importantly why people of opinions differing your own. A good man of God is always self-conscious and doubtful about his own understandings and conclusions of Scripture, and he wants an over abundance of confirmations from other supporting passages of Scripture, from historically conservative and orthodox men of God, and from other ministers and men of God in his own life, ministry, and church that confirm his conclusions. Many pastors are so important that they never let anybody else preach in their pulpit, and if any such situation should arise where somebody else is preaching, the pastor is typically running around not listening to the sermon. These men don’t really care about other men of God and what they can learn from them spiritually.
I am a pastor of 20+ years of a church here in Mexico. I have 2 Masters, and lot’s of experience preaching. Yet I like to let some of our men that are preaching and teaching to have the pulpit on occasion, and I just sit and listen. I will not say that everything these men say is new, nor most of what they say is new. I have heard most of what they preach before, and much of it, they heard it from me first most probably. But listening, really listening and thinking about what they are saying strikes thoughts in my heart and mind. I find myself writes notes throughout these sermons which are usually very good points that desire more elaboration by me in another sermon or Sunday School class.
In other words, although I don’t have to have their approval to believe something, they confirmation and point of views on Scripture are valuable to me. It confirms my own understandings of Scripture “just a little bit more.” This develops an attitude of seeing value in the preaching and teaching of other good men of God. This attitude is very important. Of course what is happening in most of Christian American is just the opposite. American Christianity has developed what I call the “good ole boy system”, and this is where nobody’s accepted unless he is part of my club, i.e he’s a “good ole boy”. So these people go around repeating each other’s foolishness, and they leave Scripture exposition pretty much to just a few who are like demi-gods and nobody can refute them.
Some of our men have different opinions about things from me (their pastor), and I don’t much see a problem with that. These issues are not essential doctrines, and their explanations would seem value to me, even though I have a different point of view. The existence of differing opinions means the pastor or leader is tolerant of people expressing their different opinions. This is a healthy sign, of a person that is not a megomaniac. Some pastors have egos and swollen heads so big, that they can only get through a barn sized door. These people are not men of God. Stay away from them. The mark of a true man of God is his dedication, love, devotion, and promotion of God’s word. This means he is all for the Scripture, but he is constantly studying it and challenging HIS OWN POSITIONS with Scripture. This is only done by constant study of Scripture, and by realistically evaluating opposing or contrary positions. As preachers come and go, only those who live or die by the word are worth anything at all. Make sure there is a deep, burning desire of your pastor towards the Word of God. He should seek to bring in God’s view (with specific passages that are pertinent) to any discussion or consideration.
[chapter:6. Make sure he can preach]
6. Make sure he can preach
It is like having a “chef” (supposed expert cook) that simply cannot make food that is good for us and appetizing. What good is he? He may keep an immaculately clean kitchen, he may be a genuis in other areas, and he may be a superb organizer and administrator, but if he can’t cook, he can’t do anything right. I will step on some people’s toes here, but most preachers don’t preach very well. A good preacher or sermon is not measured by decibals, or how loud the guy yells. Nowhere does that enter into any consideration. Likewise I dare you to show me one single place where Christ or one of his apostles or disciples interjected a single joke into a sermon. To those biblical ministers, their work was too serious to make flipant or light-hearted comments when they had the opportunity to talk to a listening crowd about eternal life and things that pertain to eternity.
What is good preaching then?
First of all, it is Bible based preaching, and the entire previous chapter on a burning desire and love affair with the Word of God should be again repeated. Good preaching is biblical preaching. Nothing else works.
Secondly, it is brave preaching. Folks, there are no cowards among God’s true faithful ministers, but there are a whole lot of them that fill the pulpits around the world. The dare of the ministry is one of faithful, and that boils down to dollars and cents, I am sorry to say. Brave preaching is one that obeys God even when it obviously is “cutting one’s own throat.” As a preacher-pastor, you establish a work on the basis of something, the content of your spiritual message. If you refuse to deal with the sins of the people sitting in front of you week after week, then you are a coward. Brave preaching addresses the worse and most common sins of those in your church.
This without exception will hit the base, core group of your church, and if you don’t do it regularly, once you have to on a “rare occasion” (cowardly preaching), then you will lose your core group. Biblical preaching which is good preaching is preaching which has only 1 purpose, and that is to spiritual change people from their sinful nature to the image of Christ, and the only means to do that is through the forceful and compassionate explanation (exposition) of God’s Word. This is the “bread and butter” of a biblical preacher, and he must not only “be able to do it”, he must be committed to doing it, and doing nothing else, and moreover he must do it extremely well ALL THE TIME!
Good preaching is compassionate presentation in preaching. Let me just get down right nasty here. Calvinist’s (the stronger the Calvinist the worst) are just cold. They have no heart, no passion, and their false concepts about biblical election have corrupted their hearts so that they think like the OT Jew, “No matter what I do, or how little I do, I am elected, so I will get the full blessings of God without any participation on my part.” They even kill any attempted efforts to motivate God’s people by Total Depravity. If EVERYTHING WE DO IS PUTRID, then all your sermons are putrid, and then why even try? That is why good preaching is seldom seen in die-hard 5 pointer Calvinists.
As a preacher, you have MOVE AWAY FROM THAT EXTREMISM to get real with God. On the other side of the spectrum, super strong Arminianist types seem to be so heavily convinced on the emotional and compassion elements that they skimp on the Scriptural exposition. There is a human element in the work of God, and whether God is “behind the scenes” making it happen or not, you must consciously put forth effort or God will not be in it! (Yes I tip more towards the Arminianist side than the Calvinist, unfortunately the only serious Bible students seem to be Calvinists! Go figure, we are ruined no matter what!) So good preaching has to have human passion and emotion. If you are fully 110% convinced about what you are preaching, sit down and let somebody else do it! We must have compassion! We must excite people about the truths of God. That is seen by how I personally live what I preach and what I believe. Good preaching is done by people who are on fire for God, not people who are in a nursing home with one foot in the casket and the other on a banana peel!
There is a secret to this. Good preaching comes from a man who is fully, completely, and absolutely convinced that the Word of God is powerful to change people from sin to life. He doesn’t get involved in the Calvinist mind games of “what if” or “we can’t”, the brave preacher DOES! He is committed to the Word of God, and his deep personal and public belief that the Word of God transforms people from sin to Christ is what is his driving dynamo that powers his ministry, his preaching, and his personal life. This is another absolute must have in a preacher. Don’t settle for anything or anybody less. You will regret it. Unfortunately, find this rare dinosaur! Yep, you guessed it, there is a secret there too! God will freely and graciously give you such a preacher if you (as a church or local group of God’s people) desire it. What!? No! Most churches want the pastor to be spectacular, to come and solve all the problems without them moving a finger. It doesn’t work that way folks. You get, (God gives you) what you desire. That is why most pulpits in America are filled with demons, Satan’s spokesmen, because the people want it that way. They would lynch any real man of God in their pulpit, and they don’t deserve any better than what they got. (with those comments, I probably lost most of my readers!)
[chapter:7. Make sure he has, lives, and knows good doctrine.]
7. Make sure he has, lives, and knows good doctrine.
Unfortunately, Satan has brainwashed most of Christianity, yea, all of it. How can you say this David? Very easily, because he has convinced all Christians to believe whatever people say without examining it. If you are a Baptist church, and you are looking for a pastor, you look for a Baptist pastor, right? But once the fellow comes and says he is “Baptist”, all doctrinal inquiries seem to be arrested, and you believe him to question no more! So since when can you accept the doctrines of a person you hardly know? Any false prophet will come and identify with whatever label you want to use (Baptist, Fundamentalist, separated, KJV only, etc) to get the foot in the door, and that is it. If they can verbally accept the label once or twice in the interviews, they are in. They keep their mouths shut for a year or two, and then they begin changing the church’s doctrine. Oh that the church’s doctrine was pure to begin with, right? So you need to understand that in looking for a good pastor, doctrine makes conduct, and conduct is justified by doctrine. The two are intertwined forever and can never be separated. People who don’t want to witness become 5 point Calvinists, and people who want 100% emotionalism become Pentecostals, and people who are more wanting to participate in the reaping of souls for Christ tend towards a more moderate position, etc. Maybe I am making this easier than it is, but the truth is, is that doctrine and conduct are one.
2Tim 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
See Tract: Church45 Grading your Bible Teacher
[chapter:8. Make sure he can pray.]
8. Make sure he can pray.
To my own discredit, I have to say that I have seldom or never seen any real men of prayer. As a pastor I try to be one, and create that creature among my own church, but in reality, I well know that real men of prayer are just not out there.
What is a man of prayer?
Being a man of prayer comes from one’s personal relationship with God. Yes, there are a lot of Christian’s who have some kind of “good” or “normal” relationship with God, but a real man of prayer simply gets an aweful lot of impossible things done from his prayer closet. I consider that the production of American ministers over the years of my life has been to produce ministers that get things done principally by programs, secondly by money, and thirdly by emotional manipulation (cultic practices). Prayer warriors are even on the horizon. See Tract: The Three b’s of Success: Buildings, Bodies, and Bucks.
To be truthful, I am sick even with my own mindset and practices, because seldom is my response to any situation, problem, or opportunity to prayer about it. Sure, as a pastor, we all talk the talk, but nobody seems to be powerful enough in prayer to get anything really accomplished. Our attitudes and the reality of our lives is this: (1) Pray about it so we can validate our human efforts, (2) go do anyway what you want to do. If you read Mueller’s experiences with the orphans, then you see an example of a minister who prayed things done.
Maybe we are so weak physically, that we cannot actually pray for days and nights for a solution without human effort. I know our lifestyles don’t help. We are constantly playing with junk, “stuff”, Internet, TV, cable, computers, cell phones, xBoxes, and there is no end to this junk. It invades our lives, and it chokes true spiritual life (remember the Parable of the Sower, the “weeds” choke the seed so that there can be no real fruit!). Makes you wonder if any of us are really saved.
To me, a real man of prayer is not about the amount of hours he spends praying but his personal relationship with God, and the amount of requests that he sees answered. He must be a wise man well able to discern what “NOT TO PRAY FOR” because so many of our prayers are just wishes at the wishing well. We want unhealth things that will destroy us. Real prayer power has to resist praying for unbiblical things that are not in God’s will. Real prayer power shows the wisdom of God in pursuing things central and important to God’s work in men’s lives. It is not about material provision principally nor about health, it is about spiritual change in people. Again we see the focusing of a good preacher on being brave, confronting the enemy outside and inside of our own group, and even our own carnal nature.
He has and develops an prayer outlook. This is a constant resorting to the power of prayer to get spiritual (and non-spiritual) things done in the ministry. He attacks things first in prayer, and resorts and relies on prayer more than any other way to solve problems, do the work of the ministry, change hearts, etc.