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10 Pastors I'm Worried About

In light of too many pastors who either seem to burn out (from being over-stressed) or flame out (from a moral failure) in ministry and the fact that the church seems to be trending toward decline and irrelevance within our culture - what might be driving this? Sam Storms lists several pastoral leadership profiles and tendencies that may help serve as "red flags" and warning signs in our church and ministries.

excerpted from Sam Storms

(1) I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.

(2) I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology. Sure topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation. But to pique interest in the unchurched, church-growth pastors have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.

(3) I’m concerned about the pastor who is a chief executive instead of a contemplative sage. The pastor is called to a contemplative life of prayer and study of the word (Acts 6:4; cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). From that life his ministry flows to the church. The pastor was never called to be a rock-star communicator or bench-mark business leader. He was called to model redemption and shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4; cf. Acts 20:28). Perhaps pastors should consider putting away their John Maxwell and Nelson Searcy books and picking up the Bible and the church fathers.

(4) I’m concerned about the pastor who uses the pulpit to milk members instead of minister to the saints. It was the angry atheist, Richard Dawkins, who asked Ted Haggard (back in the day) why he needed a multi-million dollar sound system that paralleled that of MTV to teach people about God. I think that’s a question that deserves an answer. Why do pastors need to build bigger and better on the backs of God’s people? I think the answer may be rooted in the human heart. Francis Chan seemed to have caught that vision when he was still pastor in Simi Valley. And if we think we need to build bigger barns, perhaps we should pray about church planting as a viable alternative.

(5) I’m concerned about the pastor who makes growing the church the goal instead of glorifying God the goal. There is no biblical mandate for growing the church. Sure there is one for propagating the gospel and making disciples. But the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. There is nothing in Scripture, except pride, that drives pastors to drive the flocks they are supposed to be tending.

(6) I’m concerned about the pastor who builds his ministry with people instead of building people by his ministry. It seems I’ve said this already, just differently. But here I’m speaking to a philosophy that often underlies many of the abuses in the church. For example, a well-known mega-church pastor once advised me to think of people in seven-year terms. He explained that people generally burn out after seven years. And if I wanted to build a big ministry for God, I would need to leverage those seven years. Funny, I don’t recall God asking pastors to leverage his people for the pastor’s dream of building a big church for God.

(7) I’m concerned about the pastor who cultivates a culture of dependency on himself instead of cultivating a culture of community within the church. 

(8) I’m concerned about the pastor who reads and teaches the Bible literally instead of literarily. 

(9) I’m concerned about the pastor who contributes to the culture of consumerism instead of combating idolatry. 

(10) I’m concerned about the pastor who sees the church as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as a custodian of Christ’s kingdom. 

(Read the full post HERE)


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