John Stonestreet and Maria Baer on Does Your Congregation Want You to be a Pastor or a Parrot?

Pastoring is always a difficult job. I can’t think of another job, in fact, in which someone is hired to do one thing (typically, lead and disciple God’s people) but evaluated on a completely different thing (namely, growing the audience and the budget).

Pastoring during coronavirus seems even more unenviable. Zoom stock might be way up as the new preferred platform for corporations and schools, but there is no digital substitute for the sort of face-to-face work pastoring requires.

When to close down was a tough decision. When to reopen is even more difficult. If pastors choose to strictly adhere to state guidelines, they will upset people. If they ignore or relax those guidelines, they upset others. In almost every church I know of, pastors face a no-win proposition right now.

In addition to navigating a global pandemic, pastors must also deal with our already intense and only intensifying cultural firestorms. While we all must navigate the issues of race, sexuality and gender, criminal justice, political divisions, and other markers of our fallen human nature that dominate this cultural moment, pastors face expectations that many of us don’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this phrase on social media recently: “If your pastor doesn’t preach about X from the pulpit this Sunday, it’s time to find a new church.” Same phrase, but the X changes with the headlines.

Don’t get me wrong. As the true account of the human condition, the Bible has this quality of universal relevance. Pastors should make the connection between the timeless truths of Scripture and our particular context, both in their preaching and in their leading. There are times that to not address something from the pulpit is to be louder than addressing it, and churches that never address controversial issues risk giving their people the impression that the Bible is our own personal, private collection of encouragements rather than the personal, public and true account of the human condition.

At the same time, the loud demands placed today on pastors to not only hold but to articulate our approved opinions reveals more about us than about our pastors. After all, if we are confident our pastor is called by God and entrusted by Him to lead us into His Word and His will, that leaves little room for making demands on what he teaches.

Also, our loud demands that a pastor “talk about subject X,” almost always means “say specifically what I want him to say about subject X.” But that also means we’re not really looking for a pastor or a teacher anymore. We’re looking for a parrot.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Maria Baer