Recently, while reading a book on pastoral counseling, I was reminded of the sacred responsibility of preaching. The book was The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to every pastor and elder who seeks to better understand and fulfill his calling as shepherd. There is much in this book to digest and put into practice. I found myself underlining something on practically every page.
Toward the end of the book, one quote in particular caught my attention. It reminded me how important my preaching ministry is to our church’s culture and practice. The authors write:
“But as the pastor, you are the primary shaper of the church’s culture. Because you preach most frequently, your beliefs and values are far more influential in steering the culture of the church. What matters to you usually defines what matters to the church. This influence is a grave privilege” (Heb. 13:7).
It’s hard to argue against the pastor and his preaching shaping the culture of the church. However, the question should be raised: “What is the character of that pastor and the content of his preaching that is shaping the church?” Too often the excesses of the pastor are displayed in his preaching and thus similarly and sadly shapes the culture of the church as well.
As pastors, we must be keenly aware of the influence we have in forming the culture of our gatherings. For those of us wanting to avoid the pitfalls of a church culture wrongly shaped by the preacher, here are three suggestions:
1. Don’t treat the pulpit as a personal political platform.
This is a very easy thing to do and a trap both liberal and conservative preachers fall into. For example, The Civil Rights Movement gave us the blessed legacy of struggling for freedom, justice, and a way forward from discrimination. But because it was lead by preachers (per se), it also left many subsequent preachers feeling the need to use the pulpit for social protest and action. As a result, today many mainline black churches are nothing more than community improvement associations because the preachers are more versed in community development than in the proclamation of the atonement of Christ. As the coming presidential election approaches, there will be a parade of politicians and pundits in the pulpits across our country. And yet, we should be reminded that the church’s pulpit is for Christ’s agenda and the message of his eternal kingdom come to earth, not the fleeting and fickle agendas of the social left or the political right.
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SOURCE: The Front Porch