While visiting some blogs that I read from time to time, I came across the posting of a local church in my area. It reads as follows:
“One of the common challenges that most evangelical churches face is the “Feed Me!” plea. In a recent nationwide survey of churches from different styles and traditions all found that about 25% of the people in the pews were dissatisfied with their church and one of the main complaints was that they were not being fed. This survey helped many of us in local church leadership to prepare for a long overdue and difficult conversation with our church families. The conversation is about how God designed us to be fed.
While the role of the teaching pastor is clear: “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2
But what of the role of the individual believer? 2 Timothy 2:14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The bottom line is that one of the primary roles of the teaching pastor is to remind the people to study for themselves so that they might receive full spiritual nourishment through the ongoing, daily study of the word of God.”
I felt compelled to respond…so I did. The following was my response:
“While I agree with the assertion that it is the responsibility of the pastor/teacher to encourage and exhort the people to study God’s Word for themselves, it’s important to note that the “complaint” of the people is specifically in regard what they are receiving while in the corporate worship setting.
A good number of people are dissatisfied with the teaching they are receiving while at a church service. Much of this dissent I would attribute to the ongoing affects of the “seeker-sensitive” movement that has been taken to an extreme by many churches. The employment of that movement within evangelical Christianity has led many churches to be overtly concerned with the unbeliever in their midst, while leaving the developing or mature Christian behind. Often, setting an example from the pulpit that would lead many to believe that the solid teaching of God’s Word is not as important as making people feel comfortable and welcomed within the walls of the church building.
The extreme employment of the “seeker-sensitive” movement also conveys the notion from the pulpit, though perhaps not intentionally, that the Scriptures wouldn’t really capture the attention of the people, especially a non-believer. Or even, that God’s Word would simply put people to sleep, so we better find something that will hook them…like a movie clip, or a hit radio single with spiritual overtones performed poorly and loudly by a musically over-zealous praise team.
All of this to say, it is the primary responsibility of the elder/teacher/pastor to not only teach God’s Word, but set an example, from the pulpit, to those in their congregation of how to do so. It’s interesting to note in Acts 6 that when the elders became distracted with other causes, though worthy, they found others to take those responsibilities and said, “we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (v.4).
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says that he praises God that though those in the congregation had once held an allegiance to sin, they now held a better allegiance to receiving a high standard of the teaching of the Scriptures. Note Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.”
Finally, Paul again notes that it is the responsibility of the elder/pastor/teacher to present his flock mature in Christ through the teaching of the Word. Colossians 1:28 says, “Him [Jesus] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
Some other helpful Scriptures in this regard are:
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
(1Timothy 5:17 ESV)
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
(Acts 2:42 ESV)
“And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
(Acts 5:42 ESV)
Pastors cannot expect their people to be unashamed workmen who correctly handle the Word of Truth if they are not setting the primary example. So, while it is important for Christians in the pews to be students of the Scriptures themselves, it is vitally important that their pastors (who display a love of, devotion to, hunger for, reverence of, allegiance to and knowledge of the Scriptures that can be followed) lead them!”