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Friday, October 15, 2010

How Shall a Pastor Be Judged?

I have heard that no pastor has ever been fired for preaching a short sermon.

No, but these pastors may have to stand before God and give an account of short sermons.

Sermons are neither better nor worse because of their length. Some messages just don’t take as much time to deliver. However, there is a problem when the length of the sermon is more important than the content. In fact, the preacher should spend more time making sure he is delivering God’s message than how long the sermon is.

The evaluation of the sermon should not be based upon what the people applaud or criticize. The preacher should ask if he has done what God has asked. If so, he must know that God is pleased.

That won’t keep the criticism away. It may even get him fired. Many times people do not like hearing God’s word. They want something that is short and uplifting all the time. Many people do not like a message that gets to the meat of the Word. They don’t want to be challenged to be more, do more, or even change what they are doing at all. A few good jokes sprinkled in the sermon makes them laugh. Getting out early will make them very happy.

So, they go to the preacher and tell him that this is what people need. “Keep it short. Keep it light. You’ll run people off if you get too deep, Preacher.”

Somehow churches stopped focused on maturing people in the faith and defined success as a larger attendance each week. In fact, the answer of whether or not Sunday was a success is more often answered with something to do with the number of attendees.

I can’t find that criteria for success being used in Scripture. Whether people like the message, how long the message is nor how many people attended determines the success of a message according to Scripture. The command of the Lord is to make disciples. The question I believe preachers will be asked is, “Where are the disciples you have made?”

Don’t get me wrong? I am neither an advocate for trying to get people mad at me for my sermons or making sure the crowd is smaller next week. That, too, would be a breach of my calling. What I am trying to say is that each preacher will be asked to give an account of his actions someday.

The question you must answer is whether you have made it harder for your preacher to fill that leader who encourages discipleship. Have you encouraged him in the long sermons which are hard to deliver but made impressive impacts on the lives of the hearers? Have you given him an “Atta boy!” for a sermon that was convicting but may have upset the wealthiest family in the church?

This month is Clergy Appreciation Month. (I don’t know what the real title is.) I don’t think you should appreciate your pastor this month alone. In fact, I don’t think we should have a month like this at all. I believe that godly people will always appreciate a pastor who preaches God’s word.

Remember, no matter what you say to your pastor, he will have to give an account some day.

But as far as that goes, so will you.

Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

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