Every so often a blogger puts together a list of things they wish a pastor would tell his congregation. And while the lists sometimes have some valid points, they more often than not wind up come across as saying, “I wish my pastor was less knowledgeable and confident in what he says.” Which, while I’m sure it sounds nice, really isn’t all that helpful, unless you’re looking for your pastor to validate an unhelpful lifestyle of being tossed about upon the waves of doctrine.
Nevertheless, there are some things I do believe congregations need to hear from their pastors more often than perhaps they do:
1. “Because I love you, I’m going to tell you the truth.”
We sometimes bristle at statements that don’t make us feel good, and so we assume that our pastors are unloving when they say something we don’t like. Yet, this attitude more often than not finds its root in our sin, not our pastors’ failure to be sensitive.
Pastors should never be afraid to express the truth of Scripture and we in the congregation need to be reminded that it’s because our pastors DO care that they tell us the truth—even if it’s something they know we’re going to reject due to our inability to hear it.
2. “Make sure I’m not wrong.”
This might be the second most important thing a pastor can say to his congregation. It takes true humility to say to your hearers, “Don’t take my word for it. Check what I say against the Scriptures. If what I’m saying doesn’t line up, don’t believe me.” Good pastors want their congregations to be like the Berean Jews of Thessalonica who examined the Scriptures daily to see if what the Apostle Paul taught was true (Acts 17:16).
This is something our pastors do exceptionally well. They work diligently to correctly interpret and apply the text they’re preaching, but they don’t assume they’re beyond making a mistake.
3. “This is the gospel…”
I love it when our pastors just have a gospel explosion in the middle of a sermon—especially when it’s completely unplanned! No Christian can ever hear the gospel too often. None of us move beyond it or out from under it. The gospel is the source of our hope and what we celebrate each Sunday when we gather together.
The gospel has the power to bring death to life, to soften the hardest heart and the “fragrance of life” to those who are being saved (2 Cor. 2:16). If there’s one thing a pastor should never leave out of his message on a Sunday or out of his counselling appointments, it’s the gospel. If it’s truly of first importance, the gospel must be clearly shared.
What are your thoughts on this? What do you pastors need to tell their congregations?