Relevant Magazine recently posted an article entitled “5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church.” This post is a response to reason #1 in the article, which they called “I’m not being fed.” There are many ways that someone might come to the conclusion that they feel they are not being fed at church, but the primary reason is typically the preaching, and I believe the article’s focus was on this.
Note: This is a response to one potential reason to leave your church. There are always many other factors involved in deciding to leave a church, and the decision is rarely simple. I am not suggesting that someone should leave a church solely based on poor preaching. I am simply stating my points as to why I believe poor preaching could be a potentially valid reason to leave.
Their argument starts by recognizing the responsibility of pastors for feeding their church. However, in the third sentence, this recognition of responsibility is thrown out the window by stating how easy it is to overlook while dealing with all of the other management aspects of running a church. I don’t doubt that there are plenty of things to do, but this article clearly has a low view of the pastoral responsibility to feed their flock.
Four sentences in, the article shifts the responsibility off of the pastor and on to the congregation and from that point on, until the end of reason #1, nothing else is said about the pastor.
To sum up their argument in my own words: Don’t leave your church if the preaching is bad. It’s your fault if you are not being fed because you have the internet and you can go and download sermons from other people. Besides, good preaching at your own church doesn’t really matter because you should be focusing instead on finding out how you can contribute.
If the pastor of a church is consistently lacking, and channeling their time to other things so that their primary focus is not on feeding their flock, then I see that as a valid reason to leave a church. I agree that there are many important aspects to a church outside of the preaching, and that church-goers should try not to be in the habit of going to receive but not to contribute anything (though, there are times in life when I believe that is ok). But the most important aspect of the church gathering is to hear the gospel preached. It is not being spoon-fed to want to hear the gospel preached well, as the article alludes to.
Take a look at Acts 2. Many were gathered, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost. But Peter stood up and gave a powerful sermon and preached the gospel. After hearing this, the people were “pierced to the heart” and needed to know what they ought to do now because they believed! And over three thousand people believed that day. The belief did not come because everyone there was contributing, or because everyone looked up some sermon from a “greatest preacher of all time” on their smartphones (I know – they didn’t have smartphones back then…). Belief and conviction came because the gospel was preached in their midst.
If a pastor does not have that desire and that kind of heart for the gospel, most of the congregation probably won’t either. Everyone has a responsibility to be feeding themselves, but I believe the main course should be served by your pastor.
Do you agree/disagree? Have any additional thoughts? Let me know below.