The Truth about Criticism of Your Pastor or Church
Your pastor is not a machine. Your church is not an organization. They are both living organisms (Revelation 22:1) giving life in service to the Lord by serving people. Your pastor is open to assistance, critique, support, and even correction, but not criticism. Criticism always harms. The nature of pastoring is shepherding, nurturing, and caring, so when you criticize your pastor, the church, or the people in your church, your pastor will feel personally assaulted (1 Peter 2:17).
Some examples of unhelpful criticism toward pastors:
1. Back-handed compliments, like: “you’re finally preaching the Word,” “it’s good to finally feel the Spirit again,” “Your preaching is getting better,” and “it was nice to finally see you at our event.”
2. Name-calling, like Marxist, Communist, racist, liberal, people-pleaser, puppet, agent of Satan, false prophet, prima donna, white supremacist, T.V. preacher, etc.
3. Saying your pastor only cares about __________ people.
4. Telling them about every faction, sedition, or negative gossip thread.
5. Keeping them informed about how many people are leaving the church or the success that’s happening in someone else’s church
6. Condemnation, like: “your kids should behave better,” “your spouse should _______,” or “you should ________.”
These examples fall under the “criticism” umbrella because they possess an innate suggestion of blame, inferiority, judgment, or malice. They tear down, rather than build up (1 Thessalonians 5:11-22). They will not give you a better pastor. You will just get a wounded leader, which is a favorable position for satanic attack.
Be careful of the “itching ears” syndrome. It is tempting to choose a church where you can hear something that makes you feel good about yourself or your decisions instead of feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit. If the church is to be a light to unbelievers and a place for discipleship for believers, sermons will not always affirm what’s easy to hear (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
What to do when you want to criticize:
1. Pray about what to say and if you should say anything. Then say it in love (Ephesians 4:15). Don’t assume that the Holy Spirit is using you to judge your pastor, who has been called by God to minister to you (John 10:2-4).
2. Don’t assume that a Bible study group, memory verses from childhood, or the books you’ve read make you a greater expert on theology than your pastor who has advanced degrees and has studied Scripture for countless hours. Ask them questions about your theological concerns, rather than assuming you know it all. Your pastor is responsible to God for preaching and teaching sound doctrine (Titus 2:1-5, 1 Timothy 6:20, Romans 8:1). Of course, depend on the Holy Spirit most of all.
3. Go directly to whoever concerns you and have a kind conversation. Do not run your complaints by your friends for consensus. This is gossip and faction (Galatians 5:19-20, 2 Corinthians 12:19-21, Matthew 18:15-20).
The Church may be under duress, but “The Word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 5:8). It thrives in darkness. You can “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
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