“Few people grasp the preacher’s challenge. Where else in life does a person have to stand weekly before a mixed audience and speak to them engagingly on the mightiest topics known to humankind: God, life, death, sin, grace, love, hatred, hope, despair and the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Who is even close to being adequate for this challenge?”
(Albert Mohler, The 2013 Preaching Survey of the Year’s Best Books for Preachers)
I’m currently a full-time seminary student and part-time pastoral intern. About a year ago, prior to landing at my current church, I was looking at church job boards and other similar sites, trying to find a ministry position. My wife and I were stunned by how many pastoral job descriptions required some sort of ‘vision’-related skill or experience and how few required ‘accurately handling of the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15).
From reformation21 comes a cautionary tale of how Evangelicalism has fallen into this trap and exactly why it is so dangerous:
The process is simple. A church has a pastor. The pastor receives from God a specific vision and mission for his church. The church follows the visioneer. …
Combine unbiblical ideas of a pastor who receives visions from God with slick fashion, cutting edge marketing, and shameless self-promotion and you have a cult-leader in the making.
This is an excellent warning for pastors to find the church’s mission in God’s Word rather than an extra-biblical word from God, and for church members to follow the Great Shepherd rather than a cult of personality.
Barton Gingerich: “The expectation that congregational leaders give off the ‘right vibe’ has become standard in some religious circles. Some churches today assert that a pastor should be an enthusiastic, extroverted purveyor of hilarity, therapy, success, or optimistic activism. These pastors are supposed to be casual, invested with ‘big dreams’ to do ‘big things for God,’ handy at enabling a good time during congregational worship, ‘innovative’ with outreach (i.e. the kids find the pastor sufficiently hip), and—perhaps most important of all—adept in the vocabulary of self-help and therapy. In other words, people want to feel good spiritually, and the pastor is to model that in his own life.”