What Not To Say to Parishioners
My last post consisted of a few things not to say to your pastor. This article is going to deal with what pastors shouldn’t say to their congregations. Now, for those of you who are part of a church, understand that when your pastor says some of the following that he’s not perfect–but neither are you. Lest you forget, you and your pastor are all part of the Body, the Church. There is only One Head of the Church and His name is Jesus Christ.
So what should a pastor not say to his parishioners?
- You don’t know what you’re talking about. This sort of statement is usually made when a pastor thinks that the parishioner is being disagreeable with him about his preaching, pastoring or any other thing that might be going on in the life of the church. The problem with being so brash is that we as pastors may not know what we’re talking about! However, understand that as a parishioner you’re not always right either. Nonetheless, on the one hand, the pastor needs to show as much grace to his people as possible while on the other hand, the congregation needs to show as much grace to their pastor as possible. We need to show love one toward another. Showing grace one toward another is simply the culmination of the entire Law. Paul the apostle put it this way: For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
- There’s plenty of other churches you can go to. This is one of those final last-ditch statements that a pastor will say whenever someone is coming against him rather strongly. The parishioner may be coming across strongly because the pastor is trying to run everything the way he desires as opposed to the way that God desires. On the other hand, the pastor may very well be doing exactly what it is that God desires for the church. Whenever a parishioner is wanting to leave because of not agreeing with his pastor, the best thing for that person to do is to pray for his attitude toward his pastor and then pray for his pastor to be blessed. Paul the apostle put it this way: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:18-20). Paul being a minister, was seeking the prayer support of his people. It is the responsibility of the parishioner to keep their pastor in front of the throne of Christ consistently, that he may speak boldly the gospel of Christ.
- I’m in charge here, not you. Most pastors believe that they are in charge of everything in the church. This really is not the case–although we pastors like to be in charge! Moreover, it is also true that the parishioners are not in charge–although some of them think they are! What we as pastors are responsible for is equipping the parishioners for the work of service. What the parishioners are responsible for is to follow the leading of their pastor when he is led by the Holy Spirit and to do the work of the ministry as trained. Peter the apostle put it this way: Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according tot he will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples tot he flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed tot he proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:1-5). Pastors, we are undershepherds; Jesus Christ is our Chief Shepherd. He’s the One who is in charge, not us. Church members do well when we recognize this and we lead them to the Chief Shepherd not lording our calling over them.
- I’m the qualified one here. Really? My thoughts have always been that if you have to tell someone your credentials, then you probably don’t really have them. Now I know that if you as a pastor have received your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and even your doctorate, you think that you’re fully qualified to be pastors. The reality is that the degrees are great to have, the education is great to have, but that is not what qualifies you as a pastor. What qualifies you as a pastor is 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Paul the apostle said: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict (Titus 1:5-9). These are the qualifications. The education is great to have; it helps you to know of what you speak. The qualifications are essential as they are directed by God Himself.
- Yes, I’ll pray for you. Some of you may be thinking that this is ridiculous, but it really isn’t. Too often, with our busy schedules, we as pastors will say that we will be in prayer for those with whom we come into contact and we don’t keep our word. We forget to pray for whatever reason (and there are plenty of reasons depending on how many people are in your congregation). If I can make a suggestion, I began to put prayer requests in my telephone with alerts to remind me to pray for different people. When someone comes to me with a personal prayer request, this is what I do so I will keep my word. Only say that you will pray if you really are going to pray–and I encourage you to pray for your parishioners. Paul the apostle said it like this: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:1-7). The purpose of our praying for our parishioners is so that we may bring them to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who not only brings us faith and truth, but is our Faith and Truth.
I’m sure there are so many other things that I have said as a pastor that I shouldn’t have said. You may be thinking of some other things that you ought not say to parishioners. Let me know what your thoughts are whether you’re a pastor or a parishioner.