How a Pastor CAN and CANNOT Lead the Church through the Pulpit

  1. Through the pulpit, a pastor can lead the church by how he preaches. People will remember how we preach long after they forget what we preach.

Passionate preaching of the Word of God teaches church members to value the Word in their own lives and demonstrates that the future of the church will be based on the Word. I recently preached what I knew was not my best sermon. Giving it a 4 out of 10 would be generous. (And, whenever you are reading this, you can be sure that I recently preached a 4 out of 10 sermon!). After the worship service, three church members came up to encourage me. Actually, I think it was to console me!. One comment stood out. A gentleman said, “I really appreciate how much you value the Word of God.” Even though what I preached that day wasn’t as helpful to this gentleman as I would have liked, how I preached still encouraged him to love and respond to God’s Word.  

Faithful preaching of the Word teaches church members how to read and study the Bible for themselves and how to teach the Bible to others. As we preach, we are able to give the congregation glimpses into how we approach the text, the questions we ask, and the applications we draw. Over time, preaching will lead the church toward solid interpretation and application of Scripture, which not only helps individuals as they read their own Bible, but also develops discernment for listening to other sermons. 

  1. Through the pulpit, a pastor can lead the church through difficult situations, but cannot lead individuals through their personal issues. The pulpit is a place for wise counsel but is not the place for counseling.

Biblical preaching, over time, will shape the hearts and minds of our congregation. As we preach the Gospel and the full counsel of God’s Word, we can lead people to think biblically about various situations they might face in life. In this way, pastors can lead their congregation through personal, local, and cultural crises. 

However, the pulpit is not the place to address individual issues in front of the full congregation. Rarely, if ever, would a pastor do this by using the person’s name. More often it occurs when a pastor uses the sermon to address an issue or make a point that directly affects one person. Do nott be passive-aggressive from the pulpit. If possible, speak to the person the week before the sermon if there is concern that a sermon topic or point might feel overly targeted to that person. Lead the church by providing wise, biblical counseling from the pulpit; just do not attempt targeted or nuanced counseling from the pulpit. 

  1. Through the pulpit, a pastor can lead the church into the future, but cannot use the pulpit to dictate future decisions for the church.

Preaching is a wonderful opportunity to lay out the preferred future for the church. In fact, helping people see where the church needs to go and who the church needs to become is a key responsibility for leaders. The preacher must be careful, though, of using the pulpit to make decisions for the church that should be made by the staff, committees, or congregation as a whole. Preachers prepare the canvas, but they should be cautious about choosing the colors. Preach in such a way that members are excited about the future and equipped to use their gifts, talents, and resources to do the work of the ministry.

  1. Through the pulpit, a pastor can lead the church toward a shared ministry focused on Christ, but cannot lead the church to see the pastor as the crucial figure for the church’s future.

“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” (Exodus 1:8; KJV)

“Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” (attributed to Nikolaus Zinzendorf) 

As pastors look toward long-term leadership at a church, imagining anyone else in the pulpit can become difficult if we begin to see ourselves as the primary leader of the church. Instead, we must remind ourselves that Jesus leads the church, and we want to preach and lead in a way that puts all the focus on Him.

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5; ESV)

Pastors can lead by raising up new leaders in the church, sharing the pulpit with other, biblically qualified preachers, and ensuring that every sermon proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ. We must battle against a perceived form of religious celebrity. And, we must battle against leading the church through the pulpit toward any sort of codependency on us. Faithful preaching will exalt Christ and equip the Church for the future..

Owen Nease is the Pastor of Emmaus Baptist Church, Moore and can be reached at owen@emmausokc.org.

Similar Posts

Pastors and Financial Integrity

Ministry should be messy at times, but the same should not be said about our books. Brothers, a lack of financial integrity has the power to destroy our ministry as fast as a moral failure. Money, or the lack of it, has this unique ability to expose the depth of our character. And as my father always told me, “our ministry will never rise above the depth of our character.” Marked by that thought, here are a few humble attempts to help. Not to become professionals, but simply to stay faithful.

Pastors leading the church to be involved in Missions

More than Mission Minded, more than supportive of Missions, Jesus said to the early church leaders, “GO make disciples of all nation…” Mt.28:19. Most Pastors I know do encourage the church to pray and give towards missions. Putting our spiritual “boots on the ground”...

How to READ Your Emotions

One of the most important things we did as young children was learning to read. We would be severely handicapped if we had never learned to read.  So many things we enjoy doing today we would not be able to do if we had not learned to read words.  Think about it. In...

Incorporating Apologetics Into Your Ministry

A few years ago I talked with a college student who had been a part of our ministry at Olivet.  As we talked I mentioned some of the other students in our community that he had graduated with who were known as followers of Jesus during their high school years.  In the...

Ministry is About Relationships

John Maxwell popularized the leadership quip “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” True enough. Hang around in ministry for a hot minute and you recognize that even leadership depends upon relationships. Oklahoma Baptists recently welcomed Ken Sande to our...

How to Handle a Property Accident at the Church

“There’s been an explosion at the church!” Seminary prepares a pastor for many things, but no class, lecture, or seminar prepared me to handle the damage done to our church building when a compressed natural gas tank torpedoed through it, leaving over a hundred...

Using Emotions Wisely in Pastoral Ministry

In the last article, I began an examination of 8 essentials of core human emotions to harness their energy in practicing relational wisdom. There, we saw God’s design in our emotions, their complexity, and how they can drive our behaviors. Let’s turn our attention to...

How to successfully follow a long-term/beloved pastor

Oh, “you have big shoes to fill” has been uttered through the vocal chords of church members for decades without a scriptural filter to stop it. Both seasoned and unseasoned pastors have been on the receiving end of the “sharp” message meant to acknowledge what was and forewarn what is.

Dimensions

Humor me for a moment. Let’s play a word association game. I’ll say a word and you respond with a word that comes to mind when you hear my word. Ready? Here’s the word: relationship. What comes to mind? The average American would likely associate that word with other...

Three Gospel Relationships

When I was in elementary school, our classrooms were heated by a boiler. It would heat water to the point of steam which would then travel through pipes to a radiator and heat the room. This is literally an “old school” method of heating.              One day our...