Eph 4:11-16 NKJV And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (14) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (15) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (16) from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
One of the challenges of being a pastor in this age of information is dealing with all the information that is out there. One hundred years ago sharing a strange or heretical teaching was much more difficult and time consuming than it is now. Presently between Facebook, thousands of websites all spouting their brand of theology and YouTube, Christians are being inundated with teaching that many are ill prepared to deal with. To further complicate the situation is the general mindset of not digging into what is heard or being taught. I am not saying people are lazy, but we are used to getting things easy and quick so hearing something you like being taught can quickly influence the hearer to the point they feel this teaching is correct without ever studying it out.
For a pastor and a teacher, it is challenging because what people come across on the internet can carry more weight than what a pastor or teacher that Jesus Christ has called to minister to them may teach. It is not just the internet, it includes radio and TV. I am not saying everything they hear or see on these lines of communication are wrong, just that so many Christian take this information as coming from and expert and can begin to minimize the local ministry. Christians can become glib and without knowing it can slide from a believer in the truth standing on the foundation of the Word and prayer, to becoming a “fan” supporting what someone is teaching without understanding what the Bible actually says. Christian are to study and interact with the other believers the Lord has place around them. Unfortunately, from here it gets worse. A person can easily slide into the view that only the expert they have lined up with can understand the Bible and totally minimize their own ability to read and understand what God has shared in His Word. This is dangerous ground for a Christian to stand on.
As a pastor of a small church, I realize most people want to take a mental shortcut and skip the study and prayer involved with understanding the Bible and they simply gravitate towards ministries with large numbers behind them. A person can begin to trust in the numbers and not actually understanding the Word. The Bible’s teaching on numbers paint a dark picture. Mat 7:21-23 NKJV “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ (23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ and again Mat 7:13-14 NKJV “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. (14) Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Many begin believing Biblical Truth is based on the numbers. The more that attend a church, the more valid the ministry can replace how a ministry should be validated. As a small church pastor this can be challenging. Let us not forget those that have not studied the Bible yet thinks they are an expert because of what they have read or heard in a favorite book, internet, radio, TV, or favorite pastor.
I am fortunate that the saints I am a pastor for dig in and search the scriptures discussing with one another what is stated in the Bible and what it means. This was not the case when I first became a pastor. I tried many approaches to have a meaningful discussion with those that thought they were experts without taking the time to study. The process I now use with people like this is simple and I think more effective. I simply talk and ask questions and it goes like this:
- I ask what it is they believe. I let them tell me what it is and I do not try to argue a point if I see it differently. I let them talk.
- I then ask if that is what the Bible says. Again, I let them talk and share what they believe the Bible says about the topic.
- I them ask if that is fully what the Bible states and we check it out. (having the Bible on the smart phone is a great tool)
- If I believe differently than they do I ask if they would “consider” a different take on the subject and study it out so we can talk about it in a day or so.
I have found allowing them to do most of the talking has allowed me to share a different view on a subject without them feeling they need to challenge it. Many during the next time we get together admit they really had not studied the subject out and appreciate being able to get into the Word and study it out. Slowly they grow in confidence in their knowledge of the Word and become less susceptible to falling for “every wind of doctrine”.