Do You Know the Most Dangerous Person in Your Church?

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In addition to leading and teaching, pastors are called to protect or guard the flock.

In addition to leading and teaching, pastors are called to protect or guard the flock (Titus 1:5, 9; 2:15; John 21:15-19). Therefore, it logically follows that it is important for pastors to know who is in attendance and membership within the congregation. There are obviously many practical reasons for this, but one is certainly to protect the flock from potential harm.

So I ask you, “Who is the most dangerous guy at your church?”

Here I am not so much aiming at an individual as I am looking at a type of person.

Sure, we all can spot the unbeliever who doesn’t fluently speak the language of Zion, we can identify the person from doctrinally anemic backgrounds because they keep cutting themselves with the sharp knives in the theology drawer, and of course, any Calvinist can sniff out an Arminian within 20 seconds.

But I submit that these types of people are not the most dangerous people that attend your church. At least, they are not in my experience.

Instead, the most dangerous person at your church is the apparently smart guy who is unteachable.

When I say ‘unteachable,’ I mean that he has it all figured out. He is the classic, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I know what I believe” guy.

This is the guy who seems to have a lot of biblical knowledge. He can drop the 30 lb. words and effectively argue his point. Very often, he is quite involved and appears to have things together. However, he is dangerous because of the reason you would not think; he is unteachable.

Let me give you some reasons why and how he is dangerous:

1. He Is Gospel-Eclipsing

The great commission has learning embedded in it (Matthew 28:18-20). This means that being a disciple is being one who is always learning. Therefore, to have it all figured out is to deny who you are. As Christians, we have to be people who are learning; this includes everyone from pastors to children.

2.  He Is Critical

If this guy is not being moved by the ministry of the Word, he is likely gathering bullets to shoot at leaders. He sits quietly during the sermons and teachings only to pick apart everything like a Monday morning quarterback. His unteachability looks the exact opposite of what James 1 teaches:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:20-21).

(Please note this is not a repudiation of constructive criticism. This is desperately needed. There is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism, however.)

Erik Raymond Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.

More from Erik Raymond or visit Erik at http://www.ordinarypastor.com/

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  • amiradaki

    What do you do if the Pastor is unteachable?

    • Craig

      I have known this unteachable person, and although its hard they must be dealt with. His eloquence and ability to parry words quicker than our gentle pastor caused much grief. When things came to light his family was in shambles and all was no what it had seemed. Leadership finally stood with the pastor, and hard decisions were made leading to a healthier and more alert church.
      As for an unteachable pastor? I honestly believe that’s much harder to deal with because the leaders have to face it and decide what to do with someone who people felt had been called of God. If in a church like this I would ask to speak to him first alone and respectfully. That seems like biblical thing to do.

      • ePHraimAG

        greeable…..an uncounsel rather than eDify with counsel..step into My OffICE

    • Glenstephen

      Go to another church

      • NigelT

        go to another church?! not always the answer! you leave the rest to pick up the problem of a “I am THE Pastor , this is MY Church”. I agree with teacherable and understand the context of his comments. excellent and healthy debate/conversation is this!

    • Ryan

      An unteachable know-it-all pastor in the name of “protecting the flock” can turn his church into a cult, pushing out everyone who doesn’t agree. Ick. I don’t want to think about this situation. I know this does exist out there in various degrees from very mild to out-right blatent.

      • Antoine

        The Lord delivered me from this very situation; the pastor & his wife (co-pastor) were unteachable & not only that, divisive (perhaps because of the “We’re in charge here-We are not to be questioned-We know it all-be loyal to us” attitude); I won’t call it a cult, but it had all the fruit of one…

    • Teacherable

      The real core of the problem is that a single head pastor is not to be found anywhere in the New Testament.  So it’s more a problem of the systems we use rather than the men who fill the positions.  This system hurts and chews up the pastor as much as anyone. The system found in the New Testament is a community of peers, overseen by a team of gifted and called elders who work as a team.  That way the congregation offers a place for everyone and the community as a whole helps to restrain the disorderly while still giving each a place and honor to contribute.  Have you ever seen the book THE OPEN CHURCH by James Rutz.  Many good ideas there.

      Maturity isn’t sitting in the pew all one’s life. We can’t find the command for that anywhere in the New Testament either.  “til we all come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” is the goal.  “As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons (both male and female) of God.” (Romans 8)

      There are three moral failings of leaders and in this order: 1) Abuse of power, 2) Financial failings, 3) Sexual failings.  We’ve all seen #2 and 3 dealt with but how many times have we ever seen #1 dealt with.  A team of equals helps to keep this in check and everything doesn’t depend on one leader, who just becomes the bullseye for the devil to shoot at.  Although I don’t agree with other LDS theology, I think this is more how they run their local stakes…a team of peers with elected leaders who rotate from time to time as the needs dictate.  This was by the way the First Century Synagogues operated–the elected Presidents from year to year who helped to administrate and lead and to invite various speakers to come speak.  Some of course were prophets, evangelists, apostles and teachers.  All of these offices were functioning in the Synagogues out of which the church arose.  None were hireling career professionals as such trained in other places, but were raised up within each local fellowship as their gifts manifested.

      • amiradaki

        thankyou for your input never saw it that way

  • MyoungSr

    As a parallel or a metaphor:  What is the best way to choke out an occasional nagging weed?  Grow thicker grass!  (This is in fact, true for a good lawn.  If you use Roundup weed killer, you eliminate THE weed and some grass – and believe it or not, you make more room for more weeds!)

    Keep  your focus on the MAIN THING.  And, I would suggest your focus be intense on the MAIN THING (Jesus and His Cause and Calling).

    GROW MORE healthy DISCIPLES by teaching/modeling the Truth. 

    And, yes.  You, Pastor.  YOU should be GROWING more disciples instead of spending time worrying over the weed.

    If the mandate (MANDATE – not optional) within your church is doing what Jesus said to DO, Matthew 4:17-25, Matthew 10:1-14, Matthew 28:16-20…

    And BEING what Jesus said to BE, Galatians 5:22-26

    And spend our time THINKING about what He said to to THINK about Phillipians 4:8,9

    Weeds will be very uncomfortable there and the “lawn” will manage those pestiforous little buggers.

    • Keyboard77

      Best said of all!

    • Irish Pastor Tom GNCC

      I am a Pastor of a church (just need to get out there). The point above is the main way I deal with any carnal saint, simply preaching into the problem issues with the truth of God’s word without preaching at a person. For our warfare is not against flesh and blood, we are to pull down every thought and argument that stands up against the truth of who God is and what he says. In that way you get to the root and may save the person. It there is a bad attitude festering, speak on the attitude of Christ. If is wrong doctrine speak on the right doctrine, or wrong practices (life style), preach on the right according to scripture. I have saved many hours by simply, truthfully, lovingly and firmly speaking the truth in order to break the lies that lurk in the darkness and in off shoot conversations. But as Paul (appointed not elected) charged Timothy to confront and silence some people who where causing confusion and creating an augmentative atmosphere so today at times leaders need to tell some to just stop. But the above approach where the WORD of God is lifted above all (pastors, elders and whoever) and all called to submit to it’s authority saves a lot of hassle. Turn on the light before you call out darkness. Who knows you might make that troublesome soul your greatest blessing to the church if there given the chance. As to dictator Pastors who are not willing to struggle with the truth of the WORD, and give him time to struggle – I simple wouldn’t follow such a shepherd and cut my loses.

  • DandelionViolet

    Yeah, and I have been in a church where there was more than one pastor, and it sure seemed they were all unteachable in some respects.  You couldn’t ask/have questions about certain issues because there was only one answer in their eyes, and if you did raise questions, you had to be cut off for fear you’d cause others to start questioning.

  • GC

    I was able to weed out a person like this recently… The former pastor let this person do as she chose, because she was ‘called’. 
    Though this person did have potential, she did not have the experience or the spiritual maturity needed to be an effective leader.  When I came along, I worked with her, but did not let her make the decisions that I should make as pastor.  When I stood up to her (gently and in love) she left a note on Sunday morning saying the Lord was leading her to another church, so I asked her for her keys (who am I to argue with the Lord?)  She got upset and tried to stir up contraversy (she wanted me to beg her to come back, but I didn’t).   Fortunately, I had stepped carefully through the situation, gently standing my ground and it turned out good.    My church is so much more peaceful and God is moving among us! 

    • MyoungSr

      Sorry, friend.  But, the scriptures are clear…God will do the weeding.  You go make disciples.

      Unless you have a better way than His?

      • Virak_Mac

        But we’re also called to cast out the divisive among us. Division was one of the most serious sins in the early church, and church discipline was swift and sure.

      • Asking The Hard Questions

        True, I cannot tell if a person is a tare or wheat at times because the one that is ornery could be the saved one and the “model” Christian may be the tare but if they are causing problems I am required to mark those who cause divisions, reject the heretic and boot the one in open sin so that their flesh may be destroyed by the devil but their soul saved.  Paul named names with no problem so there is some weeding even in the weed is not a tare because you can’t let even wheat tear up the Body.

    • Irish Pastor Tom (GNCC)

      Of course I don’t know all the in’s and outs about your experience. But as long as you gave the person a chance to renew her thinking I would say well done. No we are not called to weed but we are called to lead, and if others don’t want to follow, then leave them go. It will be good in the long run for them too.

  • Rich Howard

    I think the problem goes a little deeper than being unteachable. Consider the possibility that the reason the person seems to be unteachable is because he or she is ‘afraid’ of being wrong. 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There
    is no fear in love. But perfect (mature) love drives out fear, because fear has
    to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (mature) in love.”

    In the Gospels we see that the Pharisees were more concerned with being right than with being loving. Jesus continually challenged their hypocrisy and spoke of righteousness in terms of mercy and love. All of us, pastors included, need to be careful that we do not fall into the same trap as the Pharisees. Perhaps the approach with this type of person is to see beyond their need to be right and help them come to grips with their own underlying fears so that they can mature in love.

    I would suggest that we gently, privately, and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance ask anyone who seems to be unteachable (or fearful of being wrong) how their actions are helping them to become more loving.

  • Guest

    the wheat and the tares will grow up together God will seperate them in the end.

  • MrGrinnly

    I think that you might be a bit generous in giving them credit for having adequate Biblical knowledge to debate leadership. I have encountered this person in all four of the churches I have served in and without exception every last one of them lacked the ability to give Scriptural support for what they complained about. They wouldn’t listen to Scripture either. They simply were there to stir up trouble.

    • Virak_Mac

      Yes, there are some theologically uninformed bullies and know-it-alls. But my experience mirrors that of the author. The worst person to deal with? An unforgiving and unrepentant guy with daddy issues who went through 12 years of Christian school, 4 years of Christian college and listens to Christian radio 24 hours a day.

      • MrGrinnly

        I have had those guys but usually I have defused the situation by sitting down with them  one on one and studying with them and having them show me what they believe and vice versa. We always walk away agreeing the each other has a point and that we will talk some more. Respect and interest helps a lot in that situation. Not always though.

    • Art Zacher

      Perhaps theye were lost and doing the Devil’s work.

  • peterhamm

    Lord, let me never ever be that guy…

  • Bishop Marsh

    The most dangerous person in several churches I have visited, preached and taught in, is the Holy Spirit. Pastors and congregations unwilling to let God do what God does, opens the flock to all kinds of unnecessary spiritual attack. (If it doesn’t fit into my “religion”, it has to be error.) Many church leaders need to revisit their belief in the full out-pouring at Pentecost. Where do you stand?

  • ePHraimAG

    The Most Dangerous Person in Your Church is that Man seperated and He that Man Gad uses. He was also known as Your Prophets that which had befallen the House-Of-The-Jews. Be well aware that Greater Light does exist even as Your Churches Burn with Your women and Your Children. Be aware….those men are not of Office given but only an Office Gifted and not Of Man either.
    The Most Gifted Man can level tiers Of the many false even ON Days Of Mount Carmel. If it is Your children You are worried Of…beware again that The Bears would also tear them for brash and bold Words even to He who High favoured in aged of yrs.
    One must be aware that also Nations that were counted heathen were attacked By christendum but so few where equestration to bring light into a Place.
    Even the Name David is evident Of a Rascals Name that lost, no-mind its vessels.

     

    • Virak_Mac

      Say what?

    • ServantHeart2012

      Seriously?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PN7SHIL4BK4HNWYJISBYZHOC3Q LindaB

    I think an appropriate title would be one of the most dangerous people in your church. There are a few that can really rip apart a congregation if left to do their thing or if they are not approached. In keeping with the grass analogy  I think it is a shame we expect others (such as church leadership) to do the weed eating when we are all responsible for the upkeep of the lawn :).

  • Teacherable

    I am going to disagree with the whole drift of this article. I think two of the most overlooked, deliberately ignored passages in the whole Bible are in Matthew 20 and Matthew 23. 

    In Matthew 20:25-28 King Jesus says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

    Then a few verses later in Matthew 23:8-13 Jesus also said, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi'; for One is your teacher, the Christ, and YOU ARE ALL BRETHREN.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering in to go in.”

    I think the two most dangerous people in a church are those who are passively complient, not thinking for themselves, but just believing and following what a leader and/or his team is preaching, doing little in the Kingdom themselves, but just letting the Pastor or priest do it all as a paid god-man.  That’s dangerous because it is dead and unproductive while it appears to be fine.

    The second most dangerous person in a church are pastors who encourage that kind of “order”.  There is no place in the entire New Testament that justifies a single person ruler over any church. All of the epistles were addressed either to TEAMS OF ELDERS, or just as common to THE WHOLE CONGREGATION.  The only verse that presents the ministry of a pastor has that set in the context of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher team!  The single leader model is the Moses model, and the facts are that that was Old Testament, before the Holy Spirit, and “Moses my servant is dead.”  That model might be useful when newer churches are just forming, but it must quickly, as in a few months at most, transition over to a team of elders, who are many of them also pastors.  As an example, the great Apostle Paul didn’t stay very long in any one location so as not to become such a ruler, fostering codependency to the elevated leader.  I’ve seen a lot of pastors who are out of order, acting like little gods, taking the authority away from the rest of the men in the church, in effect emotionally and theologically stealing wifes and children away from husbands and fathers.  Bad business, but it’s so common in American churches that a lot of people think it is biblical. Shame on them.

    • Hephzy

      You took advantage of the article to vent out your long and hard formed negative opinion against pastors. Your response sound so much like you could be one of such unteachable guys who claim to know it all. The writer clearly states and i quote “(Please note this is not a repudiation of constructive criticism. This
      is desperately needed. There is a difference between constructive and
      destructive criticism, however.)”. Such is the character of the dangerous guys in churches, because they have what they wanted to say, they won’t settle down to hear the pastor well and out before trowing it all back at him and thus become clogs in the church’s wheel. There are bad leaders and there are bad followers too. The focus of this article is on the bad follower. It assumes the leader in this case is not the bad one. Sometimes our disposition as followers determines what kind of leadership we will get from our leaders. See your church pastor as just a “paid god man” and you get just that from him. See him as God’s servant and treat him the way you will treat the servant of your state governor sent to you and you will get the best of him. Jesus though came as a servant was the clear leader of the group. The New Testament church gave the Apostles the respect they deserved. The appointed elders you cited were not the dish washers nor floor mopers to be servants.  “pastor” is a gift and calling (Ephesians 4:11) before becoming an office but some who sees it like a paid job and have misinterpreted the New Testament church setting as not having any leaders like you look down on it  and arrogantly take up pastoral offices. Mess up, they surely will, giving room for pastor’s nrgative critics like yourself to say anything. Truly called pastors should be supported and encouraged, they should not be frustrated and distracted by “dangerous church members”.

      • unwavering faith

        You sound like a pastor whose doing what is right! If not Judge not

      • MyoungSr

        A lot of tension building here?  And, yes, this article is about the UNTEACHABLE and not about an unteachable or errant pastor.  However, regarding your reply to Teacherable:

        1.  I see you disagree with Teacherable’s position and presentation.  Although disagreement and debate can be constructive and helpful

        2.  When one starts pointing fingers and saying “YOU seem to be; YOU are; YOU…”, it becomes personal. 

        3.  So, do I assume by your remarks you ALSO meant (to quote you)  “to vent out your long and hard formed negative opinion against _(parishoners?)__. Your response sound so much like you could be one of such unteachable guys who claim to know it all. The writer clearly states and i quote “(Please note this is not a repudiation of constructive criticism. This is desperately needed. There is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism, however.)”.

        I don’t know if you realize it or not, but, it seems to me that the tone of your remarks reflect the very thing you accuse TEACHERABLE of…

        I have been on ‘both sides’, also.  And my greatest disappointments and ensuing difficulties have not been when an “unteachable” demonstrates his or her angst, but, when a PASTOR says “I can’t deal with this situation because

        a.  I am just a few years from retirement”
        b.  I am the pastor sent by God
        c.  I am the CEO here
        d.  I don’t need this aggrevation
        e.  etc

        I.e., WHEN the LEADER who has acted as a PASTOR (a gift and a calling, as you note) has slipped away from his responsibilities to the office, role and calling of pastor on order to tend his wounds, gather himself emotionally, defend his role, etc etc etc, then the victory is in danger of being lost.

        The role of pastor is clearly defined – and it is a humanly impossible job.  Only God can get it done!

        The role of teaching and discipling ‘sheep’ is predictably slow, difficult, and frustrating.  But, that is the mission:

        Go.  Make Disciples.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      • gmanon

        You said: “Sometimes our disposition as followers determines what kind of leadership we will get from our leaders.”

        Supposedly, the leader is the grown up Christian, the one taking the heavier load as an example to the members.

        Church leadership without sacrifice and without love does not work. Why to complain about the members. If they were perfect, they would not need no pastor, neither leaders.

        If we Christian do not judge ourselves and try to change, the world will, and without mercy. And eventually even God himself will judge us.

    • Timbo

      Sorry teacherable I think you missed the point of the article. But it does sound like you need to either find another church to attend to get some help with your bitterness…or..I know this seems novel…but maybe you should attempt to gain reconciliation with the leaders that have hurt you so much in the past.

  • Teacherable

    Titus I think it is, maybe somewhere else, does teach that divisive people are to be rebuked and if necessary asked to leave.  And there are such people.  However, I have met a lot of people who no longer go to church because they once did attend but when they had honest questions they were shunned and shamed instead of listened to and helped.  The notion that Pastor and/or pastoral staff are the know-all, answer-alls requires that all other members remain immature and docile which is the opposite of true discipleship.  Discipleship is not sitting passively in pews.  I like the model of the Jewish Midrash where men and women too meet once a week to study and to debate the Word of God in more of an open forum.  No wonder som many of them become doctors and lawyers and academic and business and political leaders.  Their system teaches them to think and discuss. 

    Years ago I picked up a copy of John Bradshaw’s book on family abuse called BRADSHAW ON THE FAMILY.  As I read it I began to emote!  What was all that about?  For the most part my parents had never abused me, then why were my emotions reacting?  Then when I got to the list of “The Poisonous Pedagogy” and read through it, it dawned on me that it wasn’t so much my parents who had done those things to me, but pastors!  Things like “we have all the answers and you shut up” kind of actions are shaming to the people with the questions. 

    Often, these people with the questions are the bright ones, and we would be wise to treat them with the same honor and dignity we should give to anyone.  Judge not lest you be judged means rejection, summary dismissal, expulsion. That knife cuts both ways.   

  • Asking The Hard Questions

    Having been on both sides of the pulpit, I can agree that the know-it-all guy and unteachable one can be on both sides and when there is one on each side at the same time it is the unmovable object meeting the irresistible force.  It is a lose-lose situation.  

    The problem is normally that a person is unteachable if he doesn’t agree with you.  Is that not the problem with the Church period?  The Holy Spirit was sent to do many things but one of those is to lead us into ALL truth and yet the Church is greatly divided on practically everything.  If we were all being teachable then there would be no divisions and we would all say the same thing about every doctrine and yet we don’t.  So who are the unteachable ones?  Everyone would point the finger at the other guy. 

    Indeed, we have more church buildings and less impact than ever in the world.  If you look at Scripture there was only ONE church per city not 100 different ones.  Moving to nondenominationalism was supposed to tear down the walls that divide us and yet we are more divided than ever in 2K years.  Indeed, it has been more destructive to the Church than atheists, cults and evolution.  Instead of maybe 30 major denominations in 1900 we have thousands of one church denominations each with their own little twist on one or two doctrines that divide.  So who are the unteachable ones?  To denominate is to name so if you have a name on your church building you are a denomination of one and if you associate and work with others then you are not truly nondenominational.  You just aren’t part of the older established ones.  With the diverse doctrines interdenominational is tricky and really untenable.

    All that denominations were about was that they agreed on a body of doctrine they considered to be sound and UNITED to work together and to win the world and teach that common doctrine.  Dang, that was a horrible thing I guess since most people now go to church for the music, the small groups, the ambiance or the motivational talks and have no clue as to what the doctrine of the church is except for a doctrinal statement that most have never read. 

    Some would never go to a Baptist or Presbyterian Church but what they do not realize is that it is highly probable that unless it is a “new revelation” church that the church they are attending may actually be a Baptist or Presbyterian (or some other group) undercover to appease the culture.  All the major doctrines have been pretty well hashed out and call the building what you like, but you will still be based upon some extant body of doctrine.  Personally, I find that deceptive and cowardly. If you are something then say it and not be ashamed or kissing the feet of the culture. 

    I would have to say that few of us are really teachable.  True, there must needs be divisions among us that the approved may stand out, but who are the approved? Those who automatically thought, “I am”, are you really?  For the record, I have challenged my own beliefs many times over the years and have been in numerous debates/dialogues/arguments.  What it is called depends upon whom I am speaking to about any particular subject.  I have been called extreme right, compromising, and even a Liberal on some subjects.  Since Jesus and the Apostles ticked off everyone at one time or another I may be at least close to the right path.  ;-)

    I agree the most dangerous people are those in the Church.  When we are not teachable to seek agreement on doctrines or truth how can we reach a world who doesn’t believe in absolute truths?  We teach that there are absolutes, but we cannot agree on what they are and that is confusing to me let alone the unbelieving.  Having six Christians with thirteen opinions on everything plus calling some things essential and others nonessential seems a tad off the path.  Indeed, if God speaks to an issue can we really call it nonessential?  Is that being teachable by the Holy Spirit or just a way to ignore issues that might cause problems with our theology or confrontation with others?  Is salvation all that the Bible is about? If so, 66 books and speaking
    to any other issues not related it seems like a waste of God’s time and
    resources.

    Again, my initial premise is that if we were truly teachable there would be but one denomination and even one church per town speaking the same thing and showing a pure united front to a lost world that needs to see such a thing among people who claim to be the children and ambassadors of God.  As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and they is us.”  This is what I have learned over nearly forty years of being a Christian with many mentors and having in served in a few congregations in several states as well as conversing with many from other countries and other polities be they denominational or not. 

    Shalom

    • Mcsmith1942

       right on!

  • Virak_Mac

    I’m learning to spot these types of people. It’s always a bad sign when someone starts attending your church, and they feel compelled to recite their ministry/spirituality resumé from day one. 

    • Asking The Hard Questions

      Actually, John, unless you are going to a mega-church that has plenty of staff and volunteers there is nothing wrong with letting a pastor know your background so he might determine where he can plug you in to meet the needs of that local Body.  The presentation of the resume is might alert you to a problem, not the resume itself.

      • Virak_Mac

        From day one? Prolly not.

        • Asking The Hard Questions

          Actually, yes.  When I meet with a new pastor I tell him that I did not come to just warm a pew but that I came to work and I tell him where I have been and what I have done and ask if he can use me somewhere. If he were to say no then I would look for a place that has a need for my gifts.   That is the way it should be with every believer since we all have at least one spiritual gift that was meant to fulfill a need in the Body.  If that need is not there then you need to find a place where it is needed.

  • Therichardsgang

    I have found that I can recognise this person quite quickly – they usually ask very soon after meeting you “what do you/the church believe about ….?” – they actually don’t want to know what you believe – they want to tell you what they believe!

  • Prayerman57

    I recently left a church where the pastor was teaching, and I quote, “you are gods, when you accepted Jesus Christ you became deific.”  He did not mean plural, possessive he meant gods and if put to the test probably with a “G” not a “g”
     
    Another favorite teaching was related to the Gospel of Q, a hypothetical set of manuscripts thought to exist at the time the gospels were written from which the gospel authors supposedly got the basis for the books of Matthew and Mark.  While preaching on this subject one day he told us that (and these are words, direct quotes attributed to Jesus Christ out of the book of Mark, red letter type)  “we can safely assume Jesus never spoke these words.”

    He consistently questioned the authority of the scriptures going all the way back to Genesis and saying, “it doesn’t matter if God created the word in 6 days or 6 thousand years, it just doesn’t matter.”

    The same pastor embraces the teaching of Rob Bell, his book “Love Wins” and his messages echo of it.

    These are only a few of the things I heard while associated with that church.

    Now, my point being when I spoke out against this heretical teaching I was the one said to be “the most dangerous person in the church.”  I totally understand the point Erik was trying to make, however, we need to make sure we are not afraid to point out heresy when it is being preached.  Don’t sit on your hands and keep your mouth closed when the pastor is preaching something that doesn’t line up with the bible.  In a loving, teachable way ask the pastor to explain what he is preaching, why he is preaching it and through the scriptures validate it.

    Thank you,
    Greg

  • Ryan

    Honestly, I’m quite dangerous. We’ve all heard the term, “You know just enough to be dangerous.” You know how it is. You think you know some truth and tell others what you believe on that certain topic. You unknowingly spew out heracy depending on what someone else believes, insisting your right, they’re wrong.

    It’s a good thing that in the end we’ll be judged by our works and not how much truth we get right. I don’t think anyone really knows it all or ever gets it all right. Spending too much time hanging around the ‘TREE OF bible KNOWLEGE’ really isn’t all that productive. As GOOD as studying may be, in disussions, it can have EVIL results… bruised/broken relationships, a divided church, turn-off of people from church and the gospel. This is our Greek stumbling block of seeking wisdom, the insistence of knowing it all… or thinking we do.

    Jesus Christ is the TREE OF LIFE, the tree we need to be hanging around. Eat of that tree and bare the fruit of the Spirit… even among the heratics and wolves, we can do this.

  • don’t have all the answers

    I think the most dangerous person in the church is the one who has lost his/her first love.  There is no God to guide them beyond themselves.

  • Dave

    Good article – such people all everywhere.  Some of them are taken off because of their number of years in the Church.  Let us also not forget the fact that some of these people might have had real encounter with the lord before pride sets in.  Therefore, for some of us that God is using to bless his people in diverse ways, glory must still go to God.
    I would conclude by assuming that these set of people may not be as dangerous as HYPOCRITES.

  • DaveEkstrom

    Article was excellent in this sense.  In actual damage done to churches, in my experience, I have found the unteachable person is the most dangerous.  Funny how a church can languish under their watch but they still think they should be running things.  In my ministry, I have had to deal with all the things people deal with: immorality, false doctrine, abuse, divorce, youth, etc.  These are very serious at the individual level.  But none of them threatened the church as a whole.  But I’ve had to go toe to toe with some good people who, if I let them have their way, would have killed the whole church.  Not overnight, mind you, but putting a hole in the bottom of the boat will as surely sink her as blowing her to bits–just more slowly.

  • Dwayne Thomas

    I disagree,it’s the guy with the bomb strapped to his chest….just sayin

  • Byron

    I think the he most dangerous person in the church is the Pastor.

    • wala lang!

      Why do you say that Pastor is the most dangerous person in the church?

    • mindofchrist

      hmmmmmmm it’s funny that in scripture the main way Pastors or and leaders are seen as gifts from Christ himself

  • Victory

    i agree with everything in this article. i know of someone who was the most dangerous in the church and this article definitely defines the characteristics of the person. this is so true

    • alhatesreligion

      He or she can be, the scripture speaks a lot about those who were teaching another gospel-but for the most part Pastors are well intended in what they do-I am leery of the TBN folks-well not all of them.

  • Maximise5

    Why does it have to be “a guy” ! You should have put “person” not guy (male).
    This gives the misconception that it is ALWAYS a guy !!

  • Oscar

    A person may seem to be unteachable as a result of the teaching method adopted, not actually his/her fault but the fault of the teacher.

  • gmanon

    The Hippocrates are the most dangerous people in church.
    Being smart and bringing up a point is not a sin, but to try to show up and disrespect the authorities is. The bible says very clear that by the fruits you shall know them.

    Leadership based on the word of God is what the church needs instead of zombies who blindly listen to the pastor and ministers and do not even touch the scriptures.

    As a pastor, you need to discipline with love based on the word and make real disciples of Jesus Christ. Prayers and practice of the word with a heart is what brings change on people. The good Shepperd do not kill the sheep, but put his life for them and so his time.

    This is a problem in many churches because many teachers and leaders want to take it easy and exercise authority over people without earning that honor.

    So many do not have the time to study the scriptures, but to call themselves reverends. When those individuals interrupt the peace of the church, it’s only because they are not learning to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

  • ephremhagos

    “Unteachability” is the mark of self-serving leaders and gullible followers of religions. In Christianity, these are characterized by lip services and creeds lacking any personal knowledge of the Scriptures or God’s power.
    (Matt. 19: 1-12; 22: 29-32)

  • theWatchman

    Brother Erik…great article…<

  • Jaja

    I have counted so many pastors and other such shepherds who lack skill in the word of righteousness, that I am suspect of any such article from one who calls himself a Minister. Being formally trained myself, and relatively highly degreed, as well as formally and spiritually ordained to teach, I have noticed and experience far too many ministers who are not skillful in the word of righteousness. Couple this with the fact that most Christians simply will not study for themselves, and what we end up with is a serious case of the blind leading the blind. The tone that you have about the most dangerous person in your church sounds more like you don’t want people to study for themselves and to be given the Holy Ghost knowledge as opposed to depending solely are greatly on the pulpit.

    I would have to say that the most dangerous person in a church, is one who studies the word for themselves, and consequently does not rubber stamp everything said by the pastor.

    • Brivolbn7q!

      I didn’t get that at all. But maybe that’s because I’m not highly suspect of God’s children. If they say something Biblically inaccurate, that’s a different story. He pointed out five things that are dangerous for believers:

      Thinking you have it all figured out
      Being destructively critical (looking for problems for the sake of problems)
      Being divisive
      Being a joy-robber
      Wasting time by engaging in foolish arguments

      These are all Biblical concepts. I can think of Scripture to back up every one of them. On the other hand, you base your lack of trust on your experience and extensive training. I have to admit that worries me a bit. As a pastor – there, I said it … though it’s in my name – I love it when believers engage in the Word of God.

      I love the Lord, I take my role seriously, and I thank God for allowing me to serve in the capacity He has called me. But at the same time, I am totally and utterly inadequate for the ministry – apart from Christ. Any adequacy I have is in Him. I am quick tempered, I am arrogant, I am unorganized, I am selfish, and that’s only the beginning of my list of weaknesses – but as God works through me, He gets all the glory and everyone knows it. Therefore, I will boast in my weaknesses.

      What are your weaknesses that God works through?

      • Pastor D

        Thanks Pastor Brian,
        I have a gentleman in my church who just loves to engage me in challenges about different doctrines or teachings of the church. Sometimes he oversimplifies his case and sometimes he even challenges the thinking of the scholars dating back to the third century (he knows better). However I love this man because he is a thinker – I cannot change his mind on certain matters, but that doesn’t stop us from having a good relationship in the Lord together. I consider him an asset to our church. I guess it all depends on how you view the glass: half-empty or half-full :-)

    • William

      That’s what I got from this article as well.

  • Ryan

    Everyone who enters a church has the potential to be dangerous in some way to some extent. Obveously a pastor could be potentially the most dangerous because of thier influential position. Even me. I went from a baptist church to a reformed church and my differing views on infant baptism made me dangerous to that church. Being one who would actively read and study my own bible, I doubt I’d agree with any church on everything. It gets to the point where either I bit my lip and just let things go in one ear and out the other or if I’m so bothered by the church’s stance… leave. Before I had gotten into reading and studying the bible, what ever the pastor preached must be right… It sounded good and what did I know?

  • michael

    I think we have to be careful. Sometimes the “dangerous” one is simply one we don’t understand or one who makes us uncomfortable. The body is made of many parts. Someone has to be the colon. None of us likes talking about it and even fewer want to interact with it, but If it quits doing it’s job we all suffer. I have predispositions that “color” my impression of people sometimes… the trick is learning to trust God, stay intimately close to His Word and remember that love covers a whole lot! Grace… michael

  • debra roland

    In other words, the pastor.

  • JudeThree

    what to do when the leader is this person, run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/malcolm.kirk.39 Malcolm Kirk

    Hmmm. This article is on in some
    places, and a bit off in others.

    Postively, there can be people in the
    church who are not living the Christian life. They are rebellious to God, and
    thus also to the pastor. They seek to draw people to themselves, because it is
    a way of assuaging their sense of being outliers, or to falsely justify
    themselves in their own eyes. Bad, bad, bad.

    Negatively, the set up for this article appears
    to have a knowledgeable guy whose life is together, but fully believes his own
    point of view on an issue or issues, in disagreement with the pastor. Now, most
    seminary graduates are going to read themselves into the pastoral side of this
    article, and assume with this pastor that they are necessarily right and the
    member of the congregation wrong. That cannot be assumed. In fact, the reader
    might actually disagree with the author on several significant theological
    points not revealed in this article.

    There are pastors who mishandle scripture
    (some occasionally, others regularly), some who mishandle elements in theology
    (most are only well read in their own church’s positions), some who talk about
    history they are not well read in, others whose ability to construct an
    argument stinks. And of course, there are some who simply do a poor job
    constructing and delivering a sermon. [If they get criticism for messing up in
    these areas, their own ignorance may lead them to think the person objecting to
    their mistakes is trouble / divisive. They feel set upon, and get defensive.]
    If this goes on regularly, the person criticizing might have to find a new
    church. But the pastor is also responsible to try to improve, and may need to
    ask for pointers, study more, and practice more!

    So, here’s a major problem. Not one of the
    verses referenced has anything to do with the situation to which the author
    seems to be referring.

    CASES IN POINT: “2. He Is
    Critical” Simply because a person is critical does not mean they are given
    to “filthiness and rampant wickedness”; and it does not mean they are not receiving
    the word of God implanted. [These are
    the issues of James 1:20-21. Not the one the author raises.] It can just be
    that he is not convinced of your position, and is just as determined to
    convince you of his position, as you are to convince him.

    In point #3, the author uses Titus 3:10.
    But this factiousness is a person apparently given to possible issues of status
    by birth and legalism (see v. 9), and in rebellion against Apostolic teaching. Such
    a person is in line for church discipline, which John sounds ready to give. Again, based on
    the beginning of the article, this does not sound like the author’s situation.

    In point #4, what do Heb. 13:7 and 10 have
    to do with a pastor’s joy? Gal. 6:6-10 would have been a better fit, maybe with
    a side reference to Phil. 4:1.

    In point #5, “He just keeps resetting the same issue
    over and over again. He can find anything to nitpick and be critical about.” Together,
    these sentences tell us that it is actually a diverse series of problems which
    can be grouped under a broader category. It sounds like the issue really has
    not been resolved with or by the pastor. The phrase “to nitpick and be critical”
    sounds like these are problems of interpretation. And I will finish this
    response with a brief statement on that.

    POSITIVELY: Much of the author’s
    recommended approach for dealing with the situation is good!

    NEGATIVELY: He has not established that
    the individual is actually in sin, in which case Mt. 18:15-18 would not apply.
    I suppose you could apply Heb. 13:16 in some way. But hopefully not just as a
    protection for the pastor’s own mistakes.

    FINALLY: I have noted that this article pays
    little attention to the context of the scriptures to which it refers. Perhaps
    this is the issue the author is confronting with the “unteachable” fellow. If
    that is the case, the problem is really the pastor’s. The fellow might need a
    gentler spirit, for which he could stand correction. But that would not be the
    central problem.

    An Elder is supposed to be able to teach.
    From that, we should take it that Paul means they are able to teach WELL,
    rightly dividing the word of truth. Today, appointment to pastoral positions in
    some churches completely ignores the issue of whether the person chosen can
    handle the scriptures well. It often looks to godliness alone, or other
    abilities needed by the church, but not specified as fundamental requirements
    in scripture. Evangelical churches are full of them!

    Taking for granted that a
    pastor who does not handle scripture well will not step down (as he probably ought
    until he improves), it is his high calling to better educate himself in
    hermeneutics. This can be done through
    reading very good books on the subject, and perhaps classes (if one can find a
    really great professor for it). He should read in really good, thick, recent (!),
    scholarly (!) commentaries. He should
    read scripture CAREFULLY, exegeting the text, and not eisegeting the text. And
    until he gets much better, he should be a bit more open to criticism of his
    handling of texts.

    If he’s a great exegete, well, then, maybe
    the critical fellow needs to find a different place to fellowship.
    May the Lord bless all of us in our efforts to be better teachers.

    • Lewis

      Thank you for pointing out some very fundamental facts. I was branded as ‘unteachable’ by a previous leader when in fact, it was quite the opposite. Everyonewho opposes a pharisee leader is not unteachable.

  • leejoy escamillan

    thanks a lot for this message and for the advice on how to handle that person we recently had experience in fact he is a good friend of us, a treasurer of our church, faithful and tither, but all of the sudden he ruined the testimony of our church and dis respect my husband his pastor without any provocation his reason because we did not agree to his opinion;
    now we can handle the problem properly . God bless! please pray for our church “hosanna Presbyterian Church Tagbac Jaro , Iloilo Philippines”.

  • $23313105

    Read all the comments to a simple but accurate article about the problems caused by an “unteachable” member, or as I hear it, “one who is not open to the possibility they could be wrong and thus refuses to hear any admonition that suggests they could be”. Many people commenting seem to find that offensive, or, that is, unteachable on the subject addressed by the article.

  • Lynn Patton

    What about the “she” who might just be the most dangerous person in the congregation?

    • Pastor D

      I agree, there is often a ‘she’ who is the most dangerous person. I say that only because in mainline churches (of which many are in decline) women far outnumber the men. I think Erik should have used ‘he/she’ to avoid singling out men as the main perpetrators. Thanks for pointing that out :-)

    • ErinErin

      I am with you, Lynn. They can be of any stripe. We forget that WOUNDED people come to churches and mostly they need community and LOVE.

  • lovingthegospel

    And an arminian can spot a calvinist too.

    • Always Wondering

      Indeed we can :)

    • Joe Bloggs

      Amen. Calvinism is ridiculous in itself…. then again, Calvin’s five principles were written when he was a “master theologian” in his 20’s – an age where he no doubt knew everything.

      • Daniel Gilbert

        Joe, Just a clarification regarding Calvinism, Calvin did not write the 5 points of Calvinism in his 20s or ever. They were written in the early 1600s by followers of Calvin to counter the points written out by followers of Arminius. Blessings.

      • Follow the Lords leading

        God can inspire even a little boy who died and saw heaven….. to write a book and lead thousands to Christ.

    • Amanda

      Ok in the end does it really matter??? The whole Calvinist vs. Armenian is so old now…

    • Mar Komus

      Only if they choose to, whereas Calvinists simply have no choice in the matter; they must spot Arminians

  • Chris Harris

    Pastors, leaders and or members seem to be “wasting” so much time and energy fighting and battling erroneous & stupid “internal” problems that when it comes to fighting and battling the right enemy – “Satan” outside of God’s church, we have already become divided and weak. We then blame someone other than ourselves for the division of the church, the lack of growth, discipleship and souls being impacted with the Gospel of Jesus. Let’s stop pointing the finger & battling each other. Remember: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). Let’s start focusing on the “real issue” – SATAN, and start praying against his attacks upon our people! I’m tired of him winning in this area…aren’t you?

    • amos8

      Chris, I believe the Bible tells us that the bigger problems are actually “internal,” not “out there.” Any enemy knows the most damage they can do is on the inside. We have a tremendous responsibility, therefore, to confront and expose the false teachings and false teachers “among us.” Yet few dare to do so. Just a sampling of verses of this …

      “This matter arose because some false believers had INFILTRATED OUR RANKS to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”

      “But there were also false prophets AMONG THE PEOPLE, just as there will be false teachers AMONG YOU. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies…”

      “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves WILL COME IN AMONG YOU and will not spare the flock. EVEN FROM YOUR OWN NUMBER men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!”

      • Chris Harris

        I’m totally aware of “internal” problems within a church, as long there we are sinful people in this world, God’s house will always have them, heck – no church is perfect either. But let’s place humanity aside for one minute.

        But what I’m endeavoring to highlight is that the main person responsible, the direct source, the root of the problem is – Satan.

        If we can agree on that one fact, our prayers need to be directed against his attacks, rather that blaming or trying to change people.

        I have lived this out as a pastor. I don’t know why some people do what they do or say what they say to bring division. Neither do I understand why they make molehills into mountains or enable gossip to fester among God’s people.

        All I can come up with is that they have allowed Satan to use their pain, their disagreement with a pastor or situation, their anger against someone or something or maybe they are being stretched beyond their comfort zone and just don’t like it and they are rebel;ing against the church. (and there are of course many other emotions or feelings) Either way, if they are responding this way, the root cause is that the enemy has his talons in them and is directing their bitterness towards God.

        What I have realized, is that there is only one person who can change them. God. Only He can change their hearts. I give it to the Lord, and ask him to sort it all out – for if I try to do it on my own, I will fail every time.

        Root cause – Satan. Solution – PRAYER that the power of the Holy Spirit penetrates the barrier and or wall that the enemy has built to separate this individual from union with God’s people.

        1 Peter 3 speaks of loving everyone, not to retaliate when someone does evil but rather “pay the person back with blessing”.

        Please understand, I don’t condone nor do I accept trouble within a church. We have enough problems fighting the enemy in winning souls to the Lord, on his turf (so to speak), than having to battle internal issues.

        But I learnt to look past the individual and see the enemy whom has control of them. Uphold that person in prayer and seek the Lord for restoration and deliverance from the situation.

        • Ryan

          Often when you see people getting all bent out of shape its because they care too much about the wrong things. Although they may have the best of intention with morality, living Christ-like and keeping commandments and wanting to teach others the benefit of these things, they get so caught up in it and pushing it on others, they drive themselves to become legalistic and believe everyone else should be like them and have their zeal. Then if others are not bending backwards in being doers of the word, they become judgmental of them. Although there is nothing wrong with pleasing God out of return love as an individual, teaching or pushing to follow rules as the way to please God, that may seem to sound good and right is actually heretical to enslave people to commandments. Doing the right things for the wrong reason. This is legalistic and where those god awful repetitive religious practices stem from. This was just an example where the truth is twisted just enough to where it can make a mess of things because people in their intellect will see it as believable. I probably won’t put as much blame on Satan as you in most things as people tend to be destructive enough themselves without the help of Satan. We are all susceptible to evil heart issues often and need to keep watch on ourselves and pray for deliverance of these.

          • Chris Harris

            God gave all humanity the right of “free choice”, and yes I totally agree, we all need to be responsible for our own actions and can not be so cavalier in letting people know “satan made me do it”. What I’m endeavoring to direct attention to is that Satan is ultimately to blame for “ALL” of the sin in this world. I’m only stating a fact that is our fight is not against “flesh and blood” (Eph 6) then our fight must be agains the Spiritual whelm – Satan and his demons (Angels). Therefore more prayer is needed and required in this area, than focusing on pointing fingers, excommunicating and or shunning individuals who are making back choices and decisions and who make be under the influence of Satan. I believe focusing more on the “root course” will be more powerful than anything else.

        • balasamson

          Pastor, Your thoughts are enriched with experience. Yes, the root cause is Satan and we got to shield our church with prayers.

        • amos8

          Yes, we agree that MUCH prayer is needed and that Satan is a huge problem, but so are our hearts (i.e. sinful nature … easily deceived, bent toward sin, darkness, false teachings, harming and deceiving others, etc), and so are false teachers.

          Furthermore, we have Many clear directives in Scripture given to us as HUGE, on going responsibilities for us to deal directly with PEOPLE:

          To overtly and openly warn people about falsehoods/false teachers (Jas 5:19-20)

          To successfully “refute those who oppose” sound, biblical teaching (Ti 1:9) … and even “rebuke them sharply” (Ti 1:13)

          To “snatch” and “save” others from the fire (Jude 23)

          To expose falsehoods/false teachers (Eph 5:6-11)

          To NOT let false teachers (e.g. unbiblical books) into our homes (or churches) (2 Jn 7-11) (which often requires much discernment and addressing/offending a lot of people)

          To NOT “easily put up with” false teachers/false teachings and “another Jesus” or “another gospel,” etc (2 Cor 11:3-4)

          To “contend” for the faith (Jude 3)

          To “defend” the gospel/God’s Word (Phil 1:7, 27-28)

          To guard against “wolves” “among us” (Acts 20; Matt 7)

          To “constant(ly”) “Discern” truth from error (Heb 5:14)

          To not let ourselves, and those around us, “be deceived” (Eph 5:6-7; Matt 24, etc)

          To accurately know the truth, and be unified over the truth, so that we (the church) “will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves…” by false teachers and their “deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:11-15)

          I appreciate your concerns (and “target”) but we must also deal with real live people who are intentionally and unintentionally trying to deceive and, in their own way, “rob, kill and destroy” … mainly through deception.

          The church has effectively killed off discernment–passively and assertively–mainly through discouraging them to discern. So now we have a church of undiscerning sheep (that are literally getting slaughtered on a daily basis), and we are getting “tossed back and forth” by wave after wave of false teachings. This website alone is filled with articles from false teachers, not to mention the notions brought in by those who are commenting.

          Unity is great, it is a most worthy goal, but it also REQUIRES separation, separation from what is false, evil, errant, sinful, etc (i.e. sanctification). [see 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph 5:11ff] To be truly be unified we must be unified over the truth, but the reality is that the vast majority does not follow the truth (Matt 7:13-14) or want to (Jn 3:19-21; 2 Tim 4:3-4) and the church has/will always be infiltrated with false teachers that are responsible for division (Rom 16:17-18).

          Chris, the reality, then, is that we have a lot of unpleasant but necessary work as Believers and “leaders” (e..g. “defending,” “contending,” “demolishing every argument that sets itself up against” God, God’s Word, truth, etc). Jesus constantly dealt directly with people (rebuking, confronting, etc) and so did the Apostles (Paul, Peter, etc).

          • Chris Harris

            Jesus love them…yes…he rebuked them at times…yes (2 Tim 3:16 tells us and shows us the authority of scripture)…but He didn’t focus his attention on those people…he focused His attention on reaching the lost. He allowed the Holy Spirit to do the work in changing peoples hearts. SOLUTION: pray for those that persecute us and focus on seeking and saving the lost. We always have to keep in mind, that it’s not a “legal” battle (religious battle) but that it will always be a “Spiritual” battle.

          • amos8

            Thanks for writing back. You left out a LARGE part of what I wrote and referred to in Scripture. The reality is that there are a lot of conversations, “arguments,” “exhortations,” “corrections,” “rebuking,” “warnings,” that Jesus and His followers did, and we must do (i.e. us today), especially in a world of darkness.

            Furthermore, the unity that you seek, which is great, is not realistic without dealing directly with those that seek to divide the church–from each other, from God, and from the truth.

            We cannot just ignore the numerous directives from God to address people in this arena.

    • Warren Lamb

      So, Chris Harris, what are we to do about the goats?

      • Chris Harris

        I’m totally aware of “internal” problems within a church, as long there we are sinful people in this world, God’s house will always have them, heck – no church is perfect either. But let’s place humanity aside for one minute.

        But what I’m endeavoring to highlight is that the main person responsible, the direct source, the root of the problem is – Satan.

        If we can agree on that one fact, our prayers need to be directed against his attacks, rather that blaming or trying to change people.

        I have lived this out as a pastor. I don’t know why some people do what they do or say what they say to bring division. Neither do I understand why they make molehills into mountains or enable gossip to fester among God’s people.

        All I can come up with is that they have allowed Satan to use their pain, their disagreement with a pastor or situation, their anger against someone or something or maybe they are being stretched beyond their comfort zone and just don’t like it and they are rebel;ing against the church. (and there are of course many other emotions or feelings) Either way, if they are responding this way, the root cause is that the enemy has his talons in them and is directing their bitterness towards God.

        What I have realized, is that there is only one person who can change them. God. Only He can change their hearts. I give it to the Lord, and ask him to sort it all out – for if I try to do it on my own, I will fail every time.

        Root cause – Satan. Solution – PRAYER that the power of the Holy Spirit penetrates the barrier and or wall that the enemy has built to separate this individual from union with God’s people.

        1 Peter 3 speaks of loving everyone, not to retaliate when someone does evil but rather “pay the person back with blessing”.

        Please understand, I don’t condone nor do I accept trouble within a church. We have enough problems fighting the enemy in winning souls to the Lord, on his turf (so to speak), than having to battle internal issues.

        But I learnt to look past the individual and see the enemy whom has control of them. Uphold that person in prayer and seek the Lord for restoration and deliverance from the situation.

    • Teretha Thornton

      Bravo Chris Harris. We need more pastors like you to stand up and let the demons know that their reign is over.Bible teaching and not entertainment is what we have to get serious about and NOW. In Jesus Name

    • JG

      Truth!!!!!!

    • Jeff Cary

      While I wholeheartedly agree that evil abounds and that Satan is very active, we as the Body of Christ tend to give the devil too much credit. Anything that may not go according to our predetermined plans, or the intolerable acts of inhumanity against each other, we tend to credit it to the power of Satan. If we step back and look at the big picture, we may see the cause of some (not all) of our misfortunes is because of our disjointed, disconnected lives, and the bad decisions that we sometimes make. Remember, God made us as creatures with free will, and it’s time that we take ownership for that. Don’t give Satan more power than he deserves.

  • joyregained

    Very informative and helpful…thanks to the writer

  • Joe Bloggs

    Amazing how being critical is never the correct thing. Pastors and their ministry teams have sadly become lazy and lethargic in most churches in the West, and they should stop complaining when people want to take up all the time they need to be corrected on certain things, or correct a member of the ministry team who echoes these ‘5 points’, which happens A LOT in the church worldwide. Self righteous clap-trap!

  • Grady Walton

    I always thought the most dangerous person in church was the flag lady. (Sorry, I just thought this tense discussion needed a little levity.)

    • Jim R.

      ?? The what?

      • Warren Lamb

        The lady who makes the pennants displayed in the sanctuary (I think…)

  • Dr. Bill

    As a retired Pastor, with addictions & anger management licensure, I walked into a Church wanting to get involved in a specialized ministry as a layman only. It turned into a disaster. The pastor saw me as a threat to his leadership, spread unflattering comments to the council leadership, and eventually left for another call after years of service. Some of us survive for the long haul because we can gather about us trusted friends whom we think can protect us through thick & thin. When that happens we become “unteachable”. It was a crushing blow to me, but I tried to practice Psalm 46: “Be still & know that I am God”. I also realized that following Christ often leads me where my gifts can best be used. For all the damage that was done to my soul & spirit, I’m not sure I can go back to that Church, nor am I sure that it is safe. During interim periods grief takes on many faces, many emotions, many wounds. It can take years for a congregation/parish to recover. For now, I seek the face of Christ and His healing.

    • Teretha Thornton

      Dr. Bill I think we have all had to go through something like this at least once. sometimes people just forget that they were not always saved and/or how to love themselves as well as you. going through it helps you find out what you are made of. God already knows but you need to know it too.

  • Ben

    Hello, it is very interesting to read all the post on this subject, all of you are right why because the most dangers person is the ignorant person the unstudied man and women who allow themselves to treaded as ignorant people dumb sheep. I am very sure you who have expressed your knowledge of the word of God, have been called unteach able, a know it all, asking to many questions and up setting the congregation. so welcome to my world.I have been called a loner do it all by your self your not of God you do not hear God voice and many other words, as long as I know who I am in Christ Jesus who cares I refused to be judged because I have been judged. All of my sins have been washed away by the Blood, some people can’t handle the confidence I have in my God. Ben a son of God through Jesus.

  • Deb

    This is a touchy subject. I consider how these un-teachable persons throw false accusations at others that are teachable, making them appear to be the problem. What do you think?

  • Pegwell Church

    I share many of the views expressed in this article. However, the comments of many of the respondents are accurate as well

  • Steven

    What if this person is your pastor? I serve on staff at a church where the pastor spends most of his time beating up the sheep with his messages and being very divisive. Because of this in the 17 years he has pastored this church, it has not grown past 25 people.

    • Warren Lamb

      @68d77c726854464fee4f18eafb4943db:disqus – Pray for the other leaders of the church and that you can all agree to confront this lovingly and uncompromisingly. If he remains unteachable, then it is probably tie to escort the sheep to safer pasture.

    • Pastor chibueze

      Steve I think his mentor or father in faith should be told. Except he is “lord of all”

    • Teretha Thornton

      Steven for 17 years? Why are you still there? I may have missed something. Do we not tell women in abusive relationships to get out as quick as possible once you recognize it. I can understand the church not growing because I don’t believe God would send his sheep and lambs into a mess like this. Confront him? For what? Do you really think there is any thing to be gained by that? I am so sorry for you all. Has anyone asked God what to do?

    • John

      How does a church of 25 have a “staff?”

  • tawands

    A good article. What Would Jesus Really Do? Jesus had the ability to be bold when needed, always wise, pray, and speak so people would clearly understand what the point really was and they could remember it.Love -the greatest of all.
    But add here is a buildings-bills-board-people and problems seem to come.It’s hard to imagine a good christian servant that has been hurtful to people within the church and no one ever corrected him/her for years.But it happens.You ask why has no one ever said a word of correction and this person also is a part of a small group that led to a big part of the congregation leaving forever because of the nastiness and even toward pastors.
    How do you now approach this? Some are aging out.I feel led to speak with love and boldness and after prayer- carefully choosing words -for people in my family were hurt by this person many times in front of others but never said a word and now it comes my way sometimes from them. Let there be peace on earth please!

  • Aristarico Phiri

    Those truths are very helpful. The danger is to fear this person or ignore him altogether. Well advised. Thank you.

  • Chibueze

    “Minimize there influence” wow! Key word. And ” lovingly aim to teach them” thanks for this.

  • Hiede

    I agree. A person who knows what he or she believes and who stands by that belief is very dangerous. Jesus was one of the most dangerous people who has ever lived. He believed differently and his teachings threatened the established churches of the time. I find it ironic that a church which claims to be based on his teachings practices the same type of intolerance towards others which was directed towards him.

    • Concerned

      You’ve missed the point the author made

  • Father Chip

    Spot on! This guy is usually under the influence of the Enemy and operates like an underground Pharisee…and takes others down his path with him.

    I’ve had him in my parish…and, two years after his departure (because I minimized his influence a bit) we’re still feeling the repercussions.

    The real antidote is fervent, united intercession for your congro and keeping your accounts short with the Lord.

  • Pastors hurt the most people

    So basically the Pastor.

    • Amanda

      How many have you really met and gotten to know… I see you name as pastors hurt the most people… So how many pastors have you gotten to know??? Is it them hurting people or the people trying to live in tradition and getting their feelings hurt when the Church Board decides to move the church in a direction they see god is leading… I have seen more people hurt a Pastor then the former.

  • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

    Thanks for this clear and helpful analysis. I need to be careful that I’m not “that guy”, for sure. Lately I’ve been asking myself, “Why are we hesitant to initiate church discipline with people?” I know we need to balance discipline with grace and forgiveness, but what prevents us from pursuing both paths at the same time? Trouble in a church is like rotting produce (probably a poor metaphor) – the sooner we deal with it, the better.

  • The Parson

    I haven’t read all 111 comments, but in case no one else has mentioned this, I need to point out that any Arminian can sniff out a Calvinist within 20 seconds, too. I don’t think this was the best comparison to use. Otherwise, I’m right there with you.

  • Vincent Aja

    Since pastors do move out and pastors do move in, and in the same manner based on pastors` theological views. What I do mean to say here is that today in almost every theological institution opinions differ, so what if a pastor happened to be a neo-liberal. Maybe you have not heard about the “Jesus Seminar” where the theologians have assembled themselves together just to agree that more than 70% of all what was accredited to the Lord Jesus were never the words of the Lord Jesus, but His disciples and the early Church have placed those words in His mouth. Again, they were teaching that Mary was never a Virgin when she gave birth to the Lord Jesus. Still they want pastors to be telling their congregations that somehow not everything written in Bible were right…. What shall I do if I was born into a Church and such teachers were hired to be pastors in our local Churches because of their academic qualifications? Shall I fold my hands and accept every rubbish thing that they are going to teach me because they are my pastors or do I switch and go to find another Church elsewhere? Please I need a help.

    • Ryan

      The one thing I like about no longer going to church is I don’t get caught up in these distractions from what is really important. The enemy likes to divide and conquer by pitting people against each other with doctrinal differences and cause doubt about God’s word. Christianity is not about going to church and getting to heaven but enjoying a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. What does things like predestination or whether the earth was created in 7 days or 7 thousand years or Mary a virgin or not have to do with our relationship with God? Those divisive things are used by the enemy to divide Christians. The church institution is a worldly business that seems to teach the things that cause division, things that keeps Christians separated in different churches. We all think the right thing to do is study to find truth to get everything right so that we are not deceived by false teachers not realizing we are feeding off the tree of knowledge and not the tree of life. Reading the bible is good, specifically reading strait through books and not jumping around. God will keep you strait and teach you what you really need to know. The Holy Spirit teaches but the church indoctrinates. God teaches us how to live Godly lives but the church teaches religiosity. The business needs us to pay the bills but we don’t need the business to know God. The business falsifies some doctrines for its own self preservation… I mean it can’t survive without money and it has to do what it can to keep people coming. It’s good to read the bible but be careful about subject studies. You can spiritually cut yourself on the sword blade and bleed out your own heresy.

      • John

        Wow Ryan! “I guess it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere” is your catchphrase? What predestination means, I’ll grant you shouldn’t be a reason to not fellowship together. But the creation, virginity of Mary, and many other things that liberals discount as unimportant, really do matter. If the Bible isn’t trustworthy, it’s either because it is just a “book of stories”, or it’s because God is incompetent. I wouldn’t have any desire to call myself a Christian if I believed either of those things to be true.

        • Ryan

          To the world, the bible is a book of stories. To me some of the stories is a response from God about some situation in life. The bible says “virgin” and “the evening and morning” was a day in creation. I believe it… but… it’s fyi stuff. No one can solidly refute it because no one alive today was there. Knowledge separated man from God and I see it separating man from man. I studied many subjects and had many debates and all for nothing now that I look back. Seemed so important at the time but as it says in Ecclesiates… ‘vanity’ or ‘meaningless’… ‘a chasing after the wind’. Love God and keep His commands. Enjoy the work of our hands. Enjoy the good days while they last and thank God for every one.

          • Amanda

            ahhhhhhh I think Ryan you have a lot of things a bit mixed up. First fellowship with other believers is a wonderful thing God gave us… in scripture. And second if the Bible weren’t true, and The creation story… and Mary’s virginity weren’t true, then the prophecy’s in Isaiah would be false…

          • Ryan

            You know how the law, which in itself is good, was a stumbling block to the Jews that had them so caught up in keeping the law they couldn’t see Christ? What if and this is just a “what if”, What if the revelation and knowledge brought about by the new testament ends up being the stumbling block to us Gentiles? As the law, revelation and knowledge isn’t evil. If we get so caught up in getting everything right with all the peripheral things, I think we can loose sight on the simplicity of the gospel and the relationship we have with God. Being away from the noise and distraction of church for a few years now, I’m living out the simplicity of the gospel. If you’ve ever been in a noisy reception hall with the loud music and then stepped outside and found the peace and quiet refreshing. That’s where I am. Outside in the cool night air, looking up at the stars, smelling that nice evening dampness. It’s been rather peaceful. By the way, I did say I believe the bible.

    • Amanda

      My brother in Christ… I would never stay in a church where false teaching is being preached and taught… Pray hard and earnestly seek God in this matter… Ask him where he wants you to be… Praying with you!

  • Jonathan Hughes

    A person is only dangerous to themselves. Stop trying to play the deadly blame game Adam and Eve played.

    • Bill

      Is that a joke?

    • Mircea Mitrofan

      My friend, have you heard of “wolves in sheep’s clothing”? This is not about blaming others for our mistakes, but addressing a sad reality. May the Lord open your eyes.

  • Gary DeVore

    Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

    16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

    17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

    18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

    20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

  • Larry Pearson

    AMEN! TO THIS ARTICLE

  • Dingdong

    did you just describe most pastors?

    • Amanda

      No he didn’t if you have a pastor that acts like that then I would question whether he is in the right profession/calling.

      • Dingdong

        You absolutely sure?

        • Joe

          I’m thinking Dingdong is just such a person as the article describes.

  • Amanda

    This is an awesome message… And the scripture to back it up is so great… Thank you!!!
    It is so hard to see people like this in your church and not know what to do about it… especially when they cause the division and the church splits up on small petty things.

  • RobB

    “Any Calvinist can sniff out an Arminian” So those who identify more with an Arminian influenced theology are among the most dangerous in the church? Really? You have a lot of great things to say and I agree being unteachable is one of the most dangerous of spirits one can have. So can those of a Calvinist or Arminian flavored theology not learn from each other? I really dislike this sort of kingdom splitting comment.

    • Mooketsi

      Yes, I somehow expected that statement to be followed by a simple “and vice versa”!

  • a Prophets Perception

    I can see how there would be a danger of those things. But didn’t God say 1st Apostles 2nd Prophets 3 Teachers not your church One church one Lord and One Spirit. Giving gifts to the Body for the equipping of the saints and maturing. Are you submitted to an Apostle Do you allow your prophets to speak if you do not have a teachers gift do you allow someone with that gift, Remember one of the things God set up is governments, I quite often find many pastors who preach this and yet in no way acknowledge the order of offices God set, same thing happened in the rebellion of korah in the old testament. WE all have a part got sets the order and authority. quite often I find the pastoral office leaving the abovementioned out. That is hypocrisy and could lead to being no different than a controlling preist how was it written in the old testament. preists bearing rule by their own means every house out for it’s own gain. Judge yourself and you won’t be judged. This article could go either way valid considerations or rebellion to church government resulting in the nicolation doctorine-controling laity my church don’t question me I rule attitude.

  • so so very sorry

    I went to this church. The pastor had been there for several years and some members did not like his style or what he was doing anymore. I mean they found fault with everything. Example he had all the bibles removed from the pews and challenged everyone to carry their own bibles. At the same time we had installed a new hymnal while keeping the old, thus the rack was to small. They mad such a stink along with 100 non issues. They waited til he was on vacation and had all new racks installed and put the bibles back along with hymnals. Here is the real problem.

    Eph 6:4

    Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring
    them up in the training and instruction of the
    Lord.

    I know that this is not the exact meaning of the scripture but, it took a new meaning for me. Just think how many left the congregation and church all together.

    I was a very young man raised in the church most of my life. I was active on boards and leader groups. I was so caught in the middle and not even understanding what was going on. I was friends with everyone. I watched the Pastor children and even house sit for them while out of town. It was never addressed in the open. Always behind doors. Well 22 years later I see how much damage it did to the ministry of that congregation. I left the church and am truly blessed at the congregation I still attend. Some of my young friends left and went home and have stayed there. I think it would have been better for the trouble makers to place a millstone around their necks. If the Pastor is just wrong take it to the proper people. If you do not get the answer you want, maybe you are wrong.

  • Mario

    AHAHAH, Erik; you are missing the point of the unteachable, because Jesus could be regarded as unteachable, He had His opinion and He caused division! The apostles did the same, that is why religious people of that era had Jesus killed and persecuted the new church. On the contrary I believe the unteachable have something to teach. If your church is in a rut the unteachable may have a way out of it, consider the possibilities.

    • Joe

      Such a weird answer. Okay, Erik, if Jesus comes to your church, I assume you won’t try to teach him anything. Sheesh.

  • Don Woods

    An article created by the indoctrinating mindset via most seminaries nowadays.

    Most young pastors ARE the person you describe. The entitled fraternity of certain demoniational, seminary, and Druckerite mega-church wannabes!

    Like most error there is some truth but very little in this article.

    • Peter Mahoney

      More “painting with a broad brush” from Brother Don Woods. Have you been to seminary? If so, which one? When? Looking to your criticism of this piece… would you proffer Scripture that would be a basis of your arguments?

    • Mar Komus

      I wouldn’t put this to seminaries exclusively. There are plenty of narrow-minded folk blinded by their own power and perceived infallibility of their position.

  • Preacher Ben

    I was wondering if the author was talking about me, himself or perhaps both or all of us?

  • Keith Sullivan

    The person that is described here is called a ‘rebel’ this is an unpopular word in todays church world but that is what he is speaking of. The Bible speaks a lot about these kinds of people. I have seen this play out in the church and it is never pretty.

    Titus 1:15-16 NKJV
    15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
    16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

    Romans 16:17-18 NKJV
    17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
    18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

    I could go on but the fact is that rebels justify themselves by saying that others (especially pastors or leadership) are ‘wrong’. At the heart of this is an undermining of pastoral authority (a thought that rebels never like).

    Jude 1:11 NKJV
    11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
    Korah would have been what is described in this article. read Numbers 16 and see how he spoke against Moses. Just my thoughts….

    • Mar Komus

      Church Bylaws
      ——————-
      Rule #1: The pastor is ALWAYS right
      Rule #2: If the pastor SEEMS wrong, please re-read these bylaws with an open heart and try not to be so judgmental and unteachable. Repent of your rebellious spirit and pray the Lord heals you to see it the pastor’s way.

      • Keith Sullivan

        It is not that the pastor is ‘always right’, as a pastor for 25+ years I can tell you that I have not always been right and I have seen even pastors fall in sin. The response is to the article, the undermining of the local ministry that God has placed there. Ultimately they will hurt themselves.

        • Mar Komus

          But you qualify the not “always right” as pastors who fall into sin. What you see as “undermining of the local ministry that God has placed there” might not be part of that. Perhaps God has appointed prophets to check the “vision” of the pastor (not that any ministry should ever be a one man show, anyway, since under the new covenant church hierarchy is void of such an animal).

          Those of us who are calling foul on this article, though, do so because, as I point out in my general comment to the article, he only seems to be demonizing some local opponents he’s dealing with in the broadest terms–terms which could apply equally to him from the point of view of his opponents. But he has the advantage of occupying a position of power. His cronies will naturally jump on the “respect mah ah-thori-tah” bandwagon and nothing productive will be accomplished. It’s the same as it’s always been: power hungry weaklings occupying positions of power as a compensatory prop for their glaringly obvious inadequacies outside the authority structure of organized church.

          “Ultimately they will hurt themselves.” Really? We can’t know that on a blanket basis. What are the specifics? For example, is the leader/vision caster following an unbiblical pattern of leadership? One that could lead to a personality cult-like following? Some who have their heads on straight and who don’t just drink every concoction of Kool-Aid dreamed up by said leader isn’t hurting themselves by opposing the leadership. Rather, he or she is holding that leader’s feet to the fire! And that needs to be done from time to time! I lead a small group myself. I’m not exempt! As a matter of fact, I rather foster accountability, “dissent,” etc. in favor of getting to the truth of matters.

          On the other hand, I’ve been kicked out of leadership. I opposed a particular curriculum because I knew the danger of teaching it. They didn’t believe me. Later on–months later–that ministry that produced the materials was exposed for the fraud it was! So leaders and pastors really need to learn how to listen to the non-professionals. They need to listen to dissent. They need to step off their high horses and put a little more value on the non-professional’s words and ideas.

          On the other hand, I know what someone like what’s described in the article can be like. Most often they wear the “KJV ONLY” hat, drive a car with a bumper sticker that says, “IF IT AIN’T KING JAMES, IT AIN’T BIBLE,” and really do put the “mental” in fundamentalism. The only Spanish words they know are “agua,” “burrito,” “taco,” “ban-yo” (or if they’re really sophisticated, they say, “bahn-yo”), and, “case-a-dilluh.” For them, America and Christianity are one in the same. America is God’s country. Israel is America’s older, little brother who needs our help militarily and maybe they’ll see Jesus is the Messiah. Canada is our weird, but peaceful neighbor. Etc. When you’re dealing with that element, then I can see how much of that will apply.

          But as general as he’s been in the article, I can’t say I can readily and heartily say, “Amen,” to his warning and encouragement.

          • Keith Sullivan

            Mar, I where to begin… first of all there is a great difference between a mistake and sin, and I in no way am justifying anyone who is immoral or a thief or a liar, but a mistake is different, sometimes in there is a bad judgment call or a misunderstanding. And I would agree with the “God and America” line that is totally blurred in some churches (too much talk radio for one). The KJV only crowd often don’t even know that the Bible was not originally written in English. But my issue is simply this, where does the authority of the pastor come from, if as you say a committee or the by laws, or a denomination or fellowship? If it is only from man, you have your points, but if it is from GOD and it is HIS calling for HIS church then you are not fighting a man but God and his plan, therein is the statement “that person is in rebellion against God” but because he cannot actually blame God, he/she takes it out on the pastor. As one author called them “High maintains, low impact Christians.” and that is what I saw in the article. SO, my question to you, are pastors from GOD or a work of man? Ephesians 4 tells us that ministry is for our maturity and without it we are easily lead astray, thus my statement “they will hurt themselves”, never mind how this usually plays in the children’s hearts. Seen it too many times.

          • Mar Komus

            I’ll address only this: “Where does the authority of the pastor come from?”

            Point of clarification: 1) whom do you mean by, “the pastor?” 2) What do you mean by “authority?”

          • Keith Sullivan

            And therein is the point, these are Biblical words, so the definition comes from the scriptures (of which you have not sighted one), So I will not bother giving you the “Vine’s” or “Strong’s” definitions as this would not mean much to you.. Biblical Christianity shows that a pastor has authority, so now is your argument against me or the Bible. We have gone full circle shown what Eric was speaking about in the article. 2Tim 4:4-5

          • Mar Komus

            There is no “we” to going full circle to what Eric was talking about. That’s only in your mind, not mine.

            Neither have you cited any scripture defining “pastor” or “authority.” So I guess that makes us even on that, doesn’t it? My real question, though, had to do with whom YOU mean when you say, “the pastor,” and what YOU mean when you use the word “authority.” Since you won’t answer what YOU mean, and since you want your definitions to be taken from scripture without actually citing any yourself, I’ll take the liberty you’ve implicitly extended to me and define those terms for you (in the tradition of “Bible things by Bible names”).

            First, “pastor.” The English word is derived from a Latin root that means, “shepherd”–a good translation of the Greek poimen–which also means, “shepherd.”

            As used in the Greek scriptures in relation to the subject at hand, a shepherd is a teaching and caring role in the congregation (ekklesia) as evidenced by Ephesians 4:11 (which, the Greek could arguably be translated, “pastor-teachers”). Christ is said to be the Chief Shepherd (Senior Pastor?) in 1 Peter 5:4 (by way of a compound word). Elsewhere, He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11ff). The word is used sparingly, though the image of the shepherd is far reaching.

            By way of making connections, the verb form of poimen is used in connection with the elders (presbyteros) from Ephesus, who are told to “shepherd” the congregation of God (Acts 20:17, 28), in connection to Peter, who is told to “shepherd” Christ’s sheep (John 21:16), in connection to elders, again, Peter–speaking as a colleague–says to them to shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1, 2).

            The overseer, elder, and pastor are all rolled together in Acts 20:28 and its context as well as an unmistakable comparison between 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Therefore, when I refer to “pastor,” I shall mean an overseer and elder as well.

            That there is a plurality in leadership in the churches is clearly evident by the appointing of multiple elders in each city (Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5; which say, “elders in each city,” not “an elder in each city”). Now it could be discussed as to whether there might have been one pastor assigned to a congregation (which congregations met primarily in people’s houses), but that’s about the extent of it. And where the scriptures are silent, we do well to keep silent and allow that matter of opinion to be respected as such (Romans 14:1-15:13).

            THAT SAID, we can then hold that the ROLE of the pastor is established by divine decree in scripture. But, hold onto your hat, because I’m not done. Next, “authority.”

            I’m going to latch onto the Greek word “exousia.” It has an area of meaning in translation to English, but has really only one idea behind it: authority. Imagine that! It’s used to describe Jesus’ teaching mannerism (“as one having authority”) by way of contrast to other teachers who lacked it (Matthew 7:29). It’s used when the centurion says he is “under authority” (Matthew 8:9).

            So when you say, “authority of the pastor,” I’m still a little lost. His authority for what? Ok…since I’m defining things from scripture, I’m going to take it as his authority to carry out the duties assigned to him. So what is a pastor’s role? To “shepherd” the flock of God. That means feeding, taking care of, counseling, encouraging, correcting, rebuking, training.

            But it also means being able to receive those things as well. Paul rebuked Peter when he was in the wrong (Galatians 2:11-21). Paul argued against circumcision for Gentiles (Acts 15). All these we see in retrospect as no-brainers, but back then those were controversial! Paul didn’t trump any of his opponents with his “missionaries first” card, did he? No. They paid attention to discussion and logic–not authority alone. Remember that the Berians checked what they were told against the scriptures to see if what was being said was so! Any deviation would have spelled disaster–despite the authority with which God had entrusted Paul!

            So while the pastorate might be a position that has some degree of authority–and that authority derived from heaven–it would do a pastor well not to put so much trust in some perceived infallibility of that role and authority. Nor should he exceed mandate! The qualifications for being an elder indicate that the role is meant to be one of modeling and teaching. But the possibility that the pastor is wrong is ever-present! And it’s a dangerous possibility (Acts 20:29-31)! That’s why a pastor must “watch his life and doctrine carefully”–listening to those who are around him and to whom the Lord might be speaking a word of knowledge or wisdom. The pastor is not the end-all-and-be-all. That’s the mistake of authoritarian dictators. And Jesus said it’s not to be like that among us (Luke 22:24ff). The pastor is to be a servant. “Not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).

            My original point, though, was simply that the article’s author paints far too broad a brush stroke to be able to pin down what the real issues are for him. What he wrote could equally apply to him, if the details were known.

          • Keith Sullivan

            Mar, although I do agree with many of the things that you wrote above about pastors and the full biblical definitions of the word and office (kudos for that). You asked for the authority of the leader I s scripture:

            2 Corinthians 10:8 NKJV
            8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—

            2 Corinthians 13:10 NKJV
            10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

            Titus 2:15 NKJV
            15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

            These are just some, but the understanding is there. This is not liked and I go back to the first thought, rebels hate authority.
            Jude 1:8 NKJV
            8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

            2 Peter 2:10 NKJV
            10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,
            With this I am done as we are going in circles here. You are I come from very different places concerning the issues raised in this article. Every pastor needs proper checks and balances but they should come from proper channels such as leadership and church councils and not a self appointed critic.
            With this I am done, I wish you well.

          • Mar Komus

            Perhaps what should have been made clear from the outset is that QUESTIONING the PEOPLE who happen to be in a position of authority is NOT the same thing as DESPISING or REJECTING AUTHORITY. Yet far too many leaders take it that way! The people are allowed “constructive criticism,” which translates to asking clarifying questions about what the leader wants, but in the end the leader is going to do what the leader is going to do! And if anybody opposes him, he’s “despising authority.” Psychological theatrics. Nothing more.

            As for who has the right to hold the leader accountable: well it has to start somewhere! The kings weren’t confronted by their cronies in the back-slapping club, but by ordinary folk! They were prophets, yes. But did they go to Mediterranean Prophet College? Did they receive their right to be prophets from the king or from a priest? Not at all! Rather, they were called of God! Just as the kings were to submit to the words of the prophets, so pastors–in order to improve their leadership–must also listen to those in the congregation who very well may be serving as God’s prophets to warn them–even vehemently–against certain things.

            But really, it does get a bit pointless to argue these because, as I’ve been saying, the particulars of these cases would balance out any misunderstandings. Who knows? If I knew the particulars of what Eric was talking about, I’d probably fully agree with him. And if you or he knew the particulars of what I’m talking about, you both might heartily agree that the pastor was in the wrong.

            What you call a “self appointed critic” could very well be a prophet of God. After all, prophets, being called of God apart from graduating from prophet college, would have appeared to the kings as “self appointed critics.” Remember Ahab? Review 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18. Ahab didn’t like God’s prophet because he always prophesied bad things against him. Was Micaiah “despising authority?” Well with our 20/20 hindsight fully engaged, we can say, “Oh! Well! I would have stood with Micaiah! B’cuz he was a prophet of God!” Sure. Whatever. Right. But at the time, they didn’t have the advantage of hindsight. Ahab had authority. He was king. But Micaiah prophesying against Ahab wasn’t a despising or rejecting of his authority; it was a calling to account. And remember, Micaiah was, with the exception of this story, an unknown. We only know that he had a history of speaking bad things about the king. Again, we know he did so at the command of God.

            In the same way, pastors need to learn to listen for the voice of the Lord in the congregation and not just the little voice in his head that’s only as big as he is.

            Pastors, indeed, are just as capable of walking according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despising authority–especially the authority of the prophets! Remember: God appointed in the church first missionaries, then evangelists, then prophets, then pastor-teachers (combining 1 Corinthians 12:28 with Ephesians 4:11). So perhaps it would be fair to say that pastors need to learn to knuckle under and submit to the authority of the prophets. Wait. You don’t like that? Are you despising authority? The truth is, when a pastor doesn’t listen, he’s doing EXACTLY that for which he criticizes the “critic!”

            But we must always remember that the Lord gave authority NOT to lord it over those entrusted to our care, but to be examples and faithfully instruct.

            Again, the particulars of what Eric means would be more enlightening than just these blanket rants that sound more like venting that’s been white-washed in scripture.

            But it seems some pastors can’t see themselves as being on equal footing. They haven’t learned that they are servants. “Not to be served, but to serve.” That’s our motto. That’s our practice as servants of the Word. The authority we have is the same as the authority/servant structure of a teacher. A teacher serves his or her students by teaching. But the student must also submit to the learning process so that the teacher can serve. That doesn’t mean, from time to time, that it’s wrong for a student to question–or, if the teacher is a bad teacher–to even oppose the teacher. It only means that the student should never raise Cain just for the sake of doing it. THAT would be rebellion.

  • Joe

    The frustrating thing(s) about this guy is that: a) he teaches a Sunday School class at church and comes across to his members as so spiritual, so humble, so fine, and b) he can pray the best prayer anyone ever heard. So he gets called on often. If the pastor told people what this guy is doing to him, they would not believe it.

    • Jeff

      Wow, this hit the target for me Joe!
      My current challenge is how to provide the pastoral care, love and understanding that is needed by an “unteachable” that is attacking me, while also making certain that similar “background” behavior isn’t causing harm to others in our congregation.

  • ServantHeart2012

    Recycled article. Nothing new available?

  • Ray Johnson

    If you think it’s the pastor who is unteachable, look again. Just saying…

    • Mar Komus

      We do try to look. The problem is the broad brush approach he takes. He’s demonizing people who have probably long since left, who are poorly described, and likely untraceable. He also fails to detail what the specific objections are, thus slighting us of any chance to take him to task if he happens to be wrong. The voices of his opponents aren’t heard. In the end, he won and wrote the history books.

  • Anjanette Potter

    What’s the difference between this person and a person who is trying keep the leadership from taking advaantage of him/her. I’m teachable, but not gullible.

    • Roger Culwell

      this person just
      want’s to argue, he has it all figured out, you can’t teach him, it’s his way or know way, and the truth is we will still be learning, when we step into eternity

      • Mar Komus

        *no way

  • Roger Culwell

    yeah some bring there old religion into a place and try’s to convert people into them, and you can’t teach them, they just want to argue, they have know intention of changing

    • Mar Komus

      *no intention

  • Ned

    Erik, I have one word regarding your article, “boring”. It also is not well thought out and researched. You need to get with the times and realize where the state of the church is in 2014. We should be talking about the fact that people are not going to church like they used to and why that is. I would also add that ‘butt warmers” are more silent killers by far than these intellectuals you mention. “Butt Warmers” are people that go to church and will listen to a sermon but are apathetic when it comes to Christian service in the church. Their primary purpose is to get rather than give. Please consider eliminating this article from your site. It is almost like you are caught up in a time warp and landed 30 years to late. This might have been more applicable 30 years ago when people were actually going to church and these type of intellectuals existed. Yawn… crickets….

    • Jim Wilburn

      Ned; we can talk about trying to reach the unchurched, but this is also important. I have seen the unchurched start to come to a church where I pastored and they became excited. Then all of sudden they stopped. Their reason, they were repelled by the self-righteous – the very people the author addresses.

  • Charles

    Erik, no idea what Ned’s problem is (although he is correct about the apathetic), but I can tell you that these guys sure do exist and can be far more than frustrating…as they can spread dissension among the brethren, a la Proverbs. Absaloms. They are used by Satan.

    Well said.

  • Josie

    I kind of agree with Ned. There seems to be more pressing issues facing the local church rather than the type of person that is being referred to by the writer of this article. There are always going to be 1 or 2 in every church that have this sort of Pharisee mindset. That will always be the case throughout time and has been like this for years.

  • Mar Komus

    This sounds more like a personal rant that’s been sanitized in scriptural thought and language to make the demonization of his opponents more palatable to his audience. Since he doesn’t address specific issues, it’s impossible to tell if these “smart guys who are unteachable” really are as he says, or if they happen to be spot on. We don’t know if he isn’t the unteachable one and might do well to be more open-minded to what the “smart guy who is unteachable” has to say.

    Let’s remember, Jesus Himself would have come across very much as the “smart guy who is unteachable.”

    Rather than paint caricatures and build straw men to avoid issues, we would do much better to realize that the most dangerous person in our churches is the man or woman we look at in the mirror every morning. For that person, we must pray. For that person, we should lovingly aim to teach him or her. We should minimize that person’s influence–decreasing, so that He might increase. And we should daily confront that person and make sure he or she is open to correction.

    Otherwise he or she will become the most dangerous: the smart one who is unteachable.

    • Marques Armstrong

      Wow, you make a very good point. One which I believe to be true. We should always address the pack in our own eyes beige addressing splinter in our fellow brutes and sisters. This doesn’t go against what the writer is saying though. We must be on guard for divisive individuals… that’s why God gave us discernment. Discernment is a tool which is supposed to be used to know who, how, and what to pray for. Leading and showing us how to address what we’ve discerned.

  • Ken Levin, Sr.

    Being in my 70’s and involved in church ministry since 1966, I’ve met the Theological Meisters. However, my choice for the number 1 enemy of the church is the nearly ever-present backbiter/gossip who you can’t protect the flock or yourself from…, and they too can be weak Christians. Sure, I’ve entertained that maybe God allows them among us to grow us somehow individually. Whatever the reason, some may eventually need to be dismissed from the church, which usually results in greater gossip. Lord deliver us from gossips.

  • Brian J Lassiter

    There is so much unteachability and lack of observation in the dissenting comments that replies to them would be a waste of time. They are from the objects of the article – one of whom actually thinks he could teach Jesus. Thus, the comment section shows the need to pray for them, and for us, that we might respond as from God, and not from our gut.

    • Guest

      So the church bylaws read, “Rule 1: The pastor is always right. Rule 2: If the pastor is wrong, button your lip and re-read Rule 1.” Is that how it should be?

      • Pastor Mike

        I do not think that was the point of the article, but I am a pastor. One has to remember Jesus had Judas in His circle, and He picked Him to fulfill the Scriptures. I have had to deal with the majority of these type people and I do so lovingly. I have never told anyone to “button their lip” unless they are putting down someone else to make themselves look better. Be Blessed all.

      • Shane

        Re read the article brother. He states clearly that constructive criticism is not what he is talking about.

    • Mar Komus

      You only exacerbate the problem by throwing out a blanket condemnation without addressing specific points with which you disagree.

      • Brian J Lassiter

        Point made. Thanks.

  • pastortomm

    The wisdom, pride, and self-righteousness of the writer and the commenters (including me) is a bit overwhelming… :-0

  • Sylvia

    I have seen more unteachable ppl within the ranks of the celebrity evangelists than I have seen in the pews. If you want to see destructive criticism, just turn on the TV to certain supposedly Christian stations. Most of them disgrace themselves through scandal like Jimmy Swaggart and the Bakkers. You will know them by their fruit.

  • geniegirl

    When you have a church full of “unteachables”, it’s time to leave.

    • James Beyersdorf

      When 1 or 2 students are failing it’s probably the students, but when the whole class is failing maybe it’s the teacher. If the church is full of “unteachables” it is indeed time to leave, but probably not because of them.

  • mamazee

    If you have smart people in your church who have questions maybe you should pair them up with other smart people so they can hash theological questions out without “wasting” the pastor’s time. I’ve been treated like i am unteachable, when what i really was, was confused by the weird heresies tearing my family and circle of friends apart. But no pastors had time to just sit down and talk me through it.

    • Horace Graham

      @ mamazee, A Pastors time should never be wasted on the neg. anyone whom I pastor always know to keep asking until we get it right, No one in the church should say someone is unteachable, first we pray for help from above and with faith your light will really shine. Too many Pastors use college size word only to impress themselves….me I keep it simple just as the Bible teaches…Love you and would love to help you any way I can….Amen!

      • mamazee

        Horace, i really would like to ask you a few questions, if you have time. – can you PM me?

  • Kurt Powell

    Again missing the point. The passage in titus is referring to the Elders not preachers. So you cannot call a preacher a pastor

    • Cam

      Not sure I agree with you there. An elder in the latter part of the New Testament is understood to be pastoral oversight, and one of the qualifications was to be able to teach. I would argue that an ‘elder’ in Paul’s letters = preacher in the local expression of church that they operated under. My understanding is that the elders at least in Acts were present to uphold Apostolic Doctrine while the Deacons looked to the welfare and admin of the church.

  • Anon

    Thank you for this article, wish I read it last year. One of the unteachables took away 75% of our young people, none of them follow Jesus anymore. He was one of those who always had only negative things to say about the pastor and was doing wolf activity behind our backs. :( very sad loss for us

  • Wondimu Mekuria

    God Bless You! This is really important for those in the ministry and other ordinary persons!

  • Jeff

    Wow! I am amazed and dismayed with the outpouring of comments that seem to take what is written and extrapolating on it with more than was the apparent intent. Characteristically, when a certain mind-set is in place when one reads something it tends to “flavor” the comprehension of the reader. Therefore, what is read could be determined as right or wrong, negative or positive,…
    If I was a pastor under attack by a person manifesting the characteristics of Eric’s article, I would find much validation and worth in it, and respond positively.
    If I were a person manifesting the characteristics of Eric’s article it is likely that I would find it invalid and worthless, and respond negatively.

    • avoiceinthewilderness

      That’s kind of a cop out answer. There are times where Jesus is the one orchestrating what we perceive as division. It’s more often pastoral pride taking offense at the suggestion the sermons thrust was off base rather then an unwarranted criticism.
      ‘If this guy is a Christian” is kind of a tell also. If he’s not then what?

    • Mar Komus

      Again, this only beatifies the positive responses and demonizes the negative ones. The negative ones might be right and the positive way off base. Positive and negative don’t necessarily work out to good and evil, respectively.

      The truth is, we don’t know what the author has in mind. He’s too generic about it. We can say we know someone like that, but what if our own pride is blinding us to the issues that person has and we simply don’t want to look bad in front of everyone? Or maybe power has blinded a leader and any kind of dissent–right or wrong–is arguing against God? We must be more careful.

  • Mike

    Actually you just described me. Every pastor has these maladies that need constant infusion of God’s grace to continue to be fresh and keep people focused on the goal of making disciples.

  • vm

    Same can be said of pastors can be the most dangerous person in a church where there is no accountability. My first pastor of 15 years was put in jail for drug trafficking, and sold the church building leaving us all without a church, nondenominational church with board members being family members also. My second pastor which I was about 5 years went with the church secretary and caused one of the biggest division in town. My third Pastor of three years preached the word but refused to do anything about a man fondling an elderly lady in the congregation, was more interested in the money the man gave to the church. In the end, Pastors are just as much sinners as all of us. I am not one to cause division nor have I taken anybody out from any church, but I’ve seen and lived the abuses first-hand that pastors bring and have shipwrecked the faith of many precious and good people in the name of God or religion, which usually begins with slight deviations from the Word of God, the Bible and bringing in false teachers and ministers that have not even read through their Bibles at least once. In my humble opinion, a pastor can be the most dangerous person in the church when there is no accountability, if the board of directors is only family, or if they are not affiliated with a major denomination. The most dangerous churches are the ones that are not affiliated to any major denomination and everything is under the pastor’s name and not the church’s.

    • James Beyersdorf

      Pastors who have no accountability are being unteachable. A few years back as a youth Pastor I witnessed a guest Prophet come into a church and speak with the Senior Pastor’s blessing. The visiting Prophet spoke quite accurately to the church’s situation. His suggestions were ignored by the Senior Pastor and dismissed without the slightest of considerations. Within the next year issues started arising and eventually things started falling apart. The Pastor’s “unteachableness” was the root of the collapse. I was eventually removed from my youth Pastor role for questioning the relationship of the Senior Pastor’s adult son with one of the youth. I was given a church to Pastor 2 states away just to get rid of the dissenting voice. With that said, “unteachable” is very dangerous whether it is a congregation member, a ministry worker, or a Pastor. Proverbs 29:1 explains that a person who is corrected often and hardens themselves to it will be destroyed “without remedy.”

  • Tom

    I have a friend who is quite joy-robbing in the church. There was a time while everyone was giving new ideas to develop the church, he just gave like all the negative opinions about those ideas instead of considering the opportunities and made everyone feel worried and sad. He once made a lady leave the church with his discouraging talk. I continually pray for him and he is getting better. One thing I’ve learned from this situation is that praying is always the most important thing. I might help him to get better with any way but it’s God who changes and renew my friend from within. It’s God who puts in him a new heart.

  • don

    4. He Is Joy-Robbing
    A church that is teachable brings its leaders joy. A church or church member who is not robs them of joy. It’s that simple (Hebrews 13:7, 10). I can attest to the fact that this is very true.

    A – men.

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