Preaching and Pastoring in Hard Times


Preaching Ain’t Easy

IFB sects are sometimes reminded that while preaching is neither easy nor popular, their preachers works hard. Very hard. And while I’ve absolutely no statistical basis for so saying, I’ll say some do. But fundamentalism being what it is, IFB preachers will never wrestle with some of the most perplexing and difficult issues other pastors face every week.

M. Craig Barnes is no Christian fundamentalist. But his freshly published article, ‘The Pastors I Worry About’ [Christian Century, Jan 4, 2017] names a number of difficult issues no fundamentalist pastor should ever face.

The Princeton Theological Seminary President points out that having the President-elect they wanted, many are now stuck advocating for someone whose private life and public policies contradict much of what preachers should say in their pulpits. I would suggest that other than protesting supposed lack of support for Israel, few IFB pastors will chafe much at that lack of morality.

That is a hard problem, but few IFB pastors will face it.

Then again, there are preachers who denounced Mr. Trump, who said that the center would hold, that churches would remain sanctuaries for Muslim-Americans and that harassed women would still be protected? What are those preachers now to say to their congregations?

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Barnes’ article shows special concern for pastors of politically divided congregations. In our much conflicted vision, he perceptively sees a tearing at our churchly mission. Undoubtedly this is more so where churches understand and take seriously their calling from God to be Jesus Christ to the poor, the hungry, the stranger, the marginalized, the uninsured, the undocumented, the outcasts and more.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Barnes understands the need to unite congregations while being prophetic on issues that matter, to attend deep wounds without special pleading to ‘be nice,’ and to preach into cultural divisions while also transcending opposed political platforms that shape those divisions. Barnes does not say so, but preaching requires the wisdom of Ahithophel.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Perhaps the most trying challenge many preachers will have is to fulfill their calling and promise to love all the members of their congregation, including those the pastor believes committed grave error of judgment when they went to the polling station.

For all they may say about the pastorate being a tough job, they should have to try to navigate these political minefields, along with all the normal stuff encountered in the pastorate. The fact is, plenty of pastors are faithful while struggling every week with issues of conscience.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

2 thoughts on “Preaching and Pastoring in Hard Times”

    1. Dear Mike:

      I think that’s fairly standard. I’ve never known of a ‘conservative, Bible-believing, Independent Fundamental Baptist ‘church’ which at the same time was politically progressive. If that mixture exists, I certainly haven’t seen it. And if it did, I’d be interested in seeing how the pastor managed to keep the ship together if it was divided between staunch conservatives, definite progressives, and a couple of radical socialists. If the make-up was such that Reverend’s salary depended on keeping everyone on-board, I think he’d have to become something of a verbal gymnast.


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