Bible Question:

How do you approach your pastor (of five years) and tell him that he has not been in line with the Word of God? And if this is such a touchy subject, and if he is unapproachable, do you just accept the decision to find a new church?

Bible Answer:

This is a very difficult situation since I am sure your pastor has some supporters who agree with him just as much as some who agree with you. Almost always there are two camps. Typically, one camp is more scripturally focused. There are times when those supporting a pastor’s position will do so in spite of scripture. Sometimes they emphasize love and ignore the balance of the rest of scripture. Sometimes it is such an emotional issue that the truth is difficult to discover. Frequently, the central issue is obscured or lost when one or both parties become offended during an attempt at resolution.

In spite of that, I would encourage you to start by reading some of the materials in our Leadership section and the questions and answers entitled, “What does a Christian do when their pastor is sinning and will not repent?” and “Should I leave this church?” They will provide a better understanding for what follows.

Second, it can be difficult on occasions to accept the possibility that the actions of our leaders are logical and justified. It is easy to be critical of leaders’ decisions when we are sitting in their meeting struggling with the issues. Usually, the congregation has only some of the facts and not all of them. A little information is dangerous because one can believe that one has all of the information when in fact one does not.

But you state that your pastor is not “in line with the Word of God.” I understand that to mean that your pastor is either teaching false doctrine, twisting it for his own purposes, or ignoring his biblical responsibilities in his teaching in some way. If your statements are true, then your pastor is in sin, and you have a biblical responsibility to speak with him about your concerns. Therefore, I would recommend that you, along with some other people, meet with him. Start by telling him your concerns, and then give him an opportunity to explain himself. Sometimes they leave important facts out. This can result in misunderstanding and sometimes the listener is not knowledgeable enough to realize that the teacher or preacher is speaking the truth. Some of our churches are very weak when it comes to teaching. Listen to his explanations, but do not make any commitments or statements of apology or condemnation during or at the close of the meeting. After the meeting you will have an opportunity to reflect on what was said. Then you might want to return for another visit.

Conclusion:

If you conclude that your pastor is teaching error, then meet with him again and tell him. Tell one of the leaders your concern if the pastor does not listen to you. This is the start of church discipline (see “What does a Christian do when their pastor is sinning and will not repent?”). If the leadership refuses to address the issue and you still believe that the pastor is in sin after all of the discussion, then it is time to leave. It is time to leave because the leadership has failed to act. May the Lord bless you.