During the week, I usually take time to listen to sermons from various pastors around the world. I have a few “go to” pastors that I listen to on a regular basis. Others I stumble upon…others I check out because of a friends suggestion or an article I’ve read.
This week, I listened to two sermons that used the same passage of Scripture as their foundation. The two sermons were extremely different.
The first one I listened to was from a pastor down in Texas…a former youth ministry student…a young man who I have had the honor and privilege of knowing and watching grow, mature, and develop into an outstanding pastor and an extremely effective communicator. I tend to check out his sermons as soon as they are posted. He is passionate…he is energetic…he is entertaining (not that it’s important, but it does impact how the message is received)…he is knowledgeable…he makes clear points…he encourages and challenges his listeners. At the end of his message, one is renewed, restored, and transformed. It was an excellent sermon.
The next sermon I listened to simply because I saw a facebook post that mentioned the sermon. So, I found the church website and took a listen. As I listened to the sermon, all I could think was, “Why is this guy so angry?” The overall tone of the message was…well…kind of negative, angry, and confusing. As I listened, I noticed that the content of the sermon was less than theologically and doctrinally sound. It was all over the place. I was trying to figure out exactly how the points the pastor was attempting to make fit in with the passage of Scripture…wondering how, exactly, had this pastor come to this particular interpretation of the passage. The pastor may have been attempting to be passionate and energetic…but it really came off as angry and judgmental. Honestly, in light of the first sermon, it seemed bizarre.
That got me thinking…
1. I’ve never understood the whole angry pastor thing. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Are there things to get angry about? Sure. And I believe angry pastors would qualify as something to get angry about. It’s like they have totally forgotten the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other.” ~Galatians 5:22-26
2. I’m convinced that angry pastors are generally arrogant pastors (see the verse above). Maybe the reason they are so upset and angry is because people disagree with them? They feel they have it all figured out, there is no possible way they could be wrong, and therefore we would be silly not to take them seriously. And, when people challenge them, they get angry. Therefore, they really have to “give it to them” when they preach.
3. Angry pastors are generally angry about the wrong things. Well, this could go on for pages and pages. Let’s just make a general statement that angry pastors are usually not upset about the injustices faced by “the least of these” on a daily basis. Instead, they are generally angry about various political/moral issues (homosexuality, abortion, which political party is in power, etc.). As one of my very wise, former high school principal’s once told me, “You have every right to get angry. Just make sure you are getting angry about the right things.”
4. Angry pastors always make me think about Alley Oops, the 50’s-style diner in Elkhart. I used to meet up with a group of youth pastors at Alley Oops on a regular basis. We all came from different backgrounds…so when it came to theology and doctrine, things could get pretty heated. One day, a guy brought in a video to promote an event his church would be hosting. At the end of the video, one of my good friends said, “That scared the hell out of me.” The response, “Good. That’s the idea. We’ve got to scare the hell out of people.” Maybe that’s the deal with angry pastors…they are attempting to scare the hell out of their congregations. To be honest, I’ve never found scare tactics to be an effective evangelism tool.
5. Angry pastors generally give the church a bad rap. Sometimes they do more damage than good…
6. Pastors sometimes don’t realize that they come off as angry, arrogant, and judgmental. Often, angry pastors (and pastors in general) are not fully aware of their tone…of how they come across to their listeners. They may just really be excited…they may have just had too much coffee…and what they are convinced is passion is heard as anger. I’m sure there have been times that I’ve come off as angry, arrogant, and judgmental (like right now as I am judging angry pastors).
So, maybe I was meant to listen to the angry pastors sermon…simply for the reminder to be fully aware of my tone and style of delivery so that I don’t slip into the category of an angry pastor.