The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
Myth 1: Since the preacher was led by God in the preparation, it would be wrong to evaluate the sermon.
There are plenty of myths floating around. You may have heard of some. You may have thought of others.
Here are a few that bear a little bit of scrutiny. Let’s start with this one:
1. Since the preacher was led by God in the preparation, it would be wrong to evaluate the sermon.
Here is one I heard a few years ago. Astonishingly, it was spoken by a church leader in reference to a visiting speaker. The speaker had preached a message that was technically wrong in some details, but more overwhelmingly unhelpful as a whole.
I gently mentioned this to a more senior leader in the church who made it clear that it was not his place to evaluate what this godly man had been led to by God in his preparations. Huh?
Here’s one reason why this dear brother was wrong. The pastoral leadership of a church has the biblically defined role of shepherding the flock, which includes at least four elements. The shepherds, that is, the pastors or elders, are responsible for the feeding and leading of the flock, as well as making sure it is protected and cared for.
All four elements of the leadership role come into play when a sermon is preached. Whether the elder/pastor is preaching or not, he is responsible.
Therefore, if a visiting preacher is unhelpful in any of these areas, it is the spiritual responsibility of the leadership to evaluate that message and determine whether something needs to be done retrospectively or just in anticipation of any future visit. Non-evaluation is not a spiritual option, it is pastoral abdication.
That is specifically in respect to the pastoral leadership, but what about the average listener? Acts 17:11 is informative for us: The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians – they listened intently to the apostles and they checked the Scriptures to see if what they heard was so.
There is no footnote or marginal comment that adds, “but if the preacher has prayerfully prepared then the above referenced eagerness and Scriptural evaluation does not apply”.