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.)