The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
Why were the Bereans more noble than those in Thessalonica? Two reasons: 1) They received the Word with all eagerness. 2) They went back home and examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas preached lined up with the Word of God.
We should always receive God’s Word preached to us with all eagerness. We shouldn’t sit there, arms crossed with an “I dare you to try to teach me something” attitude. At the same time, that doesn’t mean we must accept everything a pastor says without question. We can be both eager to hear God’s word preached, yet at the same time be discerning.
It’s not wrong see if what a pastor preaches lines up with the Bible. A pulpit doesn’t make you infallible.
Some pastors give the impression that to question them is insubordination. Pastors aren’t a different breed of Christians, but sinners just like the people they preach to. I always try to discourage people from calling me “Pastor Mark” or “Reverend” (though I will accept “Your Highness” from my wife). I tell them “pastor” is just my job description. I say if you’re going to call me Pastor Mark, then I’m going to call you Carpenter Bob.
Years ago, a local church brought a “prophet” in for several weeks of meetings. Because some our members attended the meetings, I went to a couple. One night, this man “prophesied” to a young lady, “You are a key, and this town will sin no more.” The whole place erupted with applause and cheers. Except for me and the pastor with me. I thought, “Well, one thing’s certain-I’m in this town and I’m going to sin.”
This “prophet” said many other crazy things, like “Don’t let your doctrine get in the way of the Holy Spirit.” What? The Holy Spirit is the Author of doctrine! His listeners were eager to hear the Word preached, but most didn’t go home and examine the Scriptures to see if what he said was so.
We can question pastors’ actions, too.
There are qualifications for pastors in Scripture. They must lead their families, be husbands of one wife, be above reproach, and have good reputations. This means we can examine their lives. But even the best pastors sin, drop the ball, make mistakes, and make poor decisions at times. No pastor should ever say, “Who are you to question me?”
I’m thankful for the folks in our church who’ve come to us with questions or disagreements. Sometimes, they’ve been nervous. (How could anybody be nervous about coming to me? This is me – Mark – gentle, approachable, laid back Mark. I always calm down after screaming for 10 minutes – JUST KIDDING!)
Pastors should be glad when people come with questions, thoughts, or observations even if they have a poor attitude. Even when someone expresses themselves in anger, there’s probably something the pastor really needs to consider. There may be truth in what they’re saying even if it comes with extra baggage. We shouldn’t reject questions or criticism because someone doesn’t express themselves perfectly.
Help your pastor. Help him preach more accurately. Help him see how to lead and care for people better. Encourage him. And if you have questions, feel free to ask.