“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision… ” (Philippians 3:2).
You’re on your church’s pastor search committee? Good for you. It’s a difficult task, one that can make or break your church for a long time to come. But this can be one of the finest services you render for the Lord and His church.
At first, you step tentatively into those pastor-searching waters, testing to see if they are acidic (scary, dangerous), too deep (you’re in over your head) or turbulent (requiring skills you do not have).
Then, you go forward.
In your search for the next pastor of the Lord’s people, there are ten thousand things for you to know and remember, to watch out for and to stay away from. What follows below is just one of the prohibitions, a summation of some pastor-types you and your committee will want to be wary of.
By the way, this is what Paul was doing with Timothy, cautioning him against certain types who would impose themselves on the Lord’s churches.
When he said to beware the dogs and evil workers and false circumcision, Paul referred to those who would mutilate the church (think of wild dogs tearing into a defenseless victim), misuse the church (working their evil, which comes in all kinds of varieties) and mislead the church (pushing their false doctrine, in this case that believers had to be circumcised to be saved).
I love the way Beeson Divinity School’s Frank Thielman puts it in the NIV Commentary, “Beware the curs! Beware the criminals! Beware the cutters!”
All right. Beware of these preacher-types in your quest for God’s leader for the flock…
1. Single issue pastors
In the political realm, a “single-issue candidate” has one big item on his mind, some change he or she wants to introduce in Congress. They are the abortion candidates, the big-oil candidates, the environmental candidates or the Tea Party candidates. There are pastors like this, men who have one huge thing on their plate and all their sermons and programs revolve around it.
A friend told me of a pastor under whom he once served. With that man, everything was missions. And in his case, it was one country in particular where he was always traveling to minister and taking church groups. My friend said, “Too bad if we wanted to do something for the children in our church, take the youth on a retreat or needed to renovate the fellowship hall. The pastor needed those funds for Guatemala.”
In most cases, pastors need to be generalists, not specialists. They are called upon to be students and teachers of God’s word, to deliver great sermons, to administer the staff, and to oversee a church that ministers to all age groups, that ministers in the community and touches the world with the gospel. The church needs to be evangelistic, but also mission-minded, Bible-teaching and good stewards. There may be a place for a pastor who does one big thing well and all other aspects of the ministry do not interest him, but chances are, your church is not the place for him.
Know whom you are getting. Bring a one-issue pastor to a church needing a jack-of-all-trades and nothing good will come from it.