These Touchy Statements Have Gotten Plenty of Pastors in Trouble

(Unsplash/Seth Macey)

My point in this blog is not to argue the "rightness" or the "wrongness" of these statements. Instead, it's just to show some things I've heard young pastors say that led to difficulties in their ministry. Most of the time, the trouble came not because of the young leader's position, but because he just declared his position without understanding his context and without taking time to teach/explain his position.

  1. "Many members of the church are unregenerate." That conclusion may be true in some cases, but it's seldom wise to verbalize it aloud without explanation. It also often wrongly categorizes some genuine believers who've never been discipled.
  2. "I'm planting a church because I don't want to deal with the traditions of the established church." Not only does that position likely reveal a lack of calling to plant a church, but it also assumes that church plants won't have their own traditions. Even church planting teams bring their own baggage to the table.
  3. "I'm planning to start church discipline within the next month." In a church that had not practiced discipline in decades, this statement came across as quick and alarming. This leader's ministry at this particular church didn't last long.
  4. "My plan is to study in my office one hour for every one minute that I'll be preaching." That's a great goal, but it leaves little time for doing ministry outside the office. This church discovered they didn't have a shepherd who ministered to them.
  5. "I don't tithe." This young pastor could have given his argument that the New Testament doesn't require tithing, but he simply made the statement in a finance committee meeting. That led to trouble.
  6. "We're going to stop giving an invitation because it leads to false conversions." There's no question that we have false conversions in our churches, but some young leaders have thrown out the proverbial baby with the bath water without talking through their reasoning.
  7. "I don't believe in the pastor search team process." I understand concerns about the search team process, but this pastoral candidate shared his apprehension with the search team that was considering him. His doing so didn't help him.
  8. "Strategic planning is man-centered." It can be, but it's not automatically so. Needless to say, this young pastor's church didn't have much intentional direction.

All right, pastors, let's be honest with each other. What did you say as a young pastor that got you into trouble?

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice-president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at

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