Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Is Our Obligation to Submit to Our Pastor?

Like so many instances in life, a simple question from a reader has spawned several rabbit trails of thought.

A week ago, a new Q4U asked for your thoughts on pastors or others giving explicit messages from the pulpit with children in the congregation.

Several of you commented, and I saw three common threads. (The comments were terrific, and if you haven’t read them, I strongly suggest it. Also, if you’d like to leave your two cents, please do so either there or on this post.)

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to leave a service with your children when you believe it is necessary to protect the innocence of your child. However, if they do hear something you need to explain later, appreciate that it has been introduced with you present in a church setting and not elsewhere and isolated.
  2. It’s also perfectly acceptable, recommended even, to talk with the pastor, explain your beliefs about keeping your children in church with you, and request that a warning be given when explicit material will be included in the service. You may also want to suggest that special speakers be directed to an adult class.
  3. The Bible is, itself, rather explicit in places. But sermons on those stories / verses can either be done tactfully (using words that the Littles wouldn’t understand or catch on to) or after an appropriate warning.

The commitment to family worship is growing in many parts of The Church. I applaud that. I have heard it said that God created the family before he created the church and that our obligations to our families come before our obligations to church. I agree completely. Does this mean we should hole up in our bunkers, batten down the hatches, and never see daylight again? Absolutely not. Those commitments do not give us permission to avoid involvement in the church!

Now, my rabbit trail. . . . I give my pastor an extra measure of respect. He spent several years at Bible college and is quite a bit more knowledgeable than I am. He has a difficult job, shepherding a flock of people from different backgrounds and with (somewhat) varying doctrine, standards, and lifestyles, and I admire the way he handles his responsibilities cheerfully and enthusiastically.

But do I submit to him or The Church blindly and without question? No. As one commenter said, the pastor is human.

My first submission is to the Lord. My second submission is to my husband. (You could say these two submissions are intertwined, but that’s not really the subject of this post.)

If my husband and I have prayerfully and Biblically come to a decision about any issue and that decision clashes with the teachings or advising of The Church, I obey the Lord.

How’s that for a statement to end the post? Ahh. . . one of the many beauties of a blog is the word limit. J

What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.

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  1. 12 years ago, my husband and I went to another church because we are not allowed to take part in the sacraments. The reason: we'd told that we had difficulty and said there were unbiblical things in what they leaarned the people. The church Supervisory ( right english word) were very angry. They said: yes the Bible says so and so but God's people learns it otherwise than what the Bible says sometimes.

    Its hard. But we must obey our Lord. I brought our children into another church. And in this church came both my husband and two oldest children to faith in Jesus Christ.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and praise God that your family was saved!

  2. There are times when I would clash with my pastor. Never over truly doctrinal issues, just opinions I have and he has. Some might say I'm an opinionated person :) My general rule on those non-essential issues is to defer to my husband. God calls me to submit to him for my protection, and part of that means keeping me and my opinions out of unnecessary trouble.

    Now, if it ever comes to doctrinal issues or church issues then I think our job as church members is to take the issue first to our pastor in love and privacy. If he won't hear, take it to the deacons, and if they don't agree we can submit and remain as active, joyful, and dissenting members of the church OR my husband can decide that moving our family to a new congregation is the best decision.

    Either way, our job as church members is to know our Bible and encourage our Pastor. They are called of God, but they still make mistakes and need to be loving corrected at times. However, if something is a big enough issue for us to openly disagree about it will hopefully be something other church leaders notice and correct before we have to get involved.

    1. Wonderful comment, Katherine, and so well thought out. I love the idea of submission as a protection. It's certainly been that for me many times. And really, none of this matters if we don't know the Bible! So glad you commented today. Thank you!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ashley, for your continual encouragement! :)


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