Little boys grow up playing baseball with the big dream of making it to the professional league some day. A very small percentage of boys actually see that dream realized. However, upon arriving at their first big league ball practice—they suddenly discover that they still have coaches. In fact, they have more coaches as a professional than they did when they were playing at lower levels. They still are required to practice the fundamentals of the game. In short, professional baseball players never reach a place where they arrive at full development, knowledge, and wisdom so that they do not require a coaching staff.
The best athletes are those who always keep a teachable spirit and are willing to make necessary adjustments as they continue to develop even as a professional player. One of the most discouraging things to watch is someone who has a massive amount of talent, but they suffer from the “know it all” syndrome which plagues them and consistently holds them back.
Within the church, we must approach discipleship with a teachable spirit. First of all, the members of the church are placed under the leadership of pastors for the purpose of spiritual development. In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus (and the surrounding cities):
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph. 4:11-14).
Notice the language of equipping, building up, unity of the faith, attaining knowledge, and mature manhood. This is the process of discipleship. As a disciple (which means learner) develops, he or she is able to avoid the traps of the wicked one which may include temptations to sin or temptations to embrace false teaching. If a Christian ever arrives at a place where he or she believes that the church is not necessary or that they’ve arrived at a level of knowledge that’s superior so they don’t need the teaching ministry of local church pastors—they’ve arrived in a very dangerous place. The “know it all” syndrome plagues and hinders Christians too—not just budding baseball players.
Another thing to remember about discipleship is that teachers need to be discipled too. One of the great joys of my life has been to see our church embrace an eldership that involves the preaching of fellow pastors on Sunday evenings that allows me to sit under the preaching of the Word on a regular basis. It’s important for me to learn too. God’s blueprint for the local church is critically important and a plurality of elders who oversee the church is vitally important for the development of a pastor’s spiritual growth. A “know it all” pastor is dangerous! Remember what Paul said to the Ephesian elders when he called them to himself before his departure:
You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house (Acts 20:18–20).
In Psalm 119, the psalmist makes a statement that’s really a picture of discipleship 101. He writes the following in Psalm 119:12-13:
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
Notice how the psalmist prays to the LORD to teach him his statutes. In return, the psalmist commits to teaching the rules of God. If you know much about Psalm 119, all of the synonyms such as rules, statutes, testimonies, and commands are pointing to the sufficiency of God’s Word. Interestingly enough, long before Acts 1:8 or Matthew 28:18-20 was uttered and eventually penned down—we find a simple blueprint for discipleship. We are to be consistently learning God’s Word in order that we can teach others. Discipleship involves making disciples who go and make disciples who make disciples.
Are you a know it all? Do you suffer from a lack of teachability? Don’t hinder your growth and your ability to make disciples for the glory of God.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my ninth anniversary as pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church. I am not “the” pastor, but one of several pastors who love and serve this local church. My title is “senior” pastor, but I’m not the senior among our elders who lead—but given the position of lead pastor within our church.
As I’ve reflected recently on these nine years, I wanted to share nine lessons that I’ve learned, lived, and believe others should think through related to their local church as well.
1. Serving your home church brings both unique blessings and unique challenges.
When my wife and I moved to Louisville to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, we never expected in a million years to return home to serve our home church. That was nowhere on our radar.
I’m often told that my story is unique. While it’s certainly unique, it has brought some of the most unique blessings that I couldn’t have dreamed up myself. I enjoy the blessings of serving as pastor in my hometown and being very near my family. Not only does my family live here, but so does my wife’s family as well. We both grew up here in the context of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church as children. It’s pure joy to see my children enjoying their grandparents on a weekly and often—daily basis.
With the blessings come unique challenges. Pastoring people is not always easy. It’s one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life to serve the people who served me as a boy, but it’s also a unique challenge to stand in the pulpit week-by-week and refuse to compromise the truth of the Word even if that means it will confront close friends, close family members, and those that have been members of our church long before I was born. Yet, that’s the calling of a pastor—to preach the Word.
My job as a pastor is to prepare people to meet God. It has been both a joy and great sorrow to shepherd members all the way to death’s door—some of whom have served me and my wife when we were little children growing up in our church. I’ve preached nearly 40 funerals in these nine years of people that I’ve viewed as my family members. Sure, we often call our church our “family of faith” but I’ve experienced great sorrow in burying dear loved ones during these years that I trust will be turned to joy on the day of Christ’s return!
2. Patience in ministry is essential.
The work of pastoral ministry itself requires patience. Moving too quickly, even if it’s in the right direction for the good of the church, can cause people to lose trust in their leaders.
Sometimes we as pastors preach grand truths from the text of Scripture and just expect people to automatically grasp the truths in one sermon that have taken us years to work through leading up to that one sermon. Patience with people is key—and it’s part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). Sometimes slower is better—that goes for leading people in practical decisions as well as preaching through books of the Bible.
3. Servant leadership is crucial.
When it comes to the offices of the church—there are two (elder and deacon). The office of elder (often called pastor) is for leading the church and providing necessary oversight. The office of deacon is for serving the church and providing necessary practical care. While elders are not deacons, it’s essential for the pastors to work at servant leadership. This is a lesson that I’ve learned through the years and one that I believe helps place us in the most Christ-like position among God’s people—that of a servant leader (Mark 10:45). We must not forget what Jesus said to James and John when they asked him a question in Mark 10:35.
4. Transparency in leadership is the best way to lead.
When I came to serve as pastor of Pray’s Mill, the church had been through a rough patch. The people had experienced troubles among leadership and this had caused many in the church to lose confidence and in some cases—have a negative view of pastoral leadership altogether.
One thing I promised upon entering the church as pastor was to lead with transparency. When we have our member meetings (church conference), I lead the other pastors in sharing ministry ideas, upcoming plans, and as we look over the numbers and business of the church as a gathered assembly. We also allow for questions to be raised from the floor and we seek to provide clarity when necessary on the rationale for our decisions as leaders. I believe that leading with transparency is important and it allows the people to watch you lead, explain your decisions, and carefully guide the church in a specific direction.
5. Shared leadership is a blessing from God.
When I first arrived as pastor, I was the senior pastor and really viewed as the pastor of the church who led a staff of supporters. It was my goal to lead the church to embrace the biblical position of a plurality of elders and to experience the joy of having a team of pastors caring for, overseeing, and leading in the spiritual growth of the entire church.
I led the church patiently in that direction by pointing it out in the text of Scripture as we arrived at such passages when I initially preached through Acts. It would be about year four that I officially began the process of teaching on the subject and another year before we would change our by-laws to reflect the biblical position. We then waited a full year before we ordained our first elders in the church to serve alongside me.
Today, our elders are regularly preaching in the context of the church when I travel and we share in a rotation on Sunday evenings. It’s a joy to see these men serve the church and it’s also a joy to have them sit across the table from me and serve as my pastors as well. Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest joys and blessings I’ve experienced in my entire pastoral ministry.
6. Pastoring is different than preaching.
The church needs pastors who preach the Word and pastor the people. There are many men who enjoy preaching, but they rarely engage in the work of shepherding. In order to fulfill the office of pastor, there is more work to be done than merely preaching a couple of times per week. While that requires a massive amount of time to research, study, prepare, and then to actually deliver the sermons—the people need to be cared for by their pastors. That involves loving correction, discipline, confrontation, edification, encouragement, restoration, and weekly discipleship. All of this takes time.
Preaching sermons that are generic and almost have a “big box” feel to them is not what the church needs. They need men who are watching for their souls and preaching to the church that’s actually in the room. That will involve touching on specific sins among the church body and providing the necessary application that’s needed to guide the church to biblical correction. Far too often, congregations enjoy hearing sermons that point out sins of the church in another state or across town—but the church needs pastors who care enough for their souls to talk to the people who are actually in the room.
7. Church discipline is biblical, commanded, and is blessed by the Lord.
During these nine years of pastoral ministry, we have engaged in the work of regular church discipline. One thing I added to our quarterly church conferences (member meetings) was the final line item on the agenda which simply reads, church discipline. I wanted the people to see it frequently and think about the fact that there will be necessary times in the life of our church where we engage in loving and biblical church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20).
We have not only engaged in the process during these years, but we’ve also witnessed it work for the purpose of restoration. Unfortunately, in our last conference, we had to present a member before the church who is a husband and father in the life of our church. The church is reaching out to him actively at this time, and if he refuses to repent, we will be forced to excommunicate him. This is hard work, but it’s also a blessing to be a member of a local church that engages in the hard work for the glory of God.
8. People that you trust will hurt you.
A lesson that I’ve learned in pastoral ministry in more times than one is that people who you trust can often be those who can hurt you the most. Every pastor learns this lesson over time, but when you serve the church where you grew up as a boy—such wounds can have an extra sting. Such has been the case through these nine years. While I’m happy to report that those cases have been very limited in number, nevertheless they have occurred.
One thing a pastor must preach is that church membership is God’s will for the people of God. Such membership necessitates a certain amount of vulnerability and openness, but when you’re betrayed, hurt, or when your leadership is rejected (as Paul promised would happen with Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5), it causes a pastor to pull back and be less vulnerable within the church he leads. That’s precisely what our enemy would want to happen and pastors must practice what we preach! We need the church too.
9. Often God has plans that are not on your radar screen.
As a pastor, I see leadership as having various different responsibilities. There is a spiritual oversight and leadership responsibility that is most important. There is also a visionary leadership responsibility where we as pastors look into the future and try to plan, dream, and set goals while leading the church to navigate a path that will allow the church to achieve such goals. In these nine years as pastor of Pray’s Mill, I’ve watched the Lord lead me in ways that I was not planning and it has been a tremendous joy.
When I was dreaming and planning the first annual G3 Conference, my goal was to see our church minister to other pastors, church leaders, and church members from churches in our area (Atlanta and greater Georgia or west Georgia region). The Lord had other plans. I was estimating that 250 people would show up and when the first annual conference had over 700 people in attendance, I was blown away. That pattern continued for the first four years before we moved to the Georgia International Convention Center adjacent to the Atlanta airport. In 2017 the conference grew to 2,500. It continues to grow each year. This past January we exceeded 4,500 in attendance.
As I look back on the way the Lord has grown a conference ministry from our local church to what it is today and when I consider the way it ministers to thousands of people throughout the United States and beyond—I’m amazed. It was not my dream. It was not my plan. Often the Lord has other plans and we must be prepared to follow him and lead as he directs.
My story is unique, at least that’s what I’m often told. I pastor the church where I grew up as a boy and where my wife grew up as a little girl. We have only been members of three local churches, and I’ve served as the pastor of all three—the last of the three being the very church where we grew up as children.
While I recognize the fact that my story is a bit unique, I often ask, should it be unique? Could it be that local churches should look at the little boys in the church and think about the fact that God may very well be preparing one of them to lead the church in the days to come? In fact, it could be the one that most people believe is the least likely candidate.
These last nine years have been a true blessing from the Lord and I look forward to what the Lord will do in the life of our church in the days to come.
“We must be willing to do whatever it takes the reach the next generation.”
This sounds like a line that many Christians can embrace, and sadly, many Christians charge hard with this line as their motto for ministry. Unfortunately, even the most passionate Christian can be passionately wrong. While boundaries and prohibitions may seem like bad things that hold us back from reaching our full potential as a local church or an individual believer—God’s boundaries should never be viewed through a negative lens.
Every Christian motto is built upon a theological foundation. It’s either fueled by low theological conviction that takes a backseat to pragmatism or it’s fueled by a high theological conviction that drives decision making and functionality. We want the latter rather than the former. When pragmatism takes priority over theology, the church is driven to do all sorts of things in the name of reaching people for Jesus in ways that Jesus would never approve.
Pragmatism Leads to Worldly Worship Models
An honest survey of church history will demonstrate that the church has been driven to embrace models that do not look like what God had in mind for genuine God exalting worship. From seeker sensitive marketing evangelism models to the Emergent Church that attempts to become so relevant to culture that it becomes irrelevant. If your model for ministry is “whatever it takes” people will begin to dream up and imagine all sorts of tactics for weekly worship that will attract the culture to your church. But, is that what Jesus has called us to do when he said, “go and make disciples” when he issued the Great Commission?
We have all seen the YouTube videos of zip line mishaps, motorcycle accidents, and drone crashes inside church buildings that occurred while churches were seeking to attract people from their community. It seemed like something that would draw in the crowds and make the church seem relevant and exciting, but instead it became an instant video clip for people to laugh at online rather than to connect people to the Savior of sinners. When ministries abandon the Scriptures and point people to cheap attractions rather than to Jesus—their ministries become shallow and look more like a carnival than a church in the process.
Is the Bible sufficient or must we dream up something new in order to reach the next generation? Does your church need a marketing trick to reach the community or is Jesus enough?
Pragmatism Leads to the Embrace of Worldly Ideologies and Methods
There is no doubt that this world with devils filled is threatening to undo us. We live in a broken world with complex layers of injustices and oppression against women, crimes against children, legalized abortion, legalized same-sex marriage, and ethnic division and discrimination. We walk a broken road through Vanity Fair as we journey toward the Celestial City as depicted by John Bunyan in his classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress. As we walk this path filled with traps of Satan and all manner of human depravity—how should the church approach the sins and depraved patterns of our ungodly society?
If the church is fueled by the motto “whatever it takes” we will be led to believe that broken ideas that emerge from a broken culture will suffice. In recent days, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to embrace Critical Race Theory and intersectionality as “analytical tools” to view and approach our culture. Why should the church be encouraged to abandon Scripture and embrace ideologies that have emerged out of the sewer of radical feminism and Marxism in order to reach a God hating culture? Is the Bible really outdated and uniformed regarding the complexities we face in our day? Is Jesus not enough? Does the gospel need help from culture to reach the culture?
Pragmatism will always lead the people of God away from the will of God at some point. If the gospel is working—pragmatism says, “do it.” When the gospel seems to not be working, pragmatism says, “do something else that gets better results.”
We must remember that the Reformation was about the recovery of God’s Word. When the Scriptures are not viewed as sufficient—worship and ministry models will be contaminated by the ideas and methods of the world. When Paul was writing his final letter to Timothy before he was martyred for his faith, he didn’t say, “Timothy, do whatever it takes to reach Ephesus with the gospel.” He said:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:2-5).
The motto—”whatever it takes” will eventually lead you to walk away from the Word of God. Beware of the broken road of pragmatism.
A question was submitted for the 2019 G3 Conference questions & answers session that asked the following question:
“I’m a young man who is preparing for pastoral ministry in the local church. As a seminary student, what counsel would you give to me as I prepare for the future?”
In the fall of the year just before we would move to Louisville to attend seminary the following January, my wife and I made an agreement that we would not purchase Christmas presents for each other and we would save money for the upcoming move. Without my knowledge, she wrote to several preachers asking for them to write a letter to me in order to provide wisdom for me as I prepared to move away to attend seminary. She compiled each of those letters in a nice binder and provided it to me as a gift that Christmas. I still look through it to this very day as it sits on the shelf in my study. One letter stands out to me as it states the following:
My word to you is to always remember that you are merely a vessel and He is the Treasure. Just a river bed for the river to flow. Any demands God makes on you is not on your ability but on the Christ who promised to be your sufficiency for the journey. Remember that any old bush will do if God set it on fire for His glory. May the Holy Spirit give you enough problems to keep you trusting, enough hurts to keep you broken, and enough victories to keep you praising Him. Only God can take nothing and indwell him so he can be more than a conqueror.
What great truth that I’m still thankful that I received early in the journey of ministry rather than after hitting difficulties along the way. What I would hope to do in this article is to provide encouragement and advice to a younger man who may be preparing for ministry and unaware of the fact that hardships are coming very soon. If you have a romantic view of ministry, you need to buckle your seatbelt.
I remember studying specific academic disciplines in high school and college while thinking to myself that I would never need it or use it in this life. That is not true when it comes to seminary. Study hard and read as much as you can knowing that you will need far more in ministry than you have time to learn in seminary.
Study the Bible. The calling of a pastor is to study, prepare, and preach the Word of God on a weekly basis. The original languages matter, and it’s critical to gain as much knowledge and ability as possible in order to rightly divide the Word of truth. In your rigorous study and technical development, don’t fail to read devotionally and spend time memorizing the Word for greater recall as you preach and teach through books of the Bible.
Read biographies. Learn to stand upon the shoulders of men who have gone before you in the gospel ministry. Read about their joys and the intense pain they experienced in ministry. Learn from their strengths and weaknesses in order to become a better minister of the gospel.
The ministry is not the place for laziness. There is hardly anything more shameful than a lazy preacher. Learn good work ethic. Set good patterns for your time in the text, your extra reading, your ministry planning, your staff meetings, and your care for God’s flock. If possible, learn to get out of bed early and give your mornings to God and your afternoons to men.
We expect doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and carpenters to get out of bed and work hard all day. Why should preachers sleep longer, work less, come home earlier, and go to bed less fatigued? Most preachers who are worth their weight in salt work long hours while trying to balance properly their responsibilities to the Lord in the church and their responsibilities to the Lord in their home. Why not serve God with as much energy and passion for the glory of God as do others who are laboring in the world of business or in the building of houses? Give yourself fully to God!
Never Give Up
My wife and I were on our honeymoon and we were finishing up a wonderful day with a sunset supper at a magical restaurant on the island of Aruba. Our table was in the edge of the water, our shoes were off, our feet was experiencing the gentle wake of the ocean as the sun was setting over the water. Life was perfect at that moment. Another couple nearby asked us a few questions when they found out we were on our honeymoon, and then they asked, “So, what do you do for a living?” I explained that I work for a printing company in Atlanta, but I’m preparing to be a pastor, and soon I will be going off to seminary for training. The gentleman responded, “Yes, it seems that the ministry is a popular career choice these days.”
Soon enough the honeymoon was over, and soon enough we were serving in ministry. Life did not remain perfect and ministry will test you beyond your wildest imaginations. You will begin the day preparing to read yourself full in preparation for Sunday’s sermon only to find yourself praying a man into eternity at his bedside at the local hospital before supper. You will pray earnestly for people only to find that they will earnestly slander you and degrade you. You will enter the pulpit ministry with the idea that so long as you study hard and prepare to feed the sheep each week faithfully from God’s Word that they will be satisfied—only to learn that they aren’t satisfied due to their selfish cravings. You’ll learn that people will disappoint you, betray you, make false accusations against you, and finally leave you all alone. Ministry is not for sissies.
In the ministry you will experience your greatest joys and your deepest pains. Some days you will think you’re smelling the fragrance of heaven only to wake up the following day to the smoke of hell. Ministry is hard, people are difficult, the trials are great, the disappointments are severe, the wounds are deep, they joy is sweet, the victories are exciting, the true friends you make are committed and faithful to the end, and the calling to serve God as a pastor is the greatest privilege of ten million lifetimes. Never forget that the ministry is not for sissies. The calling to be a pastor is the calling to be a man who trusts the Lord and stands firm on God’s Word. Sometimes you will be praised for standing on the Word and in other occasions you will be fired for it or even killed for it. If you have a romantic view of ministry, read 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
If you’re preparing for ministry, never forget that you need the help of God each day. If you’re a church member who’s reading this article, remember to pray earnestly for your pastors who labor to serve you through God’s Word each week.
An older wise pastor once told me, “As a pastor, you must have a tough hide and a tender heart.”
Life is full of goals. We spend time charting and planning everything from automobile maintenance schedules to college tuition funds. Add that to our health goals after our recent trip to the doctor, along with our future retirement goals, and it seems that we have goals for almost everything in life. What about spiritual goals? Have you set goals regarding spiritual maturity? Have you thought about ways to accurately chart your progress? Have you considered the fact that your pastors have set goals for your spiritual life?
Spiritual Maturity Results in Gospel Ministry
The role and responsibility of pastors is to equip the church membership to do the work of gospel ministry. It’s a categorical error to look at the pastors as the “professionals” who earn a paycheck to do the work of ministry. Would it be a shock for you to know that God views all church members as ministers of the gospel? According to Ephesians 4:12, God has gifted the church with pastor-teachers for the purpose of equipping the church to do the work of ministry.
The ministry of the local church can be divided into two primary areas — discipleship and missions. Although there are specific overlaps, this is the work of the local church. In going and telling the gospel, we baptize and teach believers the Word of God. It is the plan of God for His children to grow-up and pursue spiritual maturity. We must read warnings in Hebrews 5:13-14 and make sure that we avoid such errors. Are you just a “come and watch” church member or do you have your hands and your heart involved in the work of gospel ministry to make disciples for the glory of God?
Spiritual Maturity Prevents Doctrinal Drift
As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, we grow doctrinal roots that are not easily moved. We’ve all seen the aftermath of a violent storm or high winds that uprooted trees. That same thing can be true when false doctrine sweeps through a home, a church, or across the Internet. God expects His children to grow into mature believers who are not led astray by false teachers who speak with deceptive tongues delivering damnable heresies. Paul explains one of the purposes of pastoral leadership in Ephesians 4:13-14:
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I have watched people be swept away by the winds of Roman Catholicism, prosperity teachings, and other cult groups who present crafty teachings through the television and Internet. Those who are pursuing spiritual maturity avoid these problems because they can spot the false doctrine like a red barn in the middle of an open green field. The spiritually immature believer often doesn’t possess such discernment. Don Whitney writes, “In my own pastoral and personal Christian experience, I can say that I’ve never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. Godliness comes through discipline.”  Like a deep root system on a majestic tree, spiritual maturity does the same thing for believers who put in the discipline to know God through His Word.
Spiritual Maturity Results in Biblical Submission
We’re born with the seed of rebellion in our depraved hearts, and then if you’re fortunate to be born in a nation like America where such rugged individualism is celebrated — submission is a backward way of thinking. After becoming a Christian, we learn that submission is the way of the Christian life. We’re called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ. This new life in Christ involves submission to authority. We’re called to submit to authority, and it all begins with a submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Biblical submission involves a willingness to submit to authorities in various roles of life including:
- Submission to the Lordship of Christ (we are the servants of Christ).
- Submission to the Word of God (the Scriptures are authoritative and sufficient).
- Submission to civil leaders and the laws of the land.
- Submission to family roles (wives to husbands and children to parents).
- Submission to those in authority over us in the work world.
- Submission to the church family (the church caring for one another in love).
- Submission to the pastoral leaders placed over you.
We are wired to resist and avoid authority. However, when God changes a person’s heart, that individual learns to lovingly submit to the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). The individual who possesses a rogue and rebellious attitude toward authority should evaluate themselves closely. To the young believer, pursue spiritual maturity in order that you will become strong in the faith and never forget that a heart that’s willing to submit to authority is not weak. R. C. Sproul has accurately stated, “The very word authority has within it the word author. An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.” 
What books are you reading? What sermons are you listening to? Do you have a plan for Scripture reading? How is your church attendance? Are you engaged in intentional discipleship opportunities within your church? When was the last time you talked with your pastor about ways you could grow spiritually? Perhaps it’s time to set some real goals for spiritual maturity in your life. Setting a goal to run a 5k or a marathon is commendable, but to set a goal for spiritual maturity is far better.
- Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), 17.
- R. C. Sproul, “The Divine Foundation of Authority,” Tabletalk, (March, 2009), 6.
Beth Moore is an extremely popular Bible teacher, author, and founder of Living Proof Ministries, Inc. which began in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women through Bible studies and resources. Many thousands of women (and men) study the Bible in groups who use resources from LPM and watch videos of Beth Moore’s teaching. With wide success in the publishing world, she is a frequent keynote speaker at large conferences including Passion. As a former member of the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas (now a member of Bayou City Fellowship), Beth Moore has been a Southern Baptist for years and finds great success in publishing her material through B&H Publishing Group and distributing it through LifeWay – a popular bookstore closely associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
For many years, Beth Moore’s teaching has raised eyebrows among pastors and leaders in conservative circles. Although concerns have been raised through the years, Beth Moore continues to be welcomed into the study groups within local churches where women read her books, study guides, and watch her videos with limited, if any, oversight from the pastoral staff. Below I’ve documented three main reasons why pastors should fire Beth Moore from the women’s ministry within their local church.
Beth Moore Clearly Violates Biblical Boundaries
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:12). Paul forbids women from teaching and having authority over men. Therefore, the pattern of the early church was established by Christ who chose twelve men to be His inner circle and then entrusted the early church to their oversight. From that point forward (post Acts 6), God raised up a plurality of men to serve as deacons who would serve alongside the plurality of men who would serve as elders.
In short, we don’t see God calling, equipping, and endorsing women to teach the Bible in the context of the church (or beyond in places such as conferences). This position rooted in creation and upheld by a distinctive position known as complementarianism is not only consistent with Scripture, but in tandem with the early church’s design. Beth Moore violates this early church pattern and most importantly – the text of Scripture found in 1 Timothy 2:12. As she appears on the platform with an open Bible, she preaches the Word to thousands of men who are in attendance at the Passion conference and other venues where she’s invited to speak. Not only is this her personal pattern of ministry, but she likewise condones other women who preach to men as she was in attendance at Joel Osteen’s church to hear her friend Christine Caine when she preached at Lakewood.
The point of the Bible is clear, women are not permitted to have authority over men, and how is it possible to teach the Bible without authority? Paul forbids women from occupying the office of elder, but it must likewise be noted that he forbids women from the functionality of preaching and teaching the Bible to men – even if they don’t hold the office of elder (1 Tim. 2:12). Beth Moore has demonstrated a heart of rebellion in this important area where she has violated God’s original intent in women’s role in the church, and therefore, should not be accepted into the church as an acceptable women’s ministry (or any Bible teaching ministry). The pattern of ministry Beth Moore has developed will continue to manifest itself in local churches so long as local churches continue to incorporate her resources in their ministries.
Beth Moore Employs Faulty Biblical Hermeneutics
The fancy word hermeneutics, is a reference to the science of biblical interpretation. Anyone who teaches the Bible understands that you don’t merely approach the Bible with a flippant and disorganized manner and expect organized presentation and application. Beth Moore does not approach the Bible with a disorganized methodology, but she does approach the Bible with a deficient hermeneutic – one that should be rejected.
The most appropriate method of biblical interpretation is known as the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation. This method seeks to uncover the original author’s intent from a literal and historical lens. This method upholds the single meaning of the text of Scripture and does so with a careful analysis upon the terms and grammar used in the text.
Beth Moore, often very animated and passionate in her delivery of her Bible teaching employs a method of biblical interpretation known as allegorical interpretation. This is a method of spiritualizing the text and making it say something other than what the original author intended. If you’ve ever heard a sermon preached from the text of David and Goliath where the preacher pointed out that David is Jesus and Goliath is Satan – you’ve heard allegorical interpretation in action. This is perhaps the main interpretative method used by Beth Moore.
Beth Moore goes beyond allegorical interpretation at times as she approaches the Bible through a mystical method of Bible reading known as Lectio Divina. This is an old heretical form of biblical interpretation taken from Roman Catholic mystics and often closely connected to contemplative prayer. This practice is often viewed as a spiritual method of approaching the Bible that involves emptying your brain and preparing to hear God speak. David Helm, in his book, Expositional Preaching, writes:
Lectio Divina advocates a method that is spiritual as opposed to systematically studious. It substitutes intuition for investigation. It prefers mood and emotion to methodical and reasoned inquiry. It equates your spirit to the Holy Spirit.” 
Although once a Roman Catholic method of reading and interpreting the Bible, Lectio Divina is now becoming popular in the mainstream evangelical community. This method sidesteps the careful and historical method of biblical interpretation as it encourages people to open their minds and listen for the voice of God. We should not be teaching people to empty their minds or open their minds while they listen for the voice of God. God has spoken clearly and we can see what God has said as we read the Bible.
Beth Moore Is an Ecumenical Charismatic
In recent years, Beth Moore has been beating the drum of ecumenism with fervor. In many recordings of her teachings, you can hear her categorize many liberal and conservative denominations along with Roman Catholics into the same group as if there are no distinctions or divisions. If this isn’t enough to cause great concern, in more recent days Beth Moore has been crossing over the line into the troubled waters of the charismatic circles and aligning herself with people such as Joyce Meyer.
It’s one thing to refer to Joyce Meyer as a mentor and to embrace Roman Catholics as another denomination within evangelicalism, but why should Beth Moore be classified as a charismatic? Beyond the obvious connection that Beth Moore has with Joyce Meyer, she also leads conferences with other charismatics and engages in teaching strange doctrines. Beth Moore participated in a Women of Faith conference held at Lakewood Church in Houston (see Roma Downey promote it on YouTube) where she taught sloppy allegorical lessons and engaged in a strange “commissioning” event at the close of the conference.
- Beth Moore frequently hears the voice of God and receives visions.
- Beth Moore aligns herself with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.
- Beth Moore engages in contemplative spirituality.
- Beth Moore is using charismatic language such as in a recent tweet about “binding prayers.”
- Beth Moore advocates receiving direct messages from God.
Beth Moore relates the story of a woman who approached her during a conference with a message from God:
With obvious anointing, she told the story we’re about to study, then she said: “I don’t know you Beth. I have no idea why God sent me with such a message to give you, but He told me clearly to say these words to you: ‘Tell her that her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.’” 
Notice that Beth Moore claimed the woman had an “obvious anointing” from God. To attach God’s name to a special message that doesn’t originate between Genesis and Revelation is to open yourself up to extrabiblical revelation and to deny the sufficiency of Scripture.
Discernment is needed today in the church like never before. It should also be noted that God has called pastors to exercise oversight over women’s ministries within the church. To allow women to go through church sponsored Beth Moore studies and gather for simulcast studies is to open the doors of the church to unbiblical and dangerous teaching. Pastors, guard the doors and educate the people to exercise biblical discernment.
- David Helm, Expositional Preaching, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014), Kindle Edition, 355 of 1576.
- Beth Moore, Jesus the One and Only, (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 91.