In part one of this five-part series I discussed the rise of the nones and the dones. A large percentage of the former group has no experience with the organized church. This is in sharp contrast with the latter group who has years of experience with the organized church but have chosen for various reasons to no longer be a part of it.
A major factor that keeps both the nones and dones disinterested in the church is the inability or outright refusal of God’s shepherds to preach the Word of God without compromise. Unfortunately this is nothing new and certainly is not unexpected from a biblical perspective.
What Does The Bible Say?
God states plainly through the prophet Amos for example that “days are coming . . . when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).
Through the prophet Jeremiah God identified why this latter-day famine would be so widespread: “Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, They have trampled down My field; They have made My pleasant field A desolate wilderness” (Jeremiah 12:10).
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! Declares the Lord.” Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1-2).
“My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill And have forgotten their resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6).
Through the prophet Ezekiel God spoke these words: “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock;” (Ezekiel 34:8).
And then this: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them”’” (Ezekiel 34:10)
What Is The Problem Today?
I am willing to admit that some shepherds today simply do not know how to preach and teach the Bible. Fifty plus years of inadequate and intentionally misguided seminary training has yielded a generation of shepherds ill-prepared to be the leaders of God’s people that they must be for the times we live in.
However, there are a growing number of shepherds who simply choose not to teach God’s Word. They have chosen to be CEO’s instead of foot washers, Public Relations managers instead of holy writ counselors, managers of staffs instead of friends to people in their fellowships.
To these God spoke as well: “Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen’ (Jeremiah 6:16-17).
Time To Refocus
What all of these passages and many more speak of friends, is the absolute necessity of God’s shepherds knowing God’s Word, being able to counsel using God’s Word, and basing church life and practice on God’s Word.
God has always set a clear path for His shepherds to lead His people upon. Today, many shepherds have chosen a path that appeals more to the flesh than to the spirit. When God’s people are fed God’s Word they will flourish. Perhaps the issue for modern-day shepherds is a lack of faith and trust in the power of God’s Word.
Friends, don’t mistake goat food for sheep food. Large crowds and large church campuses do not identify healthy ministries. Faithfulness to God and His revealed Word are the marks of a faithful shepherd and church. It is true today more than ever, as the shepherd goes, so goes the sheep.
Stay tuned for part three of this five-part series on “Pastor You Must Be A Theologian.”