It’s Not Wrong To Question Your Pastor

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11 )

Why were the Bereans more noble than those in Thessalonica? 2 reasons: 1) They received the word with all eagerness. 2) They went back home and examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas preached lined up with the word of God.

We should always receive God’s word preached to us with all eagerness. We shouldn’t sit there, arms crossed with an “I dare you to try to teach me something” attitude. At the same time that doesn’t mean we must accept everything a pastor says without question. We can be both eager to hear God’s word preached, yet at the same time be discerning.

It’s not wrong see if what a pastor preaches lines up with the Bible. A pulpit doesn’t make you infallible.

Some pastors give the impression that to question them is insubordination. Pastors aren?t a different breed of Christians, but sinners just like the people they preach to. I always try to discourage people from calling me “Pastor Mark” or “Reverend” (though I will accept “Your Highness” from my wife). I tell them “pastor” is just my job description. I say if you’re going to call me Pastor Mark, then I’m going to call you Carpenter Bob.

Years ago a local church brought a “prophet” in for several weeks of meetings. Because some our members attended the meetings I went to a couple. One night this man “prophesied” to a young lady, “You are a key, and this town will sin no more.” The whole place erupted with applause and cheers. Except for me and the pastor with me. I thought “Well, one thing’s certain I’m in this town and I’m going to sin.”

This “prophet” said many other crazy things, like “Don’t let your doctrine get in the way of the Holy Spirit.” What? The Holy Spirit is the author of doctrine! His listeners were eager to hear the word preached, but most didn’t go home and examine the Scriptures to see if what he said was so.

We can question pastors’ actions too.

There are qualifications for pastors in Scripture. They must lead their families, be husbands of one wife, be above reproach and have good reputations. This means we can examine their lives. But even the best pastors sin, drop the ball, make mistakes, and make poor decisions at times. No pastor should ever say, “Who are you to question me?”

I’m thankful for the folks in our church who’ve come to us with questions or disagreements. Sometimes they’ve been nervous (how could anybody be nervous about coming to me? This is me – Mark – gentle, approachable, laid back Mark. I always calm down after screaming for 10 minutes – JUST KIDDING!)

Pastors should be glad when people come with questions, thoughts or observations even if they have a poor attitude. Even when someone expresses themselves in anger there’s probably something the pastor really needs to consider. There may be truth in what they’re saying even if it comes with extra baggage. We shouldn’t reject questions or criticism because someone doesn’t express themselves perfectly.

Help your pastor. Help him preach more accurately. Help him see how to lead and care for people better. Encourage him. And if you have questions, feel free to ask.

photo by Enderst07

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

2 comments

  • I was going to small, local church. Started with only once a week Recovery Bible Study, then added a Regular B.S., then started attending & tithing on Sunday mornings – because Pastor kept emphasizing it [felt pressured], but I was open to suggestion & thought he might be right & I might be wrong. {never been a fan of organized religion}. I had a current episode of depression/anxiety & didn’t attend Church or Regular BS, but went to only Recovery BS. At 1 Recovery I explained my current state & asked to be temporarily excused – that I’d come when I was able. When I requested a private talk with Pastor three times [not for mental health issues but spiritual ones] I was told [in a round about way] that ONY IF I attend church will I obtain counsel. I wrote him an email. He called & said he doesn’t use that email address any longer.
    It is the only email address on church’s website. IF I were a stranger off the street, I think I would have been offered counsel. He has spent private time with others before. I am confused & hurt. Aren’t pastors suppose to be shepherds? PLZ Advise.

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