I am both intrigued and disappointed when I hear of pastors who signal that they are not really interested in a biblical emphasis for their congregation, as they reject certain applicants due to their being tainted by some affiliation with a direction that they think is a distraction from their cultural bias.
Of course some of these pastors are not aware of their bias, while others are aware of the bias but feel justified in it, either through biblical or cultural ignorance.
I am sure some of these pastors would be insulted to think that I am accusing them of biblical ignorance, or of an unbiblical bias, as some of them see themselves as stalwart defenders of the Reformed faith.
Here is my proposition; one is not a stalwart defender of the Reformed faith unless he is committed to the principle that our only rule of faith and practice is the Word of God. I would add that he not only be intellectually committed but that it be his actual practice in the decisions he makes in worship, ministry practices, staff, and outreach targeting.
What am I talking about? Recently someone I know was interviewed for a position on a pastoral staff. The host pastor saw some affiliation with my church and extended network of churches, known as New City. The host pastor let it be known that “racial reconciliation” was not an emphasis that they would appreciate if the person was hired.
Now the host pastor might have some jaundiced opinion of what he thinks racial reconciliation might be. Maybe he has felt run over by some prophetic voice making him feel guilty. Maybe he felt that such an emphasis would ruffle the feathers of his leadership and is fearful about maintaining unity in the congregation. Maybe he thinks such reconciliation talk is an “add on” to the Gospel and does not arise from it. I don’t know.
Surely he must know reconciliation happened at the cross at the same exact time as justification? Maybe he hasn’t read Ephesians yet.
I of course would discourage any pastor taking any kind of job at a church that was opposed to preaching the whole counsel of God, or opposed to a missional view of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or of applying the application of the Gospel to our lives such as loving our neighbors as ourselves.
In short, if a Senior Pastor doesn’t want you preaching all of the Word, but only selected portions of it to fit his cultural bias, don’t go there. If a Senior Pastor or Session says they don’t want you preaching the Gospel to the poor, or bringing the poor into the church, don’t go there. If a Senior Pastor says he doesn’t want you bringing folks of other ethnic groups into the church, and if you do definitely don’t cater to “their core cultural needs” (as per Carl Ellis), or speak to any injustices done to them, don’t go there.
Only go to places where the fresh air of the Word of God, the Gospel of Grace, the intensity and joy of salvation are preached and experienced, and where justice and love are valued and sought, or at the very least where the leadership is saying, “please bring us revival, please bring us life, and don’t hold back on the truths of Scripture.” Otherwise let that church die, let Jesus take its lampstand, until they repent and they be able to wisely use your gifts.