During that time something happened that still concerns me. People would say things about my sermons that gave me an uneasy feeling. I'd hear things like, "You brought a great message today," "God really spoke through you today," and "We're praying for you as you bring us the word this morning."
The problem is the view that the pastor in some way speaks to the people for God. The idea is that when the pastor talks from the pulpit he is delivering a message in a way that the other people cannot. It elevates the sermon to the point that it is viewed as a special message from God. This idea places the pastor in an elevated position above the people. Only he has the capacity to give them a message from God. The people in the pews do not believe they can do the same thing.
This is dangerous!
It tramples over the priesthood of all believers. It denies that we are equal before Christ. It elevates certain people as more important than others within the body of Christ.
During my time as an institutional church pastor I got to know/meet a good number of other pastors. I do not believe the vast majority of them think of themselves as more important than others in the church. Although they preach sermons, most pastors don't believe they have a special line of communication with God. They don't view their messages as prophetic in nature (some probably do, but most do not).
Where, then, does this idea come from? Why do so many Christians think that the sermon is somehow a special message from God that is unique? Why do so many believers not think that they can speak and/or teach in the same way as the pastor can?
I believe it is still a holdover from Roman Catholicism. And a damaging holdover it is.
If you are a follower of Christ, you have the ability, duty, right, and privilege to speak words of admonishment to other believers. Look at this passage:
"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15-17 (emphasis mine)
Your words matter. They matter just as much as anyone else's in the church. The church needs you to speak. Of course, all words we say must be led by the Holy Spirit. They should be stated with humility and for the upbuilding of the body.
My guess is that almost all pastors would be thrilled to have more people in the body speak to the body. Most pastors are worn out. They need the help of the rest of the church family.
Let's all speak upbuilding words to one another. We've been given the authority to do so. We all speak words with importance. We've all been charged to do it (see Coloossians 3 above).
All our words matter. We all have great potential for helping others grow in Christ through what we say.