When it comes to teaching about the gospel itself, most pastors look to the bible to lead all they say. While the gospel may be presented in somewhat different ways (for example, John 3 versus John 4), the key content remains the same. We all find this content in the bible. I give pastors credit for staying true to scriptural teachings on salvation.
Something weird happens when most pastors begin teaching about the church. They abandon many of the principles of biblical interpretation that they use for understanding and teaching the gospel. Most pastors take into consideration everything the bible has to say about salvation.
When it comes to the church pastors ignore much. In particular, they act as if what we read about church life is simply description. The scriptures certainly tell us much about how we are to live. Some of this is in the form of exhortation, but some comes in the form of narrative. While narrative may be descriptive, some of it also has prescriptive authority.
I'm convinced of the prescriptive nature of the New Testament church narrative for one primary reason. That reason is that the apostles were present as active participants in the early church. If anyone knew what Jesus expects and demands from the life of his people, it would be the apostles. A few years ago I wrote a piece entitled On the Importance of Apostolic Presence that explains my reasoning in detail.
The form of church life we see around us today deviates a great deal from what we see in scripture. Professional pastors have a large part to play in this. Through their piecemeal teaching about the church, pastors are telling the church that the biblical model for church life is unimportant.
Pastors are not being fair in how they interpret and teach the bible. They use strikingly different principles for their teaching on the gospel versus their teaching on the church. This is incredibly irresponsible. Not only is their teaching faulty, but they are offering to the people a confusing manner of how they should understand scripture as they study it for themselves.
This interpretive mess would largely disappear if the professionalism of the pastorate disappeared. Let's hope it happens today.
(The above is section twenty-four of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)