What Should I Expect From My Preacher?

Charlie-DatesThe following is a guest post written by my fried Charlie Dates, who serves as pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago.

There is a reason reality TV works. Unlike sitcoms, reality TV is inexpensive to produce. Very few sets and props have to be made. No script-writers need to be hired. The typical union fees associated with high caliber actors do not apply. It is full of drama. And perhaps most importantly, televised depravity is in high demand.

Like some of you, I remember when MTV first aired the ‘Real World’ series in 1992. It was our generation’s first dosage of reality TV. It was tantalizing, scandalous, and unpredictable. We should have known then that it would simply be a matter of time before reality TV made its way into the backrooms of the church.

Now, its here!

We’ve got “Pastor’s Wives of Atlanta,” “The Sheards,” and now a new one. And this one might top them all. The Preachers of L.A. docu-series is an entre into the lives of some of LA’s well-known pastors. It’s ironic that the Oxygen network is airing the show, as it does not breathe fresh air into life. In a word, the series is unprofitable for the church. And in the final analysis, it may do more harm than good.

No man is perfect. No pastor is above the temptations of this present age. No believer in Jesus Christ is free from the presence of sin. But that doesn’t mean we need to showcase our frailty before the world.

One of the preachers from the docu-series says that this show will eliminate some of the pedestals upon which others have put them. There are a million and one other, more creative, and God-honoring ways to do that… like preach the Bible! I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that the publicized flaws of men somehow heighten the regard they garner from broader society.

Aside from the mischaracterization of the biblically faithful pastor, the show prompts us to ask the question, ‘What should I expect from my preacher?’ Here are four essential, but not exhaustive, characteristics you should expect from your preacher:

 An obvious discipline for the purpose of godlines

No one with a healthy view of life expects preachers to be super human. What should be expected is that we exercise discipline toward something higher than wealth and acclaim. We are to train ourselves for godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Every preacher ought to work hard at living circumspectly. Our personal and private living should demonstrate an ethos that is uncommon, attractive, and… well godly.

Exemplary Speech & Conduct

Although far from perfect, we preachers are called to be examples. There is no getting around that. Just this evening a member of our church asked me to pray with her for a friend, another member of our church, who is incarcerated. At the end of our conversation, she said the reason she wanted me to pray was because she perceives that I have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Now I have no more special access to the throne room of God than does she. But what she said struck me quickly. My living speaks to her. I am to exemplify the kind of deepening, devoted relationship with Jesus Christ that she herself desires. There needs to be both tangible (speech) and intangible (faith) demonstrations of your preacher’s convictions that serve as a model for you.

 A public love for the scriptures

You don’t have a real preacher if he doesn’t love the word of God. The Bible is the very word of God to humanity. If a preacher preaches something other than the scriptures it won’t transform your life. It cannot be trusted as a good foundation upon which to build your life. It will give way when the storms of life strike. But if your preacher preaches the word of God according to its original intent, you can bank your life on it. History is the single greatest witness that the Bible can be trusted as the word of God. We preachers are to give our attention to publicly reading, preaching and teaching the word of God.

 Evident progress of his maturity and ministry

The preacher is often the hardest working person in the community. He labors in his study. He gives to others at the expense of his own comfort. He is required to love the un-loveable. He is often misunderstood, underappreciated, and undervalued. But it is in those things where his value is most clearly seen. He demonstrates what God can do with a surrendered life. His living gives you a window into the heart of a maturing Christian. If you’ve got a real preacher you will be able to discern growth in his life. Soon after you will notice progress in your own life.

I’m not here to tell you whether to watch the new preacher docu-series on Oxygen. What I can tell you is that if you’ve got a real preacher he is a breath of fresh air in a polluted world.

Feel free to comment. 

Recommended Resources

Charlie Dates Interview

GUEST POST: Help! I’m a Young Pastor… At an Old Church

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Nancy Ellis

    Wonderful post that I agree with whole heartedly. This shows the Black Church in such a negative light and reinforces the sterotype of Black Pimping Preachers and women congregants that are so desperate for a good man that they use their pastors as surrogate partners.

  • Mark

    AWESOME ARTICLE…I LOOKED AT THE 1ST SHOW HOPING IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CRAZY…..BUT …WOW……HOW DOES A SINNER WATCH THIS AND THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THE CHURCH.

  • Evan

    I think that because of generations of ‘lack’ and poverty, and disenfranchisement within the black community, a mentality has been born out of that. This constant need for personal gain and elevation, almost at any cost. And of course, the black church seems to be incapable of separating itself from both the positives and the negatives of the black culture. So of course that oppressed mentality has saturated our church. As a preacher, and a musician- I always come in contact with musicians who refuse to play for free. Won’t preach for less than such and such. Won’t minister to congregations smaller than XYZ. It’s this terrible “I gotta get mine” mentality, and it seems to be everywhere. My point is, that’s the same foolishness that drives anointed singers to go use their gift to *compete* on TV shows. Because it’s not enough to just be anointed and effective. You gots’ to get paid, or you haven’t accomplished anything. And this preachers of LA foolishness is just an extension of that. It’s not enough to just be anointed and effective. It’s not enough to win souls for Christ through the monotenous routine of preaching from the pulpit. But we gots to’ get more. And more. And more. So we end up prostituting the gospel on network TV. To accomplish what exactly? Because fame, money and noteriety are the only evidence of a successful ministry to some folk. I personally think that as a nation, and as a culture, we are waaaaay outside of the model that God prescribed for His church. In fact, I’ve always said that the procedural look and feel of modern (non extremist) Islam, with its disciplines, and commitment to honoring God are probably more inline with the style of worship than modern Americanized Christianity. Unfortunately, the absence of Christ invalidates all their hard work. But when I look at this self-celebrating foolishness on TV, we may be missing the glaring reality, that some branches of our modern ‘pop’ church is equally devoid of Christ… We can preach His name, but if we’re not preaching His personality, we’re in trouble.

  • AJ Watkins

    Pastor Charles, thanks for posting because people need to see these four prominent traits in their leader. Pastor Dates, awesome blog and it is worth sharing with others. This is good insight for the saints who are seeking a messenger who preaches God’s Word so they can apply it to their private lives. Phenomenal post.

    Pastor A. J. Watkins D.Min.

  • Jeffery Ferrell

    Excellently stated, Thanks Pastor Dates for putting those thoughts into words. Thanks Pastor Charles for sharing!

  • Deryk Hayes

    Pastor Dates this a dynamic post. Pastor Charles thank you for posting. Not within the church in which I grew up in, serve at and call home do we have a “pastor on a pedestal problem.” However, I can clearly see that there are far too many preachers, particularly young preachers would rather look good than live right, buy suits rather than resources that will enhance the ministry in which one has been called to for no greater reason than to glorify God. It seems that a lot of preachers my age (33) are seeking the self-promoting platform and unfortunately this may be the damaging yet accepted norm in the local church. PREACHERS of L.A. now provides a platform for disqualified men to mock the pastoral office. In my frustration and low tolerance (please pray for me, God was indeed patient with me…… May I extend that same grace to others) for the lack of commitment to model what our Bible specifically spells out the character qualities of a pastor, I’ve heard over and over again that some of these men are functioning according to their capacity and I’m fully aware that God has not given everybody a Pastor K. Edward Copeland to start in ministry under and serve under. However if you don’t have a strong man discipling you, we still have no right to look outside of the word of God and to damaging reality, wolf tv for pastoral wisdom. Or/and to see what to expect from our preacher.

  • Nikki

    Thank you for posting this!! This show demonstrates the sad state of affairs of many “churches” today. I am thankful that you, Pastor Charles and your brothers in the pulpit like Rev. Dates, continue to preach the Bible and God’s word without shame.
    Thank you!!!

  • James Moore

    Well said Dr. Dates! Well said.

  • Labrina Miles

    Amen! Amen again!!!