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SGC: The people are always the problem, not the pastors

This transcript comes from Mark Prater's podcast.  He is the top official in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  The people are always the problem, never the pastors.  Their leadership is impeccable.  Blame the rebellious and divisive sheep!  

This is the same pride on exhibit that has brought God's opposition the last ten years.


Mark Prater

June 16, 2020


Benjamin Kreps:

Hey everyone. And welcome back to the Mark Prater podcast, where our aim is to connect our global family of churches with our Executive Director. Mark, this season has been challenging for pastors. It was challenging to shut down and seek to pastor our churches remotely, unable to gather together, but it could be for some of us that the challenge of reopening and what that has been bringing into our church is maybe harder than the previous one. Do you have any thoughts about that?

Mark Prater:

I do. As I talked to pastors, and again, this is anecdotal, but consistent, I think our pastors are facing decision fatigue to say it that way, and then they have to implement those decisions. So implementation fatigue, not only in the sense that you've got just a lot to talk about, and then you've got to talk about it again. But the pushback that you received from some of the members of your church, regardless of what you decide has a unique, I think, wearing effect upon the pastor's heart and soul right now.

Benjamin Kreps:

Yeah. And I imagine most of the guys that are watching this would say, yeah, in my church, I'm facing people that are upset, people that are expressing anger, disrespect on both sides of all of these issues, as we make those decisions,

Mark Prater:

Right. You've got members who, you know, are dear Christians who at times are not acting like Christians. And I find that these few verses are bringing me perspective right now out of 2 Timothy 2:23. I'm sure verses you men know, but “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”

And that seems very appropriate for this time and for what we're facing as pastors. And I think the place to start there is the reminder that you are the Lord's servant and that's important, I think, for a couple of reasons. God has called you to be a pastor, but you have got to remember who you are as a pastor. You are a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so as you fulfill your responsibilities, what you want to do is represent him.

I think the other thing that just helps me is that even though I'm an under shepherd of the Shepherd and I serve him and I have responsibility for the folks he's given me and I'll give an account for their lives. Ultimately, wherever they land he's going to be responsible for. I can unburden myself knowing that the great servant, the almighty servant, and the Great Shepherd rules and reigns over church. So that's the place to start, I think.

Benjamin Kreps:

I've been saying to Living Hope that this is a moment that calls for our best theology to bring the gospel to bear into disagreement is one of the most important things that we need to do. And that the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome. That has been a mantra. I repeat to myself regularly as I interact with others. Any final thoughts?

Mark Prater:

Well, I think that, you know, thank you for patiently enduring evil. And you know what I mean by that is patiently enduring criticism right now. Because you're going to get critique and people unhappy with you regardless of how you decide to reopen or implement those decisions. So thank you for that. I think, secondly, keep in view, you're not just hearing the input. There are going to be moments at the right time, and timing is very important, when you need to gently correct, whether that is the speech and emotion that maybe the input is brought with. Or it may be in areas where people might not be thinking clearly doctrinally and you need to help them as you're trying to help your church think theologically.

So look for those opportunities to do that because God's using all of this ultimately for his bride and to strength in this church.

Benjamin Kreps:

Amen. I am reading Dane Ortlund’s book, Gentle and Lowly, and was struck by his reminder that Jesus gives rest to those who are heavy laden, which is outside pressures coming down upon us. And so we have a Savior who is eager and open to care for our souls in a difficult season. So thanks for the reminders and the encouragement, Mark. And thank you everyone for watching. We'll see you here next time.



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