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Question and Answer

Is it okay to confront a pastor who I think is wrong? If yes, how do I do it?

You ask two questions: can I confront the pastor, and how to proceed? Taking these questions in reverse order—which assumes a yes answer to the first question—I would tell you first of all to go slowly. Be sure you have a legitimate complaint before you approach the pastor, and be sure that it is your complaint. Sometimes, a member of the congregation charges into a face–to–face meeting with the pastor on the basis of nothing more substantial than gossip or rumor, or, worse yet, a disgruntled member's complaint that, for example, he is not being fed. Getting sucked into somebody else's complaint is ultimately destructive, but not uncommon. The confrontation creates much ado about nothing, or worse. So move slowly.

Second, study Matthew 18:15–20; 1Timothy 4:12 and 5:1, 17–25. "Let no one look down on your youthfulness" does not encourage young men to assert their right to speak up; the text means, "conduct yourself in such a way that you will not be dismissed as a young know–it–all." In other words, earn the right to be heard. Verses in 1 Timothy 5 tell us how not to forfeit that right. First, be courteous and respectful, as if talking over an issue with your father. Second, approach the pastor, against whom you have a complaint, one–on–one, not as part of a committee. Third, if the issue is sin or the suspicion of sin, approach the pastor in a group of no more than two or three; then, if he brushes your concerns aside as of no importance, let the church elders take over. You don't have to see it to a conclusion.

Your questions require more space than is allotted here. But if you study the Scriptures and pray for help, the Lord will show you His mind.

BY C. Donald Cole

C. DONALD COLE hosted Moody Radio’s Open Line for 26 years before retiring in 2008. Before joining the team at the Moody Bible Institute in 1971, Pastor Cole and his wife, Naomi, served the Lord as missionaries in Angola from 1948 until 1966. Pastor Cole then served as a faculty member of Emmaus Bible College of Dubuque and as editor of Interest magazine.

Pastor Cole authored several books, and was married to his wife Naomi for 65 years before he went home to the Lord in 2012.

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