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3 Things I Don’t Want to Hear From a Pastor…. EVER!

Now that I’m a regular Joe sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, I’ve gotten a chance to discover some things that are awkward for the audience to hear. In short, I don’t think pastors should say these things… EVER!

  1. Talk about your sex life. How gross is it to hear any 40 something year old man talk about sex with his spouse? It’s especially gross for a pastor to talk about having sex with his wife while she sits and blushes in the audience. And Ed Young, yeah… we know sex is beautiful… but no one wants to know how many times you had sex in a week. I think I just puked in my bulletin.
  2. Talk about your past careers. I know working at a church can pretty redundant and boring. And sometimes you feel like your role is insignificant next to the corporate types who write the big checks. Get over it, you aren’t a _____ anymore. You’re a pastor, your congregation loves you, and we know you could make more money elsewhere. Please don’t remind us of that every week, we don’t care.
  3. Using your kids sin as an illustration. Holy smokes this has got to damage kids self-image. Can you imagine the horror of not only being busted doing something bad but then having your mom or dad tell hundreds… or even thousands of people about it? No wonder so many pastor kids grow up hating Jesus. Cough. ***golden rule*** Cough. Cough.

Thankfully, Stephen rarely does any of these.

So what do I suggest? I know that these 3 things tend to come up because you need a good illustration. And typically, when I’ve let these types of things sneak in it is because I don’t have time to really research a great illustration. But you know they are “winners” and will go over with the core audience well because it’s personal and the people love you. But, be honest, these three things tend to come out most often when you have little time to prepare.

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

17 replies on “3 Things I Don’t Want to Hear From a Pastor…. EVER!”

I can go one worse.

At last year’s Presbyterian General Assembly, a pastor talked about his teenage daughter’s sex life on the floor of plenary. Unbelievable.

Adam,

I agree with you that sharing the embarrassing, shameful parts of someone else’s life (against their will) is itself embarrassing and shameful on the part of the person (Pastor) sharing it…ESPECIALLY when it’s their own kid! Yikes!

That said, are you saying that a Pastor’s life is only as relevant as the parts you want to hear about? Doesn’t a church need to hear the (authentic) struggles from their Pastor’s life? Sure they do…they need to know that their Pastor is human, just like them. I’d take it a step further then, and say that a church should also know when their Pastor is getting something right.

Let me ask you, what are 3 things you’d LIKE to hear from a Pastor?

Todd, honestly I think there is a wide line between being authentic and over-sharing.

I’m not going to lie… when we’re in a small group with each other I don’t mind you sharing intimate details, struggles, etc. But when preaching… it’s just doesn’t connect with me at all. Nothing makes me tune out faster than some silly story about how a pastor used to sell cars and make loads of money.

And I certainly don’t want to hear about ANYONE’S sex life. If I want that I’ll tune into Springer.

What do I want from a preacher? Focus on what the Bible is teaching the audience.

I think there is a misconception that “connecting to the pastors life” is equivalent to hearing from God. In truth, I think those things get in the way. I’m there to hear from God’s Word and worship with a congregation.

Adam,
One thing that really drives me crazy and whenever I speak I try to stay as far away from as possible is when a pastor says anything that puts his own wife in a bad light – either in an illustration or an off handed comment or anything. This happens way too much and I know that it doesn’t prepare my heart for worship or spiritual growth.

Adam,

Yeah, listen…I TOTALLY agree with you that anyone who speaks from the stage (this includes Pastors) OVERSHARE from time to time, and I’ll agree with Ben too that when a Pastor says something to put his own wife in a bad light it’s already happened too much!

That said, I don’t think it’s an automatic overshare when the Pastor states somewhere in his message that this whole “following Jesus” deal is tough…even for him. I’ve never heard anyone say that hearing from the Pastor’s life is = hearing from God. Was Paul oversharing when he confessed that he had a “thorn in his flesh”, or that the “things he knew he shouldn’t do, he couldn’t help but do?”

Preaching the Gospel (living in the Kingdom of God), isn’t supposed to be impersonal. The Pastor, though, doesn’t need to give the nitty gritty details of his life to get his point across either.

Speaking as a pastor, I only use illustrations from my life when they fit the text. Too often I think Pastor’s use their life illustrations as the basis/focus of the sermon (which I think Adam is right when he says it is because of a lack of preparation). When the sermon strays to far from the text that is when I tune out (granted I don’t get to hear many sermons anymore now that I am the one speaking, but when I do I can’t focus when I don’t see the connection).

I think Adam’s list is a legitimate one. (1) I don’t think my personal “sex” life needs to be shared in worship. Talking about the gift of sexual relations as part of the marital relationship and how that can be related to our relationship with God is good. Giving an example of my personal sex life……not so good. (2) I don’t have a past career, so I guess I get off the hook on this one. However, I think the key is how they are sharing their past career. If it brings to light a struggle within the Christian narrative of Scripture then it is valid, if it is used to bring attention to the pastor or to fill some sense of “worth” of the pastor then yeah…not good. (3) I have shared stories about my son, but they spoke more to the human condition then anything specific he did…of course when he is only 2 years old it doesn’t quite have the same impact as sharing something about your older child/teenager who would be extremely embarrased and would have yet another thing added to their list of things they don’t like about church since at least in my experience PKs have been expected to be “perfect little angels” because they are the pastor’s kid and if they screw up they are talked about more than if it were just a kid of one of the congregants. Guess that is part of the public life, something I hope to remind people of us that my children should be treated no differently then any of the other children of the church.

Great Blog and I enjoy reading it. I found it because of your post about “church buildings” or how they are a waste of money, etc.

Todd- I hear you. My thing is simply that I think a lot of pastors preach about themselves a lot. If it were once in a blue moon I wouldn’t cringe.

Justin- welcome to my blog! Great comments.

so i need to stop telling stories about my days as a security guard with a top secret clearance, carrying classified material, wearing an outfit that looked like roscoe from the dukes of hazard, and being only 22 chubby with long curly hair?

dang, those are some of my favorite stories. &:~(

I don’t like my pastor…….it’s to the point where I can’t listen to him. He’s very arrogant……his personality is unsuited for the ministry. His first sermon was “I never wanted to be a pastor.” Hmmmm. (He’s the oldest son of a PK…..a pastor by default.) Very, very sad……time to leave the church? Or maybe he’ll leave?

wow- so encouraging! i love how you are building the church in this post! awesome job! you’re pastor must be so blessed to have you watching over his shoulder!

When I saw the topic I was going to blast you for putting a box around your Pastor…lol, actually your advice is good..as a pastor I will take it

How about saying that your current wife is the love of your life while former wife and kids are in the audience?

I think pastor should preach the gospel of Jesus the Christ and not about themselves at worship service because I did not come on sunday to listen at there personal life but the word of God.

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