Separation from the People

cutribbonAnother subtle error is when the preacher is disconnected from the people. Here the preacher stands up separated from the people barking orders at those who must obey or else. These pastors end up being autocratic leaders who who are forever saying “go ye” but never saying “follow me.” Their sermons can degenerate into whipping sessions or strategic planning sessions for where the pastor wants to take the people.

The problem is that the people know when you seemingly are using them as a stepping stone to the larger church. They know when you simply don’t love them. They know it, and it becomes more of a problem for both the pastor and the congregation as the separation grows.

But then there are those who are with the people. They lead not from the detached lofty heights of irrelevancy, but from the trenches. They know what the people need to hear not because they have sequestered themselves from them all week long, but because of their being with them in their sufferings. They know about Brother S who lost his job and Sister B who needs to hear about courage. They know about their associate minister’s struggles to be true to her call and her 9-5 job. They know the people. And the people love them. Other preachers may whoop better than them, other preachers may “wreck the house,” but they wouldn’t trade their pastor for anything.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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