He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.
In connection with pastoral ministry, I've been thinking a lot this past year about pastors who choose not to guard the good deposit, rather spending their time focusing on evangelism and church growth techniques. Question them about their silence in the pulpit concerning sodomy, sacramentalism, Rome, abortion, divorce, or the love of money and they'll come out with some high-sounding platitudinous statement like, "I've determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I want to be all things to all people. We must not allow our pulpit to become a divisive presence in our church, alienating seekers and young believers."
A couple months ago, I spoke to a young professional who attends a flagship PCA congregation on the Eastern Seaboard...
I asked my friend his analysis of the preaching ministry of his church's senior pastor, and he responded saying his pastor is "very sophisticated," and thus intentional and careful in the issues he addresses and the words he uses to address them in his pulpit. He went on to say this meant that, despite the extremely large and politically aggressive homosexual population of their city, across the years he could not remember his pastor addressing homosex from the pulpit. Same with abortion and marriage--in their pulpit, his senior pastor was silent on these subjects. He could remember one sermon on marriage, and during that sermon his pastor had made some statement about husbands leading. But this was the exception to the rule of safety pervading his pastor's pulpit ministry.
My friend explained his pastor was silent on such matters because he believed preaching on controversial subjects was incompatible with a Gospel-centered ministry. For himself, be preferred to focus on the positive work of leading people to faith in Jesus Christ.
Such justifications are naked in their self-interest. Nowhere in Scripture do we find the Apostles arguing for such cowardly compromise. To be silent concerning God's justice while magnifying His grace, to avoid calling men to repentance while speaking much about faith, is to eviscerate the power of the Gospel. It is to rob grace and faith of the only biblical context in which they come into view and are used by the Holy Spirit to change lives.
Like Sen. Ted Kennedy, such men typically claim their doctrine is orthodox. They're personally opposed to abortion, sacramentalism, homosex, and feminism, of course. They believe in the holiness of God and the necessity of man's repentance just as much as the next PCA pastor, but their church long ago decided they weren't going to "lead with their chin." Rather, they committed themselves to focus on being approachable and engaging the surrounding culture on the issues it already cared about. Each church to her own, but their ministry is about racial reconciliation, the fine arts, and TESL--not talking points cribbed from the platform of the Republican Party.
Does it really need to be said that culturally sensitive evangelization is never in tension with, let alone antithetical to, prophetic calls to repentance? In fact, as the Apostle Paul demonstrates among Athen's Areopagus, a prophetic witness against the sins of the indigenous culture is always the door through which new believers walk into faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is just the tired excuse used by pastors caught in the act of scratching ears to justify their cowardice and sloth.
As Proverbs 18:9 points out, the pastor who blurs the distinction between the sexes by having women serve as deacons, administer the Lord's Supper, and exercise authority over men as a professional "Minister" of the congregation while protesting that he's in conformity with his denomination's "traditional" position on sexuality is brother to the pastor who says the Apostle Paul was wrong in banning women from exercising authority over men.
Our Lord took up His cross and called us to follow Him in taking up ours. May we be found faithful.