[Editor’s note: To participate in our weekly advice column, submit your questions here and watch this space each Wednesday.]
I’ve been involved with my church for about a year, and I really love it and all the people there. However, lately I’ve noticed that there are some aspects of theology being taught that I don’t fully agree with. It’s not anything I think is big enough to leave the church over, but it just kind of rubs me the wrong way every time the pastor brings it up. Should I confront my pastor about it, or should I just ignore it?
Obviously, not all Christians agree on everything. But depending on the disagreement, you are in good company, because few things annoyed Jesus or the apostles more than incorrect teaching. Martin Luther even started the Protestant Reformation because of his annoyance with the Church’s incorrect doctrine.
But before you go and nail a list of complaints to the door of your pastor’s office, I would take the time to ask yourself these three questions:
1. What Does the Bible Say About it?
Christianity is unique among religions in that its adherents are encouraged to test the teaching they receive and not accept it just because it comes from a preacher or person in authority. John encourages us in 1 John 4 to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
So take the teachings from your church, community or pastor and test them against what Scripture states. Can you find that they are consistent? Or do these teachings in your church disagree with what the Bible actually says?
This will help you discern whether you have biblical grounds to confront your teachers. If you do end up confronting the pastor or teacher, you will want to bring more of an argument than, “Your teaching annoys me.” You would be well served to have biblical grounds to challenge their (or anyone’s) teaching.
2. Is it Me?
Of course, you may find that your pastor or teacher lines up with Scripture. If so, then you probably need to search yourself and ask why you’re feeling annoyed.
Many times, we may walk away from a church not feeling right about what we heard taught. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the teaching was unbiblical or incorrect. Sometimes that feeling we feel is the Spirit of God using His Word to convict us of sin or in our own lives or errors in our thinking. Perhaps we feel annoyed because we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, or perhaps we failed to approach our time of worship in prayer and humility.
It’s wise, before you jump the gun and confront others, first to pray like the Psalmist, “Search me O God and know my heart, test me and see if there be any grievous way in me.” This kind of submission requires humility. So remember, be humble and ask, “Is there anything in my life that could be contributing to the discord I feel in my faith community?” “Am I annoyed because the teaching is unbiblical or am I annoyed because the teaching is striking too close to home?”
Often, I find the latter to be true.
3. Can I Confront False Teaching in a Spirit of Love and Peace?
Unity and peace within the Church are the foremost characteristics of a Spirit-filled community. We never want to do anything actively to bring discord to what God has joined together. Our motivation should always be love and never pride. Remember that love bears all things, endures all things and never fails (1 Corinthians 13).
However, if some teaching in your church runs contrary to the Scriptures or to the Gospel, then you should bring your concern to the authorities in your church.
But remember, Jesus-like confrontation is for the benefit of the Church, not your own reputation. So confront in the name of truth, but speak the truth in love. If you find can’t do this without getting angry, or if you’re just looking to prove you’re right, then take a step back and pray for wisdom as to how to proceed. Your victory will be hollow if you succeed in correcting your pastors’ or teachers’ doctrine, but fail to display the love and humility that doctrine teaches.
Have a question? Good! Send an email to AskRELEVANT@relevantlab.kinsta.com. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.