Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

What would you say to a pastor who uses his church on Sundays as a studio, essentially he preach-es past his people into a video camera or into a microphone with the main goal of producing online content? In other words, his church is a mechanism, a studio, for him to address an online audi-ence. Well, I would try to encourage him, first, that it is not wrong to have a wider ministry, but it is wrong to pretend that you have a flock that you shepherd when you don’t have a flock that you shepherd. You have a studio or you have a stepping stone or you have an excuse. And if that is true, you shouldn’t pre-sume to say you have a flock, because God has some really, really serious things to say about that kind of shepherd in Ezekiel 34. He says, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, even to the shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord. Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves. Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat. You clothe yourselves with wool. You slaughter the fat ones and you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened. The sick you have not healed. The injured you have not bound up. The stray you have not brought back. The lost you have not sought. And with force and harshness you have ruled over them.” Those have al-ways been unbelievably serious words to me as a pastor. And I think Peter picks it up in 1 Peter when he
Page 4 of 12says, “So I exhort you as a fellow elder, shepherd the flock of God that is in your charge. Exercise over-sight. Don’t rule with compulsion. Do it willingly. Set a good example for your people.”So it seems to me there is a profound inauthenticity about preaching past your people in front of you, past your flock. And that inauthenticity, I think, may get a crowd in the short run, but will not be blessed by God in they wider Church in the long run. Instead, I think the mindset should be—this is what I would say to anybody who is being tempted this way. Serve your people with your best energy. Serve your people with full affection. Serve your people with focused attention. Feed your flock with the food they need. Don’t give them generic messages for a generic audience. Let the extent of the ripple effect of serving your people be the impulse of others, not yourself. In other words, if God means for you to have a wider impact because of what you are saying to your sheep, let others draw that out. You just be so faithful. Love your people. Serve your people. Feed your people. Beware of the addicting dangers of being widely known. Don’t pursue that. Pursue truth. Pursue edification and worship. Pursue your flock and let the ripples take care of themselves. If other people would draw that out, maybe one illustration. You know, Spurgeon, his sermons were published in, goodness, I don’t know how many dozens of newspapers around the world. Well, my best reading of Spurgeon is he didn’t even know about some of those and it wasn’t his business to try to make that happen. He wasn’t getting up on Sunday and saying, “Ok, I have got to preach in a way that more newspapers will pick this up.” That is just not the way he thought. He fed his flock in front of him and because that was so authentic and so helpful to that flock, others picked it up. Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Please email your questions to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. At desiringgod DOT org you will find thousands of other free resources from John Piper. ... I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.