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The Dangers of Confession while in the Pulpit

confessions.jpgShould a pastor confess their sin behind the pulpit?  I have heard people tell pastors that they should not confess their sin while preaching.  These (often a-little-too Reformed) pastors believe it diminishes the office.  This conversation took place when a friend (Tim Berroth) was discussing  Confessions of a Pastor: Adventures in Dropping the Pose and Getting Real with God by pastor Craig Groeschel.  Groeschel states in his book that often the most impactful sermons he has are the ones where he offers real personal confessions of sin. In the book, Groeschel candidly describes the struggles and sins that he fights daily as a pastor–not surprisingly, the sins that beset him are the same ones that beset us all: lust, fear, worry, a judgmental spirit, selfishness and self-centerdness to name a few. In his effort to "drop the pose and get real," Groeschel paints a vivid picture of a reality that many in the church may not readily accept or choose to ignore altogether.

Should a pastor confess their sin behind the pulpit?  How should this be done?  I recall a pastors meeting here in San Diego with Dick Kaufmann who stated something to the effect:

A pastor who confesses sin without illustrating how the gospel dealt with the sin is doing a very harmful thing.   To say, "I struggle with lust" as a confession alone is mean.  Sin should be confessed behind the pulpit, only when the pastor has gone through the process and is able to communicate how they've been changed by the gospel. 

Richard Foster in The Celebration of the Disciplines writes:

Without the cross the discipline of confession would be only psychologically therapeutic.  But it is so much more.  It involves an objective change in our relationship with God and a subjective change in us.  It is a means of healing and transforming the inner spirit.

2 Comments

  1. That was a very timely post! I’ve been wrestling with this very question. I even brought it up to someone at the recent A29 Boot Camp and have really thought some of this through. Thanks for those quotes too–good stuff.

    Mike
    http://www.partofthestory.com

  2. Kaufmann’s and Foster’s words are extremely wise and insightful. Good post Drew.

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