Losing Your Platform!
- A platform gives an audience a desire even to attend.
- A platform is your connection; it is why people listen & respond.
- A platform amplifies your message.
- A platform can be gained or lost.
The “Preaching Ministry” comes with certain stipulations. One is that the congregation has called you to carry out the pulpit ministry. Therefore, they believe that your words should carry meaningful weight in their minds and hearts. In fact, by calling you as their pastor, they are willing to change their lives based on what you have to say to them as a spokesman of Scriptural truths.
Pastoral ministry is a position of influence. A pastor has no power to force or demand change, but can only “argue” for change by a clear and effective understanding and application of the Scriptures. A part of that “argument” is who is talking to them. I would maintain a significant portion of the argument. That would be easy to support by simply pointing out how people do not listen to and/or read the words of those who have lost all approbation and regard. Whether it be a news channel or paper, opinion writer or commentator, theologian or pastor — people give their attention to those they respect.
That is why it is possible for a pastor to lose his platform! It happens when he is no longer trusted as a preacher, or even believed as a reliable representative of Scriptural truth. He is no longer considered trustworthy.
√ Sometimes this happens suddenly — i.e., Bill Hybels?
√ Sometimes this happens in a domino manner. One domino falls, and that unearths another and another — i.e., Paige Patterson?
√ Sometimes this happens over a long period of time — The pastor dies from a thousand small cuts over time — i.e., pastors who are finally asked to leave after years of ministry, or have no real influence in the lives of God’s people.
I well imagine that there are various shades in between these three general situations. Nevertheless, they all amount to this . . .
The pastor no longer has a platform.
The pastor has nothing to say to the people which has any real impact on their thinking and/or, therefore, their lives. There is no serious consideration of his words in regards to their lifestyle or their decisions. That lost influence becomes more and more apparent and prominent, both in God’s people’s lives and in the attendance and attention given to the services and preaching, respectively.
Recently, I was talking to a parent of teenagers who was upset by the personal decisions which the youth pastor had made. The parent first made sure he understood what had indeed taken place.
The youth pastor had attended a secular rock concert which featured recording artist whose song lyrics were ungodly-to-vile. AND he had posted pictures of his attendance on Facebook (and thereby his enjoyment — since there were no words of unpleasantness or disgust). The parent spoke to the youth pastor and called up some of the lyrics and words of of the various songs and would not even repeat some of the lyrics.
Venture a guess as to the youth pastor’s response!
The youth pastor defended his attendance with that parent.
The youth pastor was defensive and unresponsive.
The parent then spoke to the senior pastor — who, upon hearing about the situation, the lyrics, and the terrible response of the youth pastor — was equally grieved by that youth leader’s actions.
Wisely, the youth pastor did not take that stance when called in by the senior pastor. The senior pastor indicated that it was wrong for him to attend, no less as the youth pastor, and it was equally “foolish” (I am being kind) to then post it.
The youth pastor never went to that parent to address the issue. The parent then sternly told the youth pastor. . . . “You have nothing to say to me.” By defending and excusing his actions, and never facing the fact that he had made terrible decisions, no less defending such decisions, he no longer had any ministry in the life of that parent or family!
When I heard the statement — “You have nothing to say to me!” — I thought about how pastors can and do bring people to that place in the local church ministry!
#1) A Lack Of Honest Consideration Of Criticism Or Change: There is fair and just criticism! Unfortunately, too often, the youth pastor’s response is reflective of pastors in general. Pastors are not considered, and for good reason, to be open to much of any criticism, not even honest criticism! Like those living in the “Washington Bubble,” they too may be living in the “Ministry Bubble” — an “ecclesiastical bubble” called the church office.
√ That is the “bubble” where fellow pastors, administrators, and staff assure each other that — “Everything is going good —- right?”
√ That is the “bubble” where people believe that it is good and godly to support poor-to-terrible decisions and behavior, in the name of being faithful, under authority, and respectful.
Honest and fair criticism is dismissed and marginalized by commingling it with all kinds of sinful communication. Pastors may actually believe their perspective is correct because others in the bubble support it. However, the platform damage has been under-calculated.
When you cannot face or handle honest criticism, or even what you may believe to be unfair criticism (and indeed it may be!), you as a pastor may be standing in the pulpit, but the platform is structurally undermined!
#2) The Shepherd Lives Differently Than The Sheep Are Directed:
All understand that when a pastor preaches it, but does not live it, the platform slowly decays. I say “slowly” because there is always a great deal of grace that God’s people give their pastor, but not endless grace. It does catch up with pastor-preachers.
√ That accounts for one of the reasons why pastors
find themselves moving choose to move after 3-5 years of ministry at a local church.
√ That is what accounts for the lethargy and inertia which sets into the operation and ministry of local churches, which just seem to “merry-go-round” year after year, accomplishing little-to-nothing.
When the words, actions, decisions, behavior, attitudes, lifestyle, spirit, or drive of the pastor-preacher confounds and/or contradicts what is taught, the platform of influence deteriorates as the carousel spins. 
#3) Using Political & Discretionary Power: Some pastors use and abuse their power — and a pastor does have power and, more particularly, discretionary power. If you want to see if politics have infiltrated your church, just watch what happens when someone disagrees or bucks the pastor. See if he/she . . . .
- retaliated through discretionary decisions
- transferred to a lesser role
- purposefully unmentioned
- smeared internally
- dealt with more harshly than others have been
When the use and abuse of power is noticed, the platform of influence shrinks to only a “loyal band” who learn to circle the wagons. You will come to notice . . . .
√ That those who support and/or allow the use and abuse of power — for all kinds of mixed reasons: opportunity, relationship, advantage, favor, employment, position, friendship, service & ministry, self-worth, etc. — will form the core of ministry. However, there will be an ever-rotating congregation of God’s people who actually “get it” and move on!
√ That there is a rotating checklist of church leaders who repeatedly fill the official positions of church ministries, adding only others who pledge their loyalty and are willing to be another wagoneer if necessary. Any dissonant voices which have been heard or detected will be considered members of the hostile forces who may be bold enough to attack the wagons.
. . . .
As a pastor-preacher, you can make mistakes and even sinful, self-serving mistakes. “There are no perfect pastors-preachers!” The truth may be better stated as . . . “Pastors-preachers are far from perfect at times!” There is a lot of “grace” that God’s people express towards their pastor, a man they sincerely want to honor and respect!
√ You can inappropriately or wrongly respond to fair, and even unfair criticism.
√ You can exhort others, and not exhibit the same.
√ You can inappropriately or wrongly misuse your power and position.
. . . . BUT what you cannot do is be less than fully and genuinely honest in confessing and correcting those mistakes, self-serving actions, inappropriate conduct, and poor-to-terrible decisions.
If you don’t, then “no surprise,” the platform of influence” you have been called to and given by God’s people, will worsen and waste.
One day, another pastor-preacher will follow behind, finding the pulpit-platform dilapidated. He will have the gloomy and dismal task of rebuilding it — if he can.
Many pastors will not be able to recover the damage which has been done. The all too typical pattern is — A new pastor who stays but a few years because he finds that he is unable to reestablish the trust of God’s people. The damage has been too extensive.
“Be faithful to the services of the church”: But then a pastor, wife, and/or children rarely attends Sunday School, evening service, youth activity, special services, mid-week services, “not their speaking event,” or all-church events-activities are no-shows.
“Love God’s People”: But, who does not even visit some of the most seriously ill people of the church — and then offers lame excuses as to why they have never been to the hospitable or house — which would never wash were he or a family member that seriously sick!
Don’t compromise your beliefs, even if it costs you.”: But when it comes to dealing with church leaders — the out front people, on-stage workers — little is said or done about their shaky lifestyle choices, immodest dress, sporadic church attendance, lack of participation-service, sloppy work habits, allowing members to exploit other members (prospecting from the pews), immorality, etc. Because to address such issues comes with a cost — the loss of some members or workers.
AND OTHER ADMONITIONS . . . . Be honest / Be fair-minded / Be considerate / Be gracious-kind / Be forgiving / Be a model to others / Be consistent / Work hard / Be selfless / Love all people / Move on when mistreated / Walk the higher road / Serve / Give generously / Tithe / Give the glory to God / Remember – this is not our home / Don’t love money or regard the rich / Show humility / etc.
The standard is high for all church leadership!