Well, Its been close to 15 years now. 15 years since I tagged along with a friend to their church and never looked back. I didn’t have Saul/Paul type conversion. I don’t know the date of my salvation. But I know it started by tagging along to Hood view Church of God in Woodburn, OR. The Teaching on Sunday Mornings, the discipleship, the friendships and the focus on the bible were what brought me to belief and repentance.
Through a variety of reasons, I became less connected to the church (two jobs, starting school, etc.) but I still had a desire to learn more and to listen to more teaching. I didn’t leave the church or anything like that, just got less connected. So, I somehow, some way ended up turning to listening to sermon podcasts.
After the fact that I actually went to church, this is one of the first things I can point to Gods sovereignty & providence working through less than ideal situations. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know any names, good or bad. I had not been raised in the church, so I was a blank slate. Anyone could have taught me and I would likely have soaked it up.
Despite what I going to say here in a bit, I thank God on a regular basis for the pastors he brought in to my world that I was taught by. They shaped my faith, my devotion to the Bible, and testing all teaching by the Word of God and grew me In ways I probably still don’t realize.
However, Almost 15 years later, of the 4 main that I listened too, of the ones that most influenced my faith and grew my in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD, of those 4, there is only one that currently continues to influence me.
Right now, 15 years into my walk, I listen to and am taught by Men like the late RC Sproul (Ligonier), Gabe Hughes (WWUTT), Albert Mohler (The Briefing) and Alistair Begg (Truth For Life). Its the last one, Allister Begg that has remained an influence throughout my Christian life.
Of the other three, one, Tommy Sparger, had an affair and disqualified himself from ministry. One, Mark Driscoll, had to step down due to some combination of arrogance, bullying, spiritual abuse, whatever else. You ask anyone who was even peripherally aware of the Mars Hill situation in Seattle and you will get a long list of his faults. He may have been THE most influential in my growth and faith as, specifically a young Christian man. He relocated to Phoenix, started another church and for a brief time, I continued to listen to his sermons but, I just wasn’t interested anymore.
The last one, I don’t know what’s going on with. There have been no sin issues that have come up, no affairs, or disqualifications or anything like that. He is still the pastor at the same church he was when I started listening to him. He has been one of my favorite guys to listen to over the course of the last 15 years. Some of his sermons are still in my top 5 of ones I have ever heard. I quote him often. I just dont have any desire to listen to him anymore. Matt Chandler, is the pastor, other than pastors I have personally sat under and been mentored by (Thank you Pastor Dave, Pastor Scott and Pastor Scott (different one)), who has influence my faith and my knowledge of Gods Word the most. His sermons series through Habakkuk, through James, through Luke, I will always remember. His Sermons on The Law nd the Gospel (sin is cancer, Law is diagnosis, Gospel is cure) His sermon on Psalm 23 from Orange Revival at Elevation Church, his sermon on the Sinner and the tax collector in the temple from Luke, All still impact my theology and how I read the Word.
And I dont know what happened. I don’t know if he has changed, if I have changed (I know we all change) or both to bring us to this point.
And through it all, Alistair Begg, and his Scottish accent and love for the Beatles has stayed faithful to the Word, faithful to his ministry and his stayed as an influence and as a model for my to aspire to be like in my own ministry.
I don’t know what my point is, I don’t know what this all means, maybe this is more of a journal than a blog post, but it is something that has been weighing on my mind recently. God used these men to grow me, to challenge me, and to shape me in my walk with Christ, and now, and new group of men has mostly taken their place.
What about you? Have you had any pastors or men in ministry that you have “outgrown”? I don’t mean false teachers per se, though I love hearing about Christians who were saved out of the prosperity Gospel or NAR movement, but that’s not quite what I’m looking at. Are there any solid, faithful pastors, who you just don’t listen to any more? Id would love to hear from you all out there!