Should Pastors Rebuke Parishioners from the Pulpit?
An Oklahoma pastor spent five minutes of Sunday worship calling out parishioners by name for their flaws—including sleeping.
"You're one of the sorriest church members I have—you're not worth 15 cents," said Jim Standridge, pastor of Skiatook's Immanuel Baptist Church, to one attendee.
Should pastors rebuke parishioners from the pulpit? Christian leaders' responses are posted below, on a scale starting with "yes" and ending with "no."
"Prophets such as Amos or Nathan called people to account personally. It's almost refreshing, in this age of feel-good theology, to see a preacher really get worked up over behavior and get morally indignant in the service of the truth delivered to him to speak."
Will Willimon, professor of Christian ministry, Duke Divinity School
"Public matters may necessitate a public intervention to ensure the health of the whole church. But it should be carried out with love, grace, and for the purpose of bringing the sinner to a place of repentance rather than public shaming."
Halee Gray Scott, author, Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women
"Preaching is personal, but it is to the entire congregation. So it is completely out of line to go after congregants by name. A preacher should focus on relevant sins. If I came across three angry husbands in my pastoral counseling, it would show up in the sermons—but anonymously."
Douglas Wilson, minister, Christ Church
"Pastors who call out individual parishioners during Sunday services say more about themselves and their own insecurities than they do about those they address. They turn otherwise private exhortations into public opportunities for criticism of Christ, church, and pastor."
Mark DeYmaz, directional leader, Mosaic Church
"A pastor should not call out congregants in a direct manner during the normal, regular preaching of the Word. They should not use the pulpit to browbeat, humiliate, and bully individuals in their congregations. That is unbiblical and unacceptable."
Carl Trueman, professor, Westminster Theological Seminary
"I can't imagine a situation in which it is healthy or wise to attempt individual church discipline or exhortation in the context of preaching in a worship service. Such an approach easily becomes performance art and hardly brings stature or biblical weight to the pulpit."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary