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Should Pastors Rebuke Parishioners from the Pulpit?
Image: Jason Tolbert / Youtube

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.

A recording of the incident has been watched almost 600,000 times on YouTube. (The full sermon is on Vimeo.)

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 ...

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Should Pastors Rebuke Parishioners from the Pulpit?
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In the Magazine

September 2013

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