Author Archives: brentprentice
If you haven’t already, will you PLEASE fill out this survey?
This survey will help us make strategic decisions about gathering again. It is very, very important that each family fill one of these out: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3968N7M If you are not a member, or don’t plan on attending as a guest, please do not do this survey. Thank you.
When will we gather again?
The Elders met on Saturday and with complete unity agreed that we would target Sunday, June 7th to gather again in our building. Please understand that the COVID-19 situation is a fluid one and plans could change. But as of now, we will target Sunday, June 7th.
What about Core Groups?
Practicing proper social distancing, we want each Core Group to consider meeting face-to-face as soon as possible. However, we are asking Core Groups to meet in homes for the foreseeable future. Even once we begin gathering again on June 7th at the church building, we are still going to ask Core Groups to meet in homes or outside on the church property. We will have more details and suggestions as we get closer to June 7th.
What about other groups and ministries?
We are asking all other groups and ministries to refrain from using the building until we see how things progress over the summer. Each ministry and group can reach out to Brent or Ryan to discuss when they can begin using the building once we get to June the 7th.
Why are the Elders so protective of the building?
We want to make sure we are being as consistent as we can be with all groups. Also, we want to minimize the amount of space we have to sanitize to comply with local policies and standards.
What about the details for gathering again?
It has occurred to me that shutting everything down was the easy part. Getting things up and running again is going to be the bigger logistical challenge. It is going to require a lot of wisdom and planning. It is going to require cooperation and change. We can do it, but we will need your patience and help. One of the reasons we chose June 7th is so that we could make sure we had adequate time to gather information, see how things are going with the spread of the virus, and to plan adequately. Please pray for us. We will be sharing more and more details and plans as we get close to June 7th.
Why are other churches already meeting but Eagle Heights is waiting until June 7th?
Each local body must do what is best for their particular situation, according to their own conscience. Hear me loud and clear; we want to gather. I am eager to gather again and worship the Lord Jesus Christ with you all. But God has given us the opportunity not to rush back. We are not fearful, but we do want to be cautiously wise. Part of the reason we are waiting is that we hope to be clear of some of the local and state policies that would distract us from worshiping together, even though they are for our protection. We have been absent from one another for two months; surely three more Sundays a part can be overcome. May our absence from one another make our hearts grow founder for the gathering of God’s people in Jesus Christ. May this time serve to show us the gift we have every Sunday as we gather to remember and worship the crucified and risen Lord.
Again, we will roll out more details as June 7th gets closer. But in the meantime, please let us know your concerns and questions. They can only help us as we plan to gather again.
Do you remember how this all began? Do you remember how COVID-19 forced us into a whole new world that included suspending our church’s face-to-face meetings? On Wednesday, March 11th, the first domino fell when the Oklahoma City Thunder game with the Utah Jazz was canceled moments before tip-off. Just a few days later, on Friday the 13th, we made the decision to cancel our Sunday morning worship gathering and stream our Sunday worship content online. In a matter of days, we made the decision to cancel all our in-person gatherings and continue to try to be the church using the Internet and technology. The change was abrupt. By necessity, it was a sudden decision that changed the way we function as a local church.
Seven Sundays later, we are hopeful that we will soon be able to gather again, just as local churches have done for nearly 2,000 years. Unfortunately, gathering again won’t happen as suddenly as the shutdown did. Church life as we knew it before COVID-19 is not going to go back to normal on May 3rd, the first Sunday churches can meet again under phase 1 of Governor Stitt’s Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan.
So before I disclose the details of what the Elders have discussed and decided, I ask the following of all our members. First, please recognize that getting back to normal will be a process. It might be a long process, as in months, not weeks. Second, please understand that the situation is fluid and can change quickly. According to Governor Stitt’s plan, if restrictions are to continue to loosen so that we can graduate to the next phase (phase 2), then hospital and incident rates must remain manageable for 14 days. Third, keep in mind that the situation is not simple. We have to think about a number of concerns that will impact the safety of people we care about and love. Please be patient and considerate of one another. Finally, pray for wisdom and guidance as we navigate this together.
Without further ado, here is the short-term plan the Elders unanimously endorsed on Sunday afternoon.
- We will not be meeting at the church building during phase 1, which includes both Sunday, May 3rd, and Sunday, May 10th. We will continue to stream our worship content via Facebook during that time. There are several reasons we chose not to meet on those Sundays. First, we could not have childcare per the governor’s policy. Second, people 65 years and older, and people with pre-existing conditions would be asked not to come. Third, we would have to honor social distancing requirements as it relates to seating. There are other reasons that we chose to wait, but the bottom line is this: we all concluded that phase 1 would make worshiping together very difficult.
- We hope that 5Groups, and one-to-one meetings, will start to happen again. These meetings can happen in coffee shops, restaurants, and homes.
- The Elders are recommending that larger groups, like Core Groups, continue to use zoom, and other online platforms, to maintain social distancing through phase 1.
- We are asking that all groups refrain from using the building in phase 1. We are doing this in part to make sure we are consistent with who can use the building and who can’t.
- The Elders will meet again on Saturday, May 9th to reassess the situation, and decide what adjustments to make going forward as we enter into phase 2. Keep in mind, that progressing on to each phase is dependent on whether or not hospital and incident rates remain manageable during each phase.
We recognize that other churches will have different plans. Some will gather on the 3rd and some won’t gather again for months. One thing we have learned as we have met with other pastors and church leaders from across the state is that there is no consensus plan on how churches will adjust to opening up again. Every congregation and context is different. The one thing we have been told over and over again is that reopening is a process, not a one-time decision. Please be patient with us as we navigate this unique time.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. The Elders are always glad to listen.
Many of us have extra time on our hands these days as we shelter in place, and I hope that each of us will make sure not to binge-watch our lives away. The temptation is real. The Bible exhorts us to make the most of the time, for the days are full of evil (Eph. 5:16). We are told to put on the full armor of God through Bible reading and prayer (Ephesians 6:10-2) so that we will be ready to speak with confidence the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may want to watch our quarantine days away, but I hope we seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Having made this obvious but necessary qualification, I want to suggest several forgotten or under-the-radar family-oriented options for your viewing pleasure.
- Lost in Space on Netflix – This is a modernized version of the 1960s sci-fi show. It has impressive special effects, and it is very family-friendly as far as language, sexuality, and violence. If you like sci-fi and adventure, then this worth the watch. Season one is a little slow in the beginning, and the second season is quite a bit better than the first. There is a third season coming out in 2021.
- The Pilgrim’s Progress – Revelation Media has created and released an entertaining and gripping version of John Bunyan’s classic. Bunyan’s book is second only to the Bible in popularity, using allegory to present the gospel message and the journey of a disciple’s life. We watched it with our 8-year-old and it produced very good conversations about spiritual realities. The portrayal of characters can be a bit frightening to smaller children. Click on this link and you can watch for free: https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/RM11280/
- That Thing You Do – Tom Hanks and Liv Tyler star in a very clean and entertaining story of a one-hit-wonder band in the 1960s. It reminds us that fame and human applause is fleeting. On the entertainment side, it has quickly become a favorite of my oldest son.
- Hoosiers – The NBA is on hold indefinitely and the NCAA tournament was canceled, so where are you going to get your basketball fix? Gene Hackman stars in an underdog movie that is based on a true story of rural, Indiana High School Team. If you have a son or daughter that only likes to shoot or do the things that get the glory, then this is a great story that reminds us that fundamentals and discipline are critical to success. That is what I tried to tell my sons, anyway.
- Greater; The Brandon Bulsworth Story (Netflix) – I don’t like the Arkansas Razorbacks but I really like this movie. This film tells the story of a small-town Arkansas football player with a difficult home-life, who dreamed of playing for the Razorbacks. Overcoming a number of obstacles, including college teammates who belittle his faith in Jesus, he not only makes the team as a walk-on, but he excels and eventually gets drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. While the football side is a great story, his greatest impact is the legacy of his faith in Jesus Christ.
- A Hidden Life – Based on a true story of an Austrian peasant farmer who refused to declare loyalty to Hitler during WWII. It portrays unwavering faith that keeps him loyal to his convictions, his wife, and his children as he faces the threat of execution. This movie is almost three hours long and is rated PG-13. It comes highly recommended as a film that has flown under the pop-culture radar. Trailer: https://youtu.be/qJXmdY4lVR0
- Free Solo – This a documentary about Alex Honnold and his journey to be the first to solo climb Yosemite’s El Capitan. It is PG-13 for strong language.
Do you have any suggestions the provoke the imagination and teach good life-lessons? I would like to see your suggestions.
Some say we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. For many, the crisis is real. There has been a loss of employment. There has been isolation and loneliness. There has been illness and death. There is uncertainty. There is fear.
But there are also good things happening. There is service happening. There is courage. There is giving. There is love. There is sacrifice. There are many reasons for encouragement. I want to encourage you by sharing some acts and attitudes that have encouraged me.
- I was exchanging texts with a church member today who was checking on me, and I asked him if his family had contacted those below and above him in the membership directory. He said they had, but they were going to start contacting more. His initiative to do more than asked edified me.
- I was speaking with some of our senior adults by phone, and a sister told me that they are not fearful of what might happen. She said they go to bed every night knowing that God is in control, and the most important thing in life is taken care of in Christ Jesus. She rhetorically asked, “Why should we fear?”
- Our children’s director from church called and spoke to our daughter this morning. She didn’t have to do that, but listening more than she was able to talk, she took the time to care about a 7-year-old and her 7-year-old concerns. She also asked her about her favorite Bible verse. During the conversation, I heard out daughter say, “I really want to be able to go to Wednesday Night and Sunday Church again.” I thank God that an adult took time to care about a child and I was encouraged my daughter likes to gather with our local church.
- I have been encouraged by several who have offered to serve others, and give money and food to those who are in need.
- Our staff has been eager to adjust to the circumstances, taking on new responsibilities to serve our faith family. They have excelled at thinking of ways they can be innovative.
There are other examples that I have seen in the past several weeks that escape me now, and God knows them all.
How have you been encouraged by others? What are you doing to be an encouragement to others during these trying, uncertain, and even fearful times?
Pray for wisdom and strength to be an encouragement to someone in Christ. A crisis is an opportunity to make a difference and encourage someone who is in need.
Dear Faith Family,
I hope you will read this carefully and then determine to be the body of Christ, by building one another up in love.
You have heard it said, “Never waste a good crisis.” And I tell you there is wisdom to be gleaned from that statement. Let me explain. For most of us, this present situation is not one we would choose. It is inconvenient. It has created uncertainty. It has produced fear and anxiety. It all seems surreal. But this is an opportunity for us to see this disruptive moment as something that an all-powerful God can use for good. Here is what we are doing to trust and obey Jesus together as a local church.
- WE ARE ASKING EVERY EAGLE HEIGHTS MEMBER TO HELP US LOVE AND SERVE ONE ANOTHER – Each of you will receive an updated member’s directory by email. If you don’t receive one, please email Mindy at firstname.lastname@example.org and request one. When you receive the membership directory, please contact the person above you and below you in the directory. Try calling first. If that does not work, then please text or email. When you call or text, introduce yourself and explain that you are a member of Eagle Heights Baptist Church and that you are calling to see how they are doing. Then check on them by asking these questions: 1) Ask them how you can pray for them. 2) Ask them what they are currently reading in their Bible. 3) Ask them if there is a way that you can practically serve them. Finally, ask them if they have received the email and the church directory. If they have, then encourage them to do the same for the person below them in the directory. We understand that you may already be doing this for people in your Core Group, 5Group, or CR Group, but this “crisis” is a God-given opportunity for us to build relationships and care for people beyond our groups that already exist. Also, our First Impressions Coordinator, Wendy Ringer, along with others, will be contacting some of you to make sure that we are all doing our part. If you don’t hear from someone by phone, text or email, please let us know. For the good of this body and the glory of Christ, please do your part and reach out to one another. Please try to do this by Saturday of every week until further notice.
- SERVING AND CARING FOR OUR SENIOR ADULTS AND SHUT-INS – Please be aware that our deacons are already working hard at reaching out to our senior adults and shut-ins. If you desire to help the deacons or want to contribute to the benevolence fund, please contact Mindy at email@example.com and she will put you in contact with the deacons.
- DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO NEEDS HELP? – If you need help or know someone that does, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This is first and foremost for church members. We will do what we can to help everyone, but just like every other organization, we have limited resources.
- SMALL GROUP RESOURCES FOR ONLINE MEETINGS – To honor our local government leaders and to love our neighbors, we are suggesting that groups use online platforms like Zoom to meet. We know, it’s not what is best; it’s not how we want to get together. But look at the bright side. We are fortunate that we live in a time in which we have access to such mediums and platforms. Whatever you do, make sure your groups are contacting everyone in your group at least once a week to check on each other and pray. Note: Even if you are doing this as a group, we still want everyone to use the Eagle Heights Membership Directory to check on the whole body of Eagle Heights. Here is a link to Zoom: https://zoom.us/ Here is a very brief video tutorial for church groups who want to use zoom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKQq96TiGpg&t=&fbclid=IwAR3XsAQxUj9il3TfpjBhrnn-j49EtA7Vyy58QZVuyUAGMhQjy3bU97NYx0g Here is a helpful article on how to lead a small group online: https://factsandtrends.net/2020/03/19/how-to-host-a-small-group-online/
- WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIVE – Beginning this Wednesday, Parker will lead a 15-minute devotional at 6:30 pm. We will be using our Eagle Heights Facebook Page to stream this content and we hope that you will take advantage of this to implement and practice family worship. While this is targeted for families and youth, we encourage everyone to participate.
- GIVING TO EAGLE HEIGHTS MINISTRY AND MISSIONS – There are several options for supporting the ministry of Eagle Heights and Missions. 1) You can mail a check to 2617 N. Jardot Rd. 74075 2) You can use online giving: https://eagleheights.com/give 3) Text Giving: If you want to give to the “general ministry fund”, then text “Give” and the amount you want to give to this number: 405.353.9939. If you want to give to the “missions fund”, then you can type “Missions” followed by the amount you want to give to the same number: 405.353.9939.
- ONLINE MEETINGS WITH ELDERS? – The Elders are brainstorming the possibility of designating some times that members can join them for a short time of devotion and prayer using a platform like Zoom. This is still in the works, and we will let you know if this hypothetical plan becomes an option.
- PRAY FOR THE WEEKLY ELDER MEETING – Please pray for the Elders as they meet on Thursday Nights to discuss how to lead and care for our faith family during this time.
A church is a group of people who are committed to following Christ and serving one another in love. Will you join us? Will you be a part of what we are supposed to be and do? Let’s be the church! Let’s be the gospel made visible, demonstrated by our love for one another. Then the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35).
Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
For God’s Glory Together – Pastor Brent
Greetings Brothers and Sisters:
These are unprecedented times. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a lot of interruption and uncertainty, and yes, even fear. But God’s word has some very certain things to say to us in an uncertain and often turbulent, fear-producing world. God’s word repeatedly tells us not to fear or to be afraid (Joshua 1:9; Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 6:34; John 14:1, 27; 2 Timothy 1:7; Etc.). It’s times like these that we find out who or what we really trust and worship.
God’s word also commands us to gather regularly for worship with our local church (Hebrews 10:19-25). To forsake the local church without a substantial reason (this may soon be one of those substantial reasons) is to forsake the word of God and Jesus, who is the head of the church body. So despite the uncertainty and concerns over the Coronavirus, we will continue to meet regularly unless we must suspend meeting together for a time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make decisions as things develop.
So we intend to continue to meet for the foreseeable future, but we also want to be wise. We don’t want to needlessly endanger people by not taking this virus seriously. Some among us may be more susceptible to the impacts of this virus, like our senior adults. We want to do what is best for everyone.
Here are some ways you can love others as we plan to continue gathering together:
- Know the symptoms. They are similar to other upper respiratory infections with symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, coughing, and sometimes a fever.
- If you have the symptoms, please stay home. We would ask you to do the same thing if you had the flu or strep or a cold. The church gathering is a time of sharing life, but please make every effort not to share any sickness.
- Lather your hands with sanitizer and wash your hands a lot. We have purchased extra hand sanitizer for the church building, and we have plenty of soap, so please use it. If you are serving in any capacity, please wash your hands when you get to the building.
- We will suspend the greeting time. For the foreseeable future, we will not have the greeting time to prevent opportunities to inadvertently pass on infections.
- No holy kisses or holy handshakes, please. Let’s continue to greet each other with smiles and maybe an elbow tap, but let’s avoid handshakes for a while. Even if there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Stillwater for the time being, this is good practice for when/if it impacts our city.
- If you can’t attend or you are concerned about attending, please do these things. 1) Let us know so we can see if there is some way to assist you. 2) Listen or watch the sermons online: https://eagleheights.com/resources/sermons-podcasts 3) You can give online: https://eagleheights.com/give 4) Don’t fall out of the spiritual discipline and habit of church attendance.
- We also want you to know that we sanitize the children’s areas after each Sunday. We were doing this long before the Coronavirus was on our radar. Again, please don’t bring your children if they exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above.
We are doing all we can and will continue to do so as we receive information. God is in control, and that is where our hope should ultimately be grounded. But we will also press forward and do what we can to help slow the spread of this virus. We want to avoid causing more angst for an anxious world. This is an opportunity for Christians to trust God and stand out. But we also want to be cautious and wise so we don’t contribute to the problem.
Let us know if you have any questions or helpful advice.
For God’s Glory Together,
This was how we honored so many at our annual Thanksgiving meal on November 24, 2019.
Opening remarks and reading of Psalm 116:12-19
- First, notice that the Psalmist emphasizes calling upon the name of the Lord (13, 17) in worship (13-14) and thanksgiving (17)
- Second, notice that he does so in the presence of all God’s people (14 and 18).
- So, I want to thank God for our salvation in Jesus.
- But I want to thank God for you all, and I want you to be thankful for each other and what it means to be a church that serves and loves each other for God’s glory through Jesus Christ.
A FEW QUALIFYING THOUGHTS:
- We may have forgotten someone. If we have, please let us know.
- We did not include AWANA in this because Jill already does a good job of recognizing leaders for years served.
- These mentioned are those who have served continuously (making it easier to count).
- If you used to serve, but don’t anymore, we appreciate you. God knows. I trust you will appreciate that others are being honored for their continued faithfulness to build up this local body.
- Charlie Cooksey – from the beginning for 22 years +
- 5 Years – Ben Burnsed
- 15 Years – Charles Cox
- 5 Years – Angie Delahoussaye *, Desiree Burnsed *, Elizabeth Ziegler, Teresa Moss
- 7 Years
- Allison Smith
- 8 Years
- Rhondalyn Richardson, Dawn Schrock
- 9 Years
- Julie Ray
- Lauren Mills *
- Amanda Rasmussen
- Jessica and Jerod Cottom *
- 10 Years
- Stephanie Ochsner *, Ron Delahoussaye *
- 13 Years
- Suzanne Moore, Ben and Erika Brown
- 14 Years
- Carla Nelson
- Christy Shuman *
- Sarah Jones
- Lacey Prentice
- 18 Years
- Jadi and Mike Gibbs *
- 22 Years and still going
- Bobbie and Lonnie Daugherty, Micki Rogers
* denotes they serve every Sunday
CORE GROUP TEACHERS/FACILITATORS
- 5 Years – Lonnie Daugherty and Jon Cunningham
- 8 Years – Kevin Moore
- 10 Years plus – Kevin and Brenda Zacharias and The Rogers
- 5 Years – Kevin Moore and Ryan Smith
- 7 Years – Tyson Ochsner and Kevin Zacharias
- 10 Years – Russ Ingram
- Cayton Jones and Ron Delahoussaye – 7 years
- Curtis Kinsey – 9 years
- David Hatfield – 14 years (David was a part of the group of first deacons)
- Greg Webb – 22 Years and still going
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MINISTRY
- 5 + Years – Dan Newman, Carla Nelson, Mark Schrock, Curtis and Nancy Kinsey, Julie Ray, Kayley Mills, Chris Timmons
- The Nelson Family – 7 years
- Charles Cox and Scott Farrington – 12 years
- 8 Years – Sarah Jones
- 10 Years + – Micki Rogers and Lonnie Daugherty
SINGING WORSHIP MINISTRY
- 5 Years
- Ben Burnsed, Colby Bennett, Dana Duell
- 10 Years
- Ben Ehrlich, Toby Angell
- 15 Years
- Karen Lemley, Julie Farrington, Veronica Heisler
- 7 Years – Bruce and Janet Barringer
- 8 Years – Tonya Ingram
- 6+ Years – Dawn Schrock
- 9 Years – Dana Baker and Bobby Luttrell
- Tammy Ramsey – 10 years
- Mindy Hardy – 15 years
- Ryan Smith – 15 years
Again, I hope we did not forget anyone, but I suspect we did. And I am sure there are many who have served our faith family in untold ways; by giving regularly, serving in temporary positions, etc. As I said before, God knows. But it is always good for us to honor each other in Christ. I am glad there are so many we can honor in our faith family.
Every morning I have the joy of taking my children to school. Bella gets dropped off first. Elijah is second. Luke is dropped off a little later at the high school. Right before they get out of the car I say to them: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it and make the most of it. I love you. Have a great day.” I try to make it a point to say this every day. Some days I even sing it. But that usually hurts my message instead of helps it.
This morning I declared my daily dose of encouragement to Elijah. He responded: “I know dad. I’ve got it. You don’t have to keep telling me over and over.” To which I responded: “I do have to say it over and over, and I will continue to do so because it is one of the most important things I can tell you. I want you to know and get this.”
As I was driving off I realized: “I am just starting to get to him. He is hearing it. It is sinking into his mind and heart.”
I’ve heard it said that when a leader/teacher/parent gets tired of saying something, then the people listening are just starting to hear it and get it. But I say that when our children are tired of hearing it, we have truly started to influence and teach them. When it seems to get old to them, it is just starting be real and truly take hold.
What true and life-changing language do you consistently say over and over to shape the mind and heart of those you love? Don’t give up. Be consistent and you will get to them. They will let you know when you have.
It was one of those up-and-down Mondays that pastors sometimes face with above-average discouraging moments. But the Lord was gracious and He encouraged me in an unlikely way; a church member unexpectedly came to tell me she might be leaving for another church.
The truth is, most of the time when people leave your local church for another local church, it stings. It is unpleasant. It can be really discouraging. But this sister came and told me she was considering leaving and I considered it to be good. As a matter of fact, it brought me joy.
Are you confused yet?
In our Elder’s meeting the day before, I had mentioned to my fellow pastors that I had not seen the aforementioned woman in a while and asked them if they had seen her. They said they had not and so I told them I would contact her during the week. So when I heard a knock on my office door and learned that she had come to see me, I was glad to see her.
She came to tell me that she had been visiting another church during the summer. She went out of her way to say she loved Eagle Heights and had grown a lot during her time with us. It was apparent she was sincere in her affirming words.
She went on to explain her daughter’s family had committed to another church and that she was attending with them. And while she still wanted to gather with Eagle Heights, she really wanted to enjoy the season of experiencing church with her grandkids. She wanted to have conversations with them about reading the Bible and following Jesus. Though she wasn’t one hundred percent sure she would be leaving Eagle Heights, what I heard her saying to me was that she was going to another church for good reasons. She wasn’t leaving disgruntled. She wasn’t mad at anyone. She wasn’t upset as a consumer. She just saw an opportunity to be a part of what God was doing in the life of her family.
She let me know that she was worried about having this conversation. She was concerned about whether she could come back to Eagle Heights if she left. I assured her that she could come back and that I was happy for her and her family. I thanked her for doing the hard thing and coming to me to let me know what she was thinking and doing.
It’s never easy when someone leaves your local faith family, even though they still might be a part of the Universal Church Family. But if this woman does end up leaving, how can I be upset? How can I not be glad for her? How can I not be joyful about the way she handled it.
I only wish that more people would leave this way. She told me she might be leaving, and when I found out why, my discouragement was turned to joy.
When preaching, should pastors call out false teachers by name for the protection of their local church?
As is our most consistent practice of preaching, our church has been working through First and Second Peter. Chapter two of Peter’s second epistle focuses on exposing and excoriating false prophets and teachers. The picture that Peter paints is not a positive and encouraging one.
A cursory reading of the New Testament makes it evident that false teaching was not only a problem for the churches Peter was addressing, and therefore, it’s no surprise that false teachers and their teaching continues to be a problem today. Satan is a deceiver, and he deceives people and uses the deceived to deceive more people. It’s what he does. Peter was protecting the sheep (1 Peter 5:1-5) by letter and aimed to bring these dangerous teachers and their doctrine into the light. Shouldn’t present-day preachers and teachers follow Peter’s example?
But here’s the rub – well, it can be a rub for some. Should preachers today call out false teachers by name when they preach? Should they publicly expose enemies of Jesus during the sermon? Or should they just teach what is right, what is wrong, and let the audience sort through who qualifies as a false teacher and leave the prosecuting by name to God?
Here are a few of my thoughts and convictions:
- Even if I am convinced someone is a false teacher, I am often hesitant to call them by name. I have a few reasons for this. First, I don’t want it to be easy for those who are listening, to Google a name I mention and begin to listen to their teaching. In other words, I don’t want to advertise for false teachers. Second, I wouldn’t want this to be a stumbling block to a first-time guest who already sees Christians and churches as overly harsh and critical. And, yes, I know that the gathering is for believers, but I want to remove as many barriers to the gospel as possible so that the gospel might be heard without hindrance. And, yes, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe both of these are excuses because I care too much about pleasing others.
- Additionally, we live in a hyper-critical culture of name-calling and condemnation. Look, false teachers are real and eternally dangerous, but not everyone that is in error is a full-blown charlatan and destined for hell. I am under no illusion that I have everything doctrinally right. But not all error is the same. Some error(s) is the kind that will cause Jesus to say to you: “I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:23) Though you were certain you did. So we must be extra careful that our secondary doctrinal disagreement with someone is not portrayed as though it is a matter of first importance; an essential theological matter. As the difference between heaven and hell. But I also don’t want to make hyper-critical disciples with my preaching leadership.
- On the other hand, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we see that the Holy Scriptures called out Christian impostors, betrayers, and false teachers by name. Recognizing that the original manuscripts didn’t have chapters and verses, an example of calling out gospel troublemakers by name is found in Second Timothy. In 2 Timothy 1:15, Paul names Phygelus and Hermogenes for abandoning him in Asia. In chapter two, Paul identifies the disease-like teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus. In chapter three, he remembers Jannes and Jambres who opposed God, Moses, and “the truth” in Exodus. In chapter four, he singles out Demas, who loved the present world over the eternal Christ, leading him to abandon Paul. And finally, Paul identifies “Alexander the coppersmith” who did Paul much harm, saying the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. In four chapters, Paul calls people by names five times to warn Timothy about those who have turned their back on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unrepentant, public sin was publicly condemned by the Holy Spirit and Paul.
- Finally, consider that if someone who lived in your neighborhood was a known child predator and sexual offender, would you only teach your children what good people look like and what bad people do wrong? Or as the primary protector and shepherd of your children, would you say, “Don’t go near that house. The man who lives there is very dangerous.” Further, would you not describe him? And if you and your children knew his name, would you not tell them to stay away; to avoid even the proximity of his presence? If you knew who it was that could damage and even destroy your children, would you not give very specific descriptions and warnings? I would be as precise as possible to maximally protect my children. I know that pastors aren’t parents and church members aren’t children, but isn’t it a pastor’s job to know the dangers of the day and to know the people who peddle them? Is it loving for a pastor to allow false teaching in the name of Jesus to seduce the sheep he is to watch over and will give an account for (Hebrews 13:17)?
There is a reason so many fall prey to false teaching. Error is insidious, and it looks deceptively like the truth. It is true that all truth is ultimately God’s truth. But when you have a half-truth posing as a whole truth in the name of Jesus, it can only be classified as a total and deadly untruth (JI Packer). And concerning those teachers and preachers who seem to be saying some really good things that may even be helpful to some degree, but also say some questionable things about essential, gospel truths, wouldn’t it be better to stick with the people who are teaching us the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
What I know for sure is that people have strong opinions about this question. What do you think?