Do I Have to Agree With My Pastors?
There can be benefits when you don't.
For four years, my family attended a hyper-Calvinist church. It was Calvinism on steroids. I disagreed with a lot of what they believed, and one point in particular was too much for me to swallow. They believed that God didn’t love everyone. Traditional Calvinists believe that not everyone has equal opportunity to be saved, but these guys took that belief a step further. We had loads of conversations with the pastors on this particular issue.
You might be asking yourself: Why did you attend this church for four years if you didn’t agree with the pastors’ teaching? The simple answer: We felt that this particular church was where God had planted us.
This is an extreme example, but I believe you don’t have to agree with your pastors on everything. I believe, as long as your pastor adheres to the foundations of what it means to be a pastor and if you sense God has directed you to a particular church, you can feel peace about going there. (If you’re unclear about the foundations of being a pastor, Titus 1:5-9 has a good list for you. You could easily summarize it like this, though: Your pastor should love God, earnestly search Scriptures and display the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives.)
More than just accepting your differences, there are actually some hidden opportunities available to you when you don’t agree with your pastors on everything.
Going to a church where you don’t agree down the line can do the following:
1. It will show you a unique perspective on God.
One of our criticisms of hyper-Calvinism was, “How can a good God not love everyone?” Our pastor’s perspective, though, was, “How can a good God love anyone? If God is good and can’t allow evil, how could He allow fallen man to be part of eternity?”
While it didn’t convince us of our pastor’s stance, it showed us a unique perspective on God. We got a bigger picture of how amazing the concept grace actually is. When you can see your pastor’s perspective on an issue where you disagree, I believe you have the opportunity of seeing a new facet of God’s infinite character. The disagreement actually can expose you to truth, even if you never fully agree with your pastor.
2. It will encourage you to dig deeper into the Word.
Another by-product of attending a hyper-Calvinist church was that it forced us to search the Scriptures. The pastoral team actually had a pretty strong case for the way they believed, which made my family read the Bible—really read.
Disagreement should push you to search more. If it causes you to get red-faced and combative, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, you should grab a study Bible and see what Scripture says about the issue. You might be surprised to find you’re wrong. Or you might not change your mind, but you’ll probably start seeing how your pastors can see it the way they see it. Regardless, anything that pushes you toward God and toward His Word will only benefit you in the long run.
3. It will teach you how to love in spite of differences.
Finally, one of the greatest hidden options we found in attending this church led by pastors we disagreed with was that we learned to love them, even in our disagreement. Though we didn’t see eye-to-eye on theology, we were arm-in-arm as fellow believers. The few things we disagreed on were minor compared to all the areas where we did agree. We could love them through it all. As the saying goes, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Now, when I meet someone whose theological stance is different than my own, I’m eager to learn from them. It doesn’t turn into an argument. It turns into a brotherly exchange of perspective. We can debate our differences, never fully agree with each other, but still leave the table with a hug.
You don’t have to agree with your pastors on everything. Essentials matter. But on the nonessentials, you can still support their vision for what God has called them to do. You can love and cheer them on despite the differences.