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I do not advocate the ridiculous notion that “everything rises and falls on leaders”; nor do I argue that “our congregations will never rise above their leadership.” God is sovereign over His creation, and if He can bring about a Samuel in spite of Eli, a David in spite of Saul, a Martin Luther in spite of the Catholic Church, etc. then He can still raise up mature Christians in the midst of terrible preaching, heresy, immoral examples, etc. However, we must admit that God’s scriptural emphasis is on elders being the mature examples in His church, ensampling what Christ-likeness looks like in individual, family, and communal lives.
With this understanding, I want to briefly comment on the importance of pastoral example in sharing the gospel with his surrounding community. If he is a “coward on his porch,” then he will likely produce “cowards in the pew.” A pastor cannot merely preach evangelistically; he cannot preach about reaching the lost and expect his people to carry out maturity beyond what he himself is living on a daily basis. If a pastor is not intentionally evangelistic in his own community outside of his church walls; if he is not taking the name of Jesus with him verbally as he daily lives, then his people probably will not either. Thus, a pastor that is a coward on his porch will likely produce cowards in the pew regardless how passionate he is about the Great Commission; for, if he is genuinely passionate about the Great Commission, it will be obvious from both his pulpit and his porch.