Sermons to Avoid Preaching at Pastoral Installations
Updated: Mar 18
Preaching Jeremiah 3:15 is Bad Theology
Please, by the mercies of God, refrain from preaching Jeremiah 3:15 at the Pastor installation. This is probably the most misused scripture to justify a decision you can neither deny nor affirm. Further, doing so is simply bad theology for three (3) reasons. First, please read the fourteen (14) verses before, and those after. What you will discover is the only time God sends “a pastor after his own heart who will feed the sheep with knowledge” is when they return from backsliding. What has that to do with you?
Whatever you heard, and think you know about the congregation (or your preacher friend), you do not have all the information. It is also of note that Jeremiah was speaking to the Jewish captives, about a time of future restoration and nourishment. Theologically, there are certain promises which pertain ONLY to the Jewish people, and this is one (1) of them.
Even if there was an ounce of applicability, a backslidden congregation is not capable of choosing: “a man after God’s own heart”. Next, this text supposes many factors about the church of which you have little idea and even less truth. Third, did the Holy Spirit truly provide that text, or is it something you have read (or heard) others preach on this occasion? Since the Holy Ghost is incapable of misleading, your motivation is one (or both) of the latter. Further, has God confirmed He actually sent your preacher friend, or do you rely on “what you can see” of them over the years?
I am a Pastor, and we both know that just because someone: “uses Jesus’s name to gather people”, never means they are “gathering in his name”. I have known too many “hirelings” and “wolves” that have used Jeremiah 3:15 to justify their illegitimate Pastorate. Stay away from this text because there is no scenario where it is contextually, or applicably accurate.
Pastors are not Prophets
Invariably, you have heard the Pastor installation sermon: “as I was with Moses, so shall I be with you” (Joshua 1:5). This, again, is bad theology. Comparing church Pastors to either Joshua, or Moses, is unfair. Since it is bad doctrine to teach whomever proceeded your Pastor friend was “Moses”, there is no need to waste time explaining why your friend could not be Joshua! Let’s dismantle the first part of your “sermon” intent, and the second falls on its own.
First, there is no greater Prophet in scripture than Moses. His task was unlike any other person in the biblical narrative, and certainly not akin to a local church Pastor. Moses was a shepherd, yes, however, his primary task was being God’s direct spokesman to a few million people. No one else heard from God regularly, as did Moses, and that is not true in our time. You or I do not serve as “gateways” to God (as did Moses, Aaron, etc.)
Here are seven (7) more reasons why your Preacher friend is not “following” Moses, and therefore could not be Joshua:
1. Moses was a leader of a nation: your friend is a local shepherd, and has not even close to the same charge as the “Prophet Par Excellence” (Prophet of Prophets). His charge, according to Jesus, is to “feed His sheep”. Moses’ was much more expansive.
2. Moses was a “god” to a world leader: God told Moses he would make him a “god” to Pharoah. This would be like the Lord sending you to Joe Biden, or Donald Trump, and your authority exceeding theirs. You are a “servant”, and god to no one.
3. Moses performed history changing miracles: do you really believe your “laying on of hands” is the same thing?
4. Moses was the meekest man on Earth: sorry Brother Pastor, we have both known hundreds of US and I have only met one (1) Pastor who was, by gifting, “meek”. The rest only “act”. It doesn’t mean many are not humble, but meek? Hardly.
5. People needed Moses to experience God: according to the text, the “veil of the temple (tabernacle in Moses’ time) was ripped”. Do people really need us to access God?
6. Moses “killed” people (and ordered executions): I have only met a handful of Pastors who boldly confront, and root out sin, at great cost to themselves. Most of US (not me) teach it is “wrong to judge others”, so any boldness beyond this is unthinkable. Pastors are more concerned about keeping their job than pleasing God!
7. Moses was a Prophet: if you do not know the difference, again, better head back to school preacher!
In summary, this is simply bad doctrine to compare the newly installed Pastor to Moses or Joshua. Stop the false teachings, please.
Church Pastors are Not King David
Another often misunderstood pastoral installation sermon is titled: “A Man After God’s Own Heart” (1st Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). It is interesting that we are more ready to compare ourselves to King David than the Prophets who served him (Samuel and Nathan). Generation after generation, Pastors have been compared to Israel’s greatest king. Not the great Preacher/Prophets, but a King? This is part of the narcissism and hermeneutical ignorance in our churches. Although Pastors are not Prophets, it is false doctrine to suggest they cannot prophesy. This is where there is contextual “wiggle room” in making a comparison but it is quite narrow.
However, proclaiming a new testament Pastor: “a man after God’s own heart” is bad doctrine for another overarching reason. As New Testament preachers, God never indicated “why”, or by what qualifier, He chose US. Perhaps Jeremiah 3:15? Please read the first paragraph because that is simply error in your understanding. Who was Jeremiah writing to, and what was he writing about?
David is one (1) of the rare people who God revealed why He was chosen. As a matter of fact, we should be dead having been paid wages for sin according to scripture. Seriously brethren, can you honestly identify, as God identified David, even one (1) biblical reason He chose us? I surely cannot!
It is inappropriate to compare a new testament Pastor to an Old Testament King. The King did not have the anointing you have (Preaching), and you do not have his anointing. Sure, David prophesied, but his guides were Prophets. In a spiritual sense, you’ve taken a step down comparing yourself to a world leader! Avoid this non-sensical doctrine when preaching the Pastoral installation sermon.
Best Sermons for Pastoral Installations
Through prayer, study, and supplication, we should stick to the things that we know are both true and theologically sound. There is certainly applicability in the Old Testament for the New Testament church. I preach sermons from it all the time. However, there are many things I avoid with respect to church leadership.
For instance, we know that Jesus is our High Priest according to Hebrews chapter 5 and 6. And although the New Testament church has been given a priesthood, it is inappropriate to compare the New Testament priesthood to Old Testament Levitical priests. I have never heard a sermon comparing New Testament Pastors to an Old Testament priest. How, then, is it okay to compare a Pastor to an Old Testament Prophet or King?
Here are seven (7) theologically sound sermon topics for the installation service:
1. “A Life of Integrity” (Titus 2:1-10) - this letter, written by the apostle Paul, was to an appointed elder of a city named Titus. The main theme is that church leaders live with integrity. Since you do not know if God truly sent your preacher friend, except his word of course, this is both safe and appropriate to preach.
2. “Serving Others as They Serve You” (John 13:1-17) - Pastors are not unlike children of rich parents who are spoiled rotten. One (1) of the greatest heart breaks for me, as a Pastor, is people treating me as if I am better. We are, in all respects, called to be the church’s greatest servants not the “greatest served”. Great service requires great sacrifice as Jesus demonstrated on the cross. A God call Pastor will tell you this while wolves and hirelings (according to Jesus) will revel in making you their personal slaves. Direct enough?
3. “Don’t Get up off Your Knees” (1st Timothy 2:1-3) - this prayer was from Paul to a young minister named Timothy. The sheer scope of who should be prayed for, and why, is staggering! Stay away from trying to assign the Joshua warrior label and stick with what you do know, for sure, and that is a Shepherd should always pray.
4. “This is not a Game” (2nd Timothy 4:1-5) - While I have heard this preached, it was poorly done. The issue with a Pastor selecting who preaches the installation, is it is always a friend. These people rarely, if at all, speak the stomp down truth! When they do, it is warning him about “snakes in the church pew” and not where the real danger lies – from other Pulpiteers! A true sermon will warn the leader about all danger – not just that which will not offend the other “wolves” present.
5. “Be a Servant - Not a King” (1st Peter 5:1-4) - you will never hear this sermon preached at a pastoral installation! This is disregarded in favor of pleasant speech and feeding already present narcissism. Pastors are to be chief servants of the local church but invariably turn into tyrannical dictators.
6. “Feed Them and Don’t Feed ON Them” (Acts 20:28:33) - this is also a stark warning for the watered-down, pastoral church installation service. This kind of sermon can only come from a true Prophet of God, or someone’s Pastor of multiple decades. Unfortunately, the “grievous wolves” are usually the ones preaching the sermon at the installation! I just witnessed this at a pastoral installation six (6) months ago.
In summary, preach a sermon worthy of the moment! The Holy Ghost will guide you in all things so be faithful to the message. Do not veer to the left or right.
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