Matt Chandler is a very interesting young preacher from the Village Church in Dallas, Texas. He spoke at the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference in 2009. His church has grown rapidly over the last 10 years or so from a few hundred to 5000 or more, and three campuses. What he has to say to the modern church and to the modern-day preacher is what makes him so interesting to me. This guy is certainly not cut from the same mold as the typical SBC mega-church pastor, even though his church is growing very rapidly.
For starters, I recommend listening to this sermon he preached at Southern Seminary last week. Not the typical message you hear, for sure, from a SBC pastor of a large church. I'm not sure that the message was all that well received by the hearers, but it was one that needed to be preached. Very direct and hard-hitting about pastors getting into the ministry to promote themselves and to achieve Western success, ignoring the scriptures in Hebrew 11 that many will NOT have success (and will be devoured).
I will make a few comments on the sermon later, but wanted to share it with you hear on this site first, along with this quote Chandler used from Eugene Peterson's book, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity:
"I don't know of any other profession in the world that is quite as easy to fake as ours. For a long time, I have been convinced that I could take a person with a high school education, give him or her a six-month trade school training, and provide a pastor who would be satisfactory to any discriminating American congregation. The curriculum would consist of four courses.
Course I: Creative Plagiarism. I would put you in touch with a wide range of excellent and inspirational talks, show you how to alter them just enough to obscure their origins, and get you a reputation for wit and wisdom.
Course II: Voice Control for Prayer and Counseling. We would develop your own distinct style of Holy Joe intonation, acquiring the skill in resonance and modulation that conveys and unmistakable aura of sanctity.
Course III: Efficient Office Management. There is nothing that parishioners admire more in their pastors than the capacity to run a tight ship administratively. If we return all phone calls within twenty-four hours, answer all the letters within a week, distributing enough carbons to key people so that they know we are on top of things, and have just the right amount of clutter on our desk—not too much, or we appear inefficient, not too little or we appear underemployed—we quickly get the reputation for efficiency that is far more important than anything that we actually do.
Course IV: Image Projection. Here we would master the half-dozen well-known and easily implemented devices that that create the impression that we are terrifically busy and widely sought after for counsel by influential people in the community. A one-week refresher course each year would introduce new phrases that would convince our parishioners that we are bold innovators on the cutting edge of the megatrends and at the same time solidly rooted in all the traditional values of our sainted ancestors.
(I have been laughing for several years over this trade school training with which I plan to make my fortune. Recently, though, the joke has backfired on me. I keep seeing advertisements for institutes and workshops all over the country that invite pastors to sign up for this exact curriculum. The advertised course offerings are not quite as honestly labeled as mine, but the content appears to be identical—a curriculum that trains pastors to satisfy the current consumer tastes in religion. I’m not laughing anymore.)"
Link to Audio of Matt Chandler SBTS Sermon Nov 2009