Are Preachers More Like Lawyers or Doctors?


In our pastoral training program Training National Trainers, we often illustrate one of the Dig & Discover Hermeneutical Principles called “Asking Good Questions” by contrasting the way doctors and lawyers operate.

lawyer-preacherThe illustration goes as follows: A lawyer starts with a conclusion (whether a person is innocent or guilty) then sets out to prove it. Sure, he may look at all the facts, but he emphasizes only those facts that will help win the case and downplays those that will jeopardize it. He starts with a conclusion then points to, or proceeds to, the facts. Preachers can often act this way as well by imposing their preconceived ideas on the biblical text instead of letting the biblical text shape their outlook.

doctor-preacherA good medical doctor, on the other hand, asks many questions about the symptoms, makes a thorough examination, asks more questions still, then arrives at his conclusion, the diagnosis, and ultimately decides on a treatment. Even then, further investigation may sharpen or alter his prior conclusions. He starts with the basic facts then proceeds to a conclusion. Preachers should be like doctors and let Scripture give the diagnosis and lead to the substance of their messages.

In the video above, Allan, one of the men we train in Honduras, shared how much this illustration changed his perspective about studying the Bible and preaching. (He shares at 1:10-2:05 in the video.) You can read his words below.

“All this teaching and all this presentation makes me search my own heart. Another thing I learned that … every pastor was like ‘wow!’ was when Paul was talking about how the lawyer operates and how a doctor operates…

The way that [Bible study] is done mostly in Honduras, is that we draw a conclusion and then we start looking for things that support our conclusion (what a lawyer does). A doctor asks all the questions and [understands] details first so he can arrive at the conclusion. That is something the pastors said they hadn’t heard before. If they hadn’t heard it, they hadn’t done it.”


“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

All part of training pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart!

Encouraged to Encourage: A Glimpse Into How God’s Word Transcends Culture

encouraged-to-encourage

A recent training session for Central Asian pastors left one pastor, named Stan*, clearly agitated.

He, and he alone, had been chosen time and again to provide encouragement for each of his peers after they presented a five-minute practice sermon.

The look on Stan’s face made it look like he was thinking, “Why do you keep making me do this!?”

Even though he’s the president of a major denomination and a leader of leaders, Stan struggles to provide encouragement partially due to his cultural background. Providing encouragement is not natural or common among his people.

He reluctantly stumbled through giving encouragement as a result. As our study of 2 Timothy continued, his heart began to soften.

Paul’s message in 2 Timothy was basically, “Don’t give up Timothy! Keep going in ministry preaching the God-breathed Word, and God will sustain and reward you!

After a session that covered 2 Timothy 3:10-12 concluded, Stan stood up (a cultural sign of respect) without being called on and confessed,

“I’m really convicted by God’s Word. I’ve been struggling to give encouragement, but that’s what I’ve seen Paul do to Timothy in God’s Word. And if God’s Word is giving us encouragement, we need to do it for each other as well.”

This was an A-Ha! moment for Stan–a moment we see time and again as God speaks through His Word in the Training National Trainers program.

Stan now knows God’s profound desire for pastors to encourage other pastors in the ministry–and wants to be used by God to encourage others just like Paul encouraged Timothy.

This proved to be a watershed moment for both Stan and his group. After hearing a leader like Stan share his struggle and new desire to encourage others, his peers were moved to encourage as well.

*(Stan’s real name has been changed due to security issues.)


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A Prayer for a God-Honoring Work Life

Prayer-for-a-God-Honoring-Workday

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

Father, I come before you thankful that you have made work a part of life and given me the opportunity to glorify you in my work. Thank you that I can work hard and go to bed tired each day. Thank you for the good days and the difficult ones, and for the gifts you have given me to help this world be a better place through my work.

While I know work is good, I also know our work today isn’t what you intended and is often hard and frustrating. We all know sin’s consequences: toilsome labor, injustice, and trials caused by work; and also the pain of wanting work but not finding it. May these painful situations drive me to a deeper longing for the return of Christ and consummation of all things–including work.

May the gospel shape my work habits and attitude. Help me avoid the dual dangers of not working enough (laziness) and working too much (making work an idol). Help me to be a humble, teachable, hardworking, and complaint-free employee, even when doing the mundane tasks I’d rather avoid. May I work in faith and be motivated by a love for You and a love for those whom my work benefits.

Establish the work of my hands by helping me to be productive, patient, focused, and insightful. Keep me from distractions and from technology hindering my work instead of helping it. May your Spirit lead me in my work and help me to be joyful, creative, productive, and worshipful–constantly reminding me of your love and that you’re the reason I have breath in my lungs. Teach me to align my work, family, church life, and rest in a way that would maximize your glory and allow me to bear the most fruit for your kingdom.

Cause my work and attitude to adorn the gospel and shine the light of Christ into this dark world. Help me bless my workplace by living a salty, gospel-worthy life in front of my watching coworkers and help me honor my boss as I honor You.

Make my heart worship you and enjoy you throughout the day, knowing that you are the reason for breath in my lungs and the One I am really serving.

And as I work, fix my eyes on Jesus and His finished work on the cross that gave me treasure I could not earn, rest that I could not otherwise experience, and a living hope that will fuel me to work for the glory of God.

Esta oración está disponible en Español.

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Photo Update: Laying Groundwork for a Movement In Honduras

I (Paul Adams) just returned from Honduras. This trip was not a normal one — we, ourselves, didn’t do any training; rather, we watched some of the guys we’re training pass on the training to other pastors. My colleague, Patricio Paredes, and I also met with the board of a denomination — our partner for the training we’re doing in Honduras. And we also got to visit two other pastors we’re working with.

My first stop was to visit one of the pastors in our ongoing training. Omar looks young, but I was able to witness his strong, yet humble, leadership among the other pastors he’s passing the training on to. (God’s work in Omar has been featured on the blog before). Being in his church, meeting his family, and eating meals at his kitchen table gave me a clearer perspective of who this pastor is who has become a friend.

paul-omar

Omar and I in front of his church. We were about to catch a bus to attend a denominational board meeting in another city.

patricio-principles

My colleague, Patricio Paredes, arrived, and we met with our partners in Honduras — the board of a denomination that invited us to come do training with their pastors. Since we are halfway through our 4-year program there, we wanted to make sure they were thinking strategically about how to continue to spread the training throughout their country after we hand things off to them.

looking-at-principles

We introduced them to some training materials I had just finished working on before I left on this trip. (See our Dig and Discover Hermeneutical Principles Booklet.)

standing-outside

Next, Patricio and I traveled about 5 hours to a church where three of the pastors we’re training led a training for other pastors.

three-brothers

These three brothers (our students) – Wilver, Jorge, and Armando – have been passing on the training they’ve received to a 2nd generation of pastors in their region.

mats

The bedding arrives. Pastors who came to the 3-day training slept on these mattresses at night in the church building.

studying-mark-together

We studied through the book of Mark. This group of pastors from the surrounding region have been coming to these 3-day trainings twice a year — and some of them are even passing the training on to a 3rd generation of pastors and church leaders.

teaching-mark

Here is an action shot of Armando, who is a gifted teacher, leading his training. There was friendly and helpful interaction as we explored the message of Mark’s Gospel.
one-on-one-guidance

Patricio giving one-on-one guidance. This kind of interaction makes these workshops really special.

reading-the-bible

It’s exciting to see the pastors “dig and discover” what God’s Word says.

jorge-leading-biblical-theology-christ

Jorge taught a session on Biblical theology – seeing how a passage or theme fits within the overall story and message of the Bible. Here, the group was getting at the significance of Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ!” by going back to understand what “Christ” meant — examining key passages in the Old Testament that spoke about God’s King (the “Annointed One” = “Messiah” = “Christ”) who would come to rule and reign.

whole-2nd-gen-group

Here is the group of pastors who were being trained by those we are training.
debrief

After the workshop, Patricio and I spent time with the guys evaluating the training and doing some coaching. Watching them do training was also an evaluation of our training, helping us see what is transferring well and what we need to clarify or give greater emphasis to.

jorge-home

We had the opportunity to get to spend a lot of time with Jorge in his home – hearing his thoughts, getting to know his family, seeing how God had shaped his life and ministry through the Training National Trainers program.

on-the-way

Finally, we went up into the hills to visit Pastor Wilver’s home and church.

preaching

Pastor Wilver preaching in his church.

at-home

Pastor Wilver and I at his home.

wilver-home

Patricio and I with Pastors Jorge, Wilver, and Armando at Wilver’s home. It was good to see where our guys live, serve the Lord, and pass on training to others. Jorge and Omar (who is mentioned at the beginning of this post) were both selected by their denomination to be in-country coordinators for Honduras in charge of expanding the Training National Trainers program all over their country and beyond.

After watching these men encourage other pastors in a workshop, shepherd their own churches, even lead their own families, we were thankful for the men God has put in place to pastor His people in Honduras and to raise up other faithful leaders in the church there. We look forward to continuing our work and our friendship with these brothers and seeing how God will use them. For those who have partnered with us, thank you for investing in the work to make these things possible. May the Lord bless you for it!

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