Chapter 56

What Authority Do We Have Anymore?

How to bridge the credibility gap

Time has changed the way people view pastors. The average preacher today is not going to make it on the basis of the dignity of his position.

A century ago, the pastor was looked to as the person of wisdom and integrity in the community. Authority lay in the office of pastor. The minister was the parson, often the best-educated person in town and the one to whom people looked for help in interpreting the outside world. He had the unique opportunity to read and study and often was the principal voice in deciding how the community should react in any moral or religious situation.

But today, the average citizen takes a different view of pastors and preachers. Perhaps we're not lumped with scam artists or manipulative fund raisers, but we face an Olympic challenge to earn respect, credibility, and authority.

In the face of society's scorn—or being relegated to a box labeled "private" and "spiritual"—many preachers struggle with the issue of authority. Why ...

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