This is a reposting from my blog CALLED TO PROCLAIM (currently of hiatus) from July 2016.  I trust it is still helpful.


Sooner or later most pastors are seized withe urge to rebuke.  Being nice is not good enough.  People are hearing messages clothed in graciousness and adorned with gentle prodding and they are not even remotely under conviction.  The Holy Spirit may be knocking at the door but the music of their denial is too loud to hear it.

Those of us entrusted with the Word of God know fully well that rebuking is one function we are to carry out.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3.16-17

We all know preachers who thrive on beating up on their flocks–who critique, criticize; who ignore any dimension of goodness and withhold encouragement.  And then we know of pastors who preach around every short-coming, rationalize away their peoples’ sins, and affirm peoples’ goodness to point of enabling mass denial.

When you see the need for rebuking and summon up the courage to do so, here are some things to remember as you craft that message,

  1. Make sure your rebuke comes from the Word of God and is appropriate to the situation. The rebuke should be for ignoring God’s standards and expectations–not your personal prejudices and your culture’s world view.
  1. Make sure that your motivation is God’s prompting not your frustration or impatience.  “Quick to listen, slow to anger, slow to speak.”
  1. Don’t rebuke a whole congregation for a few people’s disobedience.  Too many pastors fight personal battles from the pulpit.

4.Always provide a clear way to apply and embrace the truth.  Problems without solutions tend to provide frustration or worse.

  1. Remind the people that you are speaking the truth in love.  You are on their side and your rebuking them because they will not be able to be the persons God created and redeemed them to be. (Ephesians 2.10)

Do you have other words of counsel?

© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to For all other uses, contact Steve at 

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