Why leaders are a pain: Truth telling in the parish

There's a subtext to lots of sermons I hear, and some I preach: Discomfort is avoidable. Here's my formula. It's the promise of all bogus religion.

Recently I spent an hour with a young pastor who, six months after starting at a small-town church, discovered that the congregation was in greater difficulty—financially and demographically—than it had recognized.

“How do I tell them the truth without their hating me for it?” she asked.

We discussed strategies and issues of timing and presentation—much the same issues that a preacher confronts when preparing a sermon on a tough text. I was impressed with her determination to find a way to speak the life-giving truth that previous pastors had avoided.