Preaching with people you have differences with

How do you go and preach in an environment where the pastor and the church have a very different understanding of theology, celebrity, and ministry philosophy than the one you live and proclaim?

After a couple of days at the Hillsong conference, I asked the question on Twitter:

I was prompted to ask this after hearing one speaker in particular, however, until I can clearly articulate my reasons for disagreement, I won’t go into more detail.

Let me state two things straight up:

  1. No one’s asked me to speak at their conference, let alone the Hillsong conference!
  2. We have theological differences with everyone. If you were only to share the platform with someone you agreed with entirely, you’d be preaching alone.

So the question isn’t necessarily one of complete agreement, but the areas (if any) in which agreement is essential. Obviously, we want to agree on the foundational truths of the Christian faith, but what if we feel there is an unhelpful distortion, emphasis, or lack of emphasis?

One person responded on Twitter:

“An opportunity to preach in front of 20K with solid teaching, bring it on.”

However, is there a risk that by preaching with others you don’t agree with, you are implicitly endorsing their ministry?

I’m still thinking through these questions, and I’m very cautious about being critical online.If you have some wisdom, I’d love to hear it.

I was encouraged by this sermon from Matt Chandler, preaching at Elevation Church – a church very different to his own. Justin Taylor:

“How do you go and preach in an environment where the pastor and the church have a very different understanding of theology, celebrity, and ministry philosophy than the one you live and proclaim? I thought Matt Chandler showed how in this talk at Elevation Church pastored by Steven Furtick. It’s a combination of boldness, winsomeness, and gospel proclamation.”

Watch it:



  • Dominic Steele

    Steve, I think this is a wisdom judgement. 

    As I’ve made these decisions I’ve weighed up the opportunity (to preach Christ) against the cost (of what one might be seen to be endorsing – and the spiritual risk to others that this perceived endorsement might entail).

    In my earlier years of ministry (when my endorsement was not worth as much) I thought there was more opportunity and less cost.

    More recently (since Introducing God was published) when my endorsement came to carry a tiny bit more weight I have been a little more cautious and said no to a few things.

    Incidentally, we have the same issue with what we allow our church building to be used for.  

    I’ll be interested to see what others think

  • Melody

    Philip Jensen refused to appear on 3 episode panel for Compass (ABC) for this same reason…the panel was to consist of himself, a catholic priest and some other religious leader.
    He strongly believes that by appearing together you are endorsing other belief systems that are in error to the truth of the Gospel…having thought about this long and hardapplying the Romans  rule…what is sin to you and you do is counted as sin etc …is the only biblical yard stick I can come up with

  • Steven Kryger

    A friend replies via email: 

    “Always remember – when in doubt, don’t! And The first “no” is the easiest to give.Unfortunately history is littered with instances of naive involvement with ministries with a very different theology from mainstream evangelicalism and the speaker’s involvement being used by that ministry for less than honourable ends. Often this is done out of unthinking enthusiasm, but you do live to regret accepting and speaking when you then see what they do with the fact that you were  happy to be on their platform.On the other hand, there may be a particular mission you have in speaking – like a lecturer teaching in a non- evangelical college and seeking to change it from within. But that’s few of us.I want to come at the question from another angle.  I think we must first ask:  what effect on the people I am caring for and responsible for will my speaking at X have?  Will it be positive or negative, will it lead to their maturing in Christ or will it be a huge problem to them? I must not be the cause of others’ stumbling! It’s not only what I teach but the example I set which is followed and I need to make this as clear and non-confusing as possible.”

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