Ethics: Pastor Opposes Tim Tebow Preaching

What would you do Wednesday!

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow gets a lot of news coverage because of the way he and the Broncos are winning football games and, more specifically, for his outspoken faith in Jesus Christ. It could be argued that his Christianity has become more of a story than the last minute wins.

Today’s hypothetical scenario might bring Tim Tebow to your church.

In an upcoming Sunday, your church is holding a youth outreach event that will be held after the morning service. The church youth have been encouraged to invite friends and neighbors.The whole church was asked to think of how they might contribute to this event.

Well, one of your fellow church members just happened to get connected with Tim Tebow through the friend of a friend. He was very excited about inviting Tebow, but he knew he would have to run it by church leadership. Tebow is willing to help with the youth event and would like to share his story and give an invitation at the end of the sermon to close the service.

In his excitement, this church member told a few people and the news spread like a wildfire throughout the congregation. Before he could contact the pastor about inviting Tebow, the pastor had already received a dozen calls.

Your pastor tells you that he will get back with you in a week with his decision about inviting Tebow. A week goes by taking with it dozens of phone calls to the pastor about his decision. Based on the phone calls the congregation does not seem to be of one mind about having Tebow speak.

The pastor decides to bring this decision to a congregational meeting since this is a congregational church and everyone is not on the same page. (I know, but stay with me here!)

At the meeting the pastor explains that as a congregation everyone does not agree that inviting Tebow is the best thing for their local body. He then states his personal reasons why he does not think Tebow is the best idea. After some research, your pastor explains that he does not agree with Tebow’s methods which include the following.

Inviting everyone to ask Jesus into their heart, decisional regeneration, an altar call, leading a sinners prayer and then proclaiming the salvation of those who recited the prayer welcoming them to the family of God.1

 It is time for the congregation to vote.

What would you do and why?

  • Trust the spiritual leadership of your pastor and vote no.
  • Vote no for other reasons.
  • Vote yes.
  • Try to get Tebow to your house for dinner.


  1. Edwards, Justin. Tim Tebow’s Christian Evangelism offers one example of such biblical criticism.

tagged as , , , in Church Issues,Culture

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kole December 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

I would trust my pastor. I would not let Tebow evangelize the youth at my church per say, but I would let him speak to them about holiness and hard work and other things that he gets right.

2 Rhology December 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

Yes, I just watched one of Tebow’s evangelistic talks yesterday and I was appalled. It is very very much like described here – Inviting everyone to ask Jesus into their heart, decisional regeneration, an altar call, leading a sinners prayer and then proclaiming the salvation of those who recited the prayer welcoming them to the family of God.

I wonder whether doing this would be sufficient:
Prep a team with handouts for all who come that explain THE LAW as well as the Gospel, link it in with what Mr. Tebow would say during his “sinner’s prayer” bit. Ie, “this is what Mr. Tebow will be referring to when he says ‘Jesus, thank You for saving me from my sin'”.
Prep more people to follow up tenaciously on those who come fwd, with the committed idea that we will need to make sure they understand THE LAW as well as the Gospel.

That will mitigate the negatives from Mr. Tebow’s talk.

Then I do my darndest to get Mr. Tebow for dinner and ask him to introduce the topic of the Law during his sharing talks. I’m sure he’d be willing to. It seems to me that it may never have occurred to him, really. So I prep a biblical presentation on the topic and plead with him to amend his talks. Then I hand him a DVD of Hell’s Best Kept Secret whenever the evening is over.

3 Josh C December 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

If the Pastor of a congregational church does not have final say on who speaks in his church, that church will have problems anyways.

Also, why does the Pastor not speak with the guest speaker about the church’s method of invitation beforehand and see if the speaker would allow the pastor to conduct any invitation/conclusion? It seems like there should be some phone calls happening before this is brought up as a vote to potentially divide the church (imagine a 100-1 vote with the 1 being the pastor!).

4 Justin Edwards December 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

Excellent theoretical dilemma you’ve presented, brother. It really puts things into perspective and hopefully those who may oppose my criticism will understand better the concerns after reflecting on what you have presented. I very much look forward to the responses!

5 Jason Karroll December 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I wouldnt invite him to my church, but I would invite him to dinner to hopefully explain the ways of God more thoroughly.

6 Brian Thornton December 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Well, I must say you surprised me. I thought the issue was going to be that people didn’t want him there because he played football on Sunday.

Unless I knew what specifically he was going to be saying (and had the ability to control/direct it), I would not let him speak. If his presentation would run counter to/undermine the church’s normal gospel message, it would be unwise to let him come speak, no matter who he is.

Also, the person who started this probably need to be talked to, as this whole thing blew out of control before it ever got leadership approval due to gossip.

7 Bill Kraski December 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I think Josh C hit the nail on the head with his response. There are all kinds of doctrinal variations between churches. If a speaker refuses to do an invitation to fit a particular church’s view or let them do the invitation, why is the church inviting him? Or, if his sermon goes against the church’s doctrinal views, why should he be there?

Secondly, why didn’t the pastor talk to the member and/or Tebow to clarify things before bringing it before the congregation? Was there perhaps a decision already made on his part, possibly out of some feelings of his authority being threatened, to present the opportunity in a less than favorable light? And certainly highlighting the disagreement is another negative.

I think the church member who had the contact made a mistake in saying anything to anyone before going to the pastor, as well. Especially since, as described, the invitation hadn’t even been offered or accepted.

In the end, this sounds like there are a lot of internal shortcomings within the church. Dealing with those needs to be taken care of much more than any differences in how Tim Tebow does things or how his beliefs in Christ are structured. Just my $.02.

8 Brian Thornton December 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Whether he can reach 10 or 10 million shouldn’t make any difference, should it? If he was a relatively unknown speaker with the same errors, should our decision be any different because of his lesser influence?

This is the caution I always have when it comes to big names who profess to be a Christian: many of us become influenced by the “influence” we think this big name will have (“just think of the impact…he/she could reach millions!”), and a lot of people use a big name professor of Christianity as some sort of validation for their own faith (i am not implying anyone here is doing that).

9 Brian Thornton December 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

No one said he was a heretic. But if the costs of being a godly influence on him are that he misleads those who come to hear him, I think that might be too great a cost.

10 Michael Coughlin December 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I agree with the other comments, but I’m too arrogant to “not comment.” (It appears)

But my general impression is that you would usually have a chance to talk to a speak about what it is they will be speaking about and try to set some parameters. One of the advantages of holding an event at your church is that you can pop in after and carefully, yet truthfully, correct error.

So assuming *I* was ever in this position, I’d jump at the chance to be able to speak with the man as Jason Karroll pointed out. Assuming that he wasn’t going to visit my house for dinner without a speaking invitation, I’d have to say “let’s bring the guy in” and I’d plan with my pastor that we would try to take the opportunity to share with him why we believe he has shared things that are not biblical and why those things are dangerous.

We live in a real world where a man like Tebow has a far reaching audience. I’d sacrifice a perfect conference for a chance to influence him. This is based only on the fact that I currently accept him as a brother. The argument I provided above would not apply to men like Osteen or even Rick Warren due to the fact that Osteen is not a Christian and Warren has already been publicly corrected enough that I wouldn’t waste my time with him.

11 Rhology December 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I believe that we should also consider that this hypothetical scenario gives me the possible opportunity to take Mr. Tebow aside, as I explained in my last comment, and God willing teach him the way of the Lord more fully.

He has a huge platform b/c of his fame. He has commendable boldness and an apparently untainted heart. With just a little adjustment, could he not reach tons of people with the great Gospel? I say we give that chance a long, hard look. It may indeed be the best thing in the long run.

12 Rhology December 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Yes, I think it makes a bit of a difference. The man is no heretic. He just has a lousy way of stating his convictions. If I get a chance to be a godly influence on him, I want to take it if the costs aren’t very great. And I don’t think they are.

13 Bill Kraski December 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I guess my question is this: Who decides what he’s teaching/sharing is misleading? Do we base it on denominational interpretation? Do we base it on evidence in the lives he shares the Gospel with? Do we determine there’s some preconceived formula? Or is God sovereign and no matter how much I think I know, I’m probably wrong about something. God is sovereign, omnipotent and omniscient. We’re not. Till that changes, I believe the Word says we have no right to judge another believer. We can share with them where our understanding differs from theirs. Note that I said our understanding, not our omniscience.

14 Joshua December 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Trust the pastor and the evidence of improper evangelism.

15 Mark December 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

It would seem wise to listen to your pastor’s advice and follow it.

I really like Rhology’s idea in his first comment. I also like the general idea of talking to Tebow privately about his methods, etc.

Josh and Bill, the situation is set-up so the readers can think through the dilemma. Things happen in churches in ways they shouldn’t and have to be dealt with. So just go with it, man!

16 Josh C December 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I just like to get to the root of the problem. The dangerous aspect of a situation like this isn’t as much about Tebow speaking at your church, but about how the disagreements are handled as a body. 🙂

I’d also convince Tebow that if he was serious about improving his QB game, he should request a trade to the NFC and get out of the Chiefs division.


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