Summary: Can you ever challenge a preacher and can you ever righteously remove him?
I just read an article entitled, “Rejecting God-Ordained Leadership in the Church.” The writer was suggesting that we should not resist even ungodly leadership in the Church because God will deal with them. Having seen the abuse of pastors by congregations, I could easily amen this. I think I understand his point as God dealt with Saul, Phineas and Hophni and even with Ananais and Sapphira for lying to God’s man. He used this verse as his proof text.
“And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” – 1 Samuel 8:7
I don’t think the passage used is applicable in all cases or even for Ananias and Sapphira. You definitely do not want to be a hindrance and lead a rebellion against a pastor that is doing a good work just because he preached something you did not like because it went against your pet viewpoint or nailed your secret sin. God will indeed deal with you about that. Unless the pastor is teaching heresy or involved in some sin you don’t have much ground for seeking his removal, but you can always remove yourself from that church. If you leave, do it in a Christian manner.
On the flip side, I know men who love to use that article’s concept saying “Don’t go up against God’s man” or “Touch not my anointed” to get away with rude comments and less than righteous actions. They wound people and split churches and make neighborhoods distrust anyone from their church. When addressed biblically through Matt 18 or 1 Ti 5:19, they attack the people bringing the grievance as carnal or trying to control the church. If they proceed to 1 Ti 5:20 it can be a rough time even if the erring pastor does leave or is removed.
When a man is truly called of God and in His will then he need not fear any Absalom or Diotrephes. But it is the duty of the people to remove a leader who is not leading as an under-shepherd, but as a Lord over the flock. This is for the sake of the Church, the lambs and the world that is watching. If a man is removed unjustly then God will take care of that man and the ones responsible. Sometimes the removal is a reward by God for being faithful in a hard place and His judgment on the church writing Mene Mene Tekel or Ichabod on the doorposts.
You do not want to touch God’s anointed, but we have far too many self-anointed and man anointed, even well intended, men that are scattering the flock as much as the wolves. Sometimes it takes much discernment to know who is who and often it does not require much at all. It just takes courage to deal with the situation. It needs to be handled correctly and with meekness, but failure to handle it is not biblical or healthy for the Church. Maranatha!