There are some pretty astonishing statistics out there with regards to the current demise of the church. Leaders falling into moral failure – congregants uprising and revolting… Church doors slamming shut by the thousands each and every year. When we hear the stuff that is going on in churches – we sit with mouths gaping open in shock and then wag fingers at those we feel are to blame.
Just like in world, in politically unsound countries, immoral – ungodly places… change their hearts and you’ll change the world, and who is the only person who can do that? God. How does He get His message across? Through His messengers (leaders / spiritual parents) who in turn teach His children.
I’m going to focus this post – the finger pointing post – from the angle of someone who is in a leadership role and surrounded by leaders and close to those who are following. (I spent 20 years on the church goers side and 12 on the front lines.)
Let me start this off by saying, followers follow… it’s the leaders job to lead. In the absence of good leadership – followers take over and that’s when you have a problem.
He created this beautiful institution – modeled after the earthly family which we know was modeled after the heavenly family.
We’ve become afraid of strong leadership, calling it control or abuse (because of the legitimate demise of a few). No use is not the answer to abuse, we need proper use. Just like the debate over spanking…
I’m reminded of a seriously sad story about a pastor friend of my hubby’s. He was placed into leadership of the church after the original pastor who planted it, left only a year into it. The church was in trouble, it wasn’t going anywhere. Strife abound… problems left, right and centre. Shortly after going there, Steve heard God tell him to shut the church down. Why would God want something like that? Because it wasn’t started in the right spirit – the denomination did it out of their own decision and strength and not God’s (there’s more behind the scenes we know but doesn’t need to be repeated). He did it but had a hard time along the way. I asked my hubby about the details and the burden Steve felt was because the denomination heads didn’t like what he did and didn’t believe what they had started — God would stop. The burden – of what his leadership saw as failure – became too great. It totally and completely destroyed him. Here he was a pastor in a large denomination, here to close a church not to build it up and no support from his leaders what so ever. He committed suicide shortly thereafter – his wife found him in their barn.
We stand wondering why 4000 churches start up every year in the US but 7000 close. Let me take a stab in the dark… Was it God who called them to start it in the first place? I know many churches who were from a split not a plant, we call them, “splants”. They started up because of a disagreement either between leadership or between the pulpit and the pew. I’ve heard of churches starting up because someone wasn’t getting enough “air time”, not enough exposure or time in the spot light, up front preaching. “I could do so much better than Pastor such and such.” Wrong spirit to start a church if you ask me.
I’ve heard kids in Bible college say that they picked “youth pastor” as an occupation because they didn’t know what else to do, or it sounded cool or because they wanted to get paid to have fun. I’ve heard adults come out of Bible college in such disillusionment about what it is actually like to lead a church. They think it’s easy work! Not in it because they heard God calling them to lead but because they saw it as a job.
I also know that the way the majority of churches in North America are organized is so not biblical. Denominations where the pastor is as easily fired as he is hired. Pastors in these structures have little to no authority, actual biblical authority where they can bring change into situations, discipline and disciple properly because they could and most like would be fired. Who wants to stir the pot when your hand could get bit off? Or won’t say anything or stand up to those who abuse those in leadership because the leaders are afraid of loosing congregants. Less church goers mean less money. A church where “the board” who has been voted in has more power than the pastor is diabolical. Most Pastors are under such scrutiny and manipulation which in my books is equal with witchcraft. Whose fault is this? It would never have taken place in the first place if leaders had remained leading.
It’s a question of which came first – the chicken or the egg.
I have more to say on the subject but that’s enough for today.