One of the Apostle Pauls biggest challenges in the early church was in keeping the leaders of the newly founded Christian churches in line with Gods message. Some of those early leaders were simply drifting towards error, but some were becoming hostile. Paul had to take some of them to the woodshed to get things straightened out and he sure wasn’t bashful about it.The early church was simply a group of believers following Jesus command to spread the good news to all the world. It wasn’t a building. Their weren’t any church specific buildings for another 200 years. That command to the church still applies to us, despite of our inaction. Still, how did Paul know when a church leader was doing well or going astray? Because the leader was responsible for teaching the word of God. That’s a big statement, the leader was responsible for teaching the word of God. Someone didn’t get to be a Pastor or elder and hide. A leader was a teacher. That’s how you knew if their motivation lined up with Gods word. They had to come right out and tell you.
Fast forward 2000 years, how does it work now? One of the biggest surprises that I got when I returned to church life 20 years ago is that a typical evangelical Pastor has very little control over his church. His role as a leader is in name only. Bureaucracy runs the churches now. The people that run the show now are committees, councils, boards of dictators, etc.. Be honest, do you even know who those leaders are? Are they worthy of any leadership position or is their time be better spent in study? Often church bureaucracy is multi tiered so that very few even know who’s in charge of what. It helps to discourage hardcore believers from making any inroads or changes. So how do we even know what our leaders believe? They probably don’t teach or even attend Bible study or attend worship nights. Are they even reading and studying their Bible, or are they just giving God a quickie 10 minute devotional in the morn to feel holy? There are many very fine people in those positions and my intent is not to put them down. I’m grateful for their service. Still, I’ve found that some in those positions are prideful control freaks. I’ve known some that are just nuts, I mean really nuts! Listening in on a Pastors private conversations with other church members, snooping around town to see who’s visiting who and deciding who is allowed to fellowship with the pastor. That’s worse than our federal government! So what happens with those people? Nothing. Yet. There isn’t any accountability in church bureaucracy or any insulated holy huddle. Paul couldn’t do anything with them either, because they don’t teach, they scheme. They meet in secret. Even Jesus struggled with people snooping, scheming and trying to shut Him up because He didn’t follow orders. They were called Pharisee’s then. He called them a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs filled with dead mens bones. Today the hearts are the same, only the names have changed. Then again, Jesus and Paul really took them to the woodshed, didn’t they?
We need leaders that teach in some form and are accountable to the flock. How can we increase the amount of Kingdom men in churches if they see the punitive actions that are taken? Who needs that? Even better yet, take the death grip off your Pastor and let him preach the Word of God as he sees fit. The Pastors job is to be the leader, as Paul described it, not a spokesman for the board. The Pastors job is not to make us feel good about ourselves and bring in more paying customers. Its a crazy setup, the board chases out the hardcore believers and the Pastor is chastised for not bringing in the money donors. That’s what churchism brings in folks. The narrow-mindedness of looking inward and not outward like Jesus told us to do, is what’s bringing down churches. Its pretty stressful when you don’t follow church protocol. I guess that is what the early church was fighting too. Jewish church society had set up a system that became their god. Rules, regulations, and procedure overtook them and they became too justified in themselves to let God get in the way. Jesus rocked their world! I hope you are rocking yours!
I sure hope it isn’t happening to your body of believers. I hope you take the time to pray and fellowship with them. Pride and controlism are sins that are tempting them. Pray that they have soft hearts for Jesus’ Word and hard as a rock against sin. The Bible tells us to not forsake the fellowship of believers, so we have to get together as believers. Its not optional. Some days I wish that wasn’t in my Bible. Some days I think I could get along just fine without all that drama. Still, there are plenty of good faithful people there too. Jesus also commanded us, not if we felt like it, commanded us to share the good news of our Savior to the world. He is our King, not just when its fun, so we must continue to serve Him. Not inwardly to make ourselves feel good, while we hide in a building, but to the lost. There sure are plenty out there. Getting the good news of our Savior is the only hope they have. Don’t let some frustrated old wineskins in a building distract you. Put fresh wine in some fresh wineskins. The old will be gone soon and there isn’t much to replace them. Jesus is still my Lord, with or without the board. Pray and serve hard, friends