What happens when the structural church follows a worldly business model?
The following is a list of comments and concerns from church members:
“He gets his way by intimidation and an arrogant use of power not permitted by New Testament pastors.”
When concerned members asked for a copy of the church’s bylaws, they were refused.
When members confronted the pastor asking for clarification of his actions, they were told, “If you don’t like it here; go find another church?” (Typical response from dictatorial leaders)
The pastor called those confronting his actions as “kooks, cowards, adversaries, servants of Satan, etc.,” during his preaching. (Deflection is a common tactic when the actions of authoritarians are called into question)
“For one, we allowed him to take over and gave him ultimate authority. That is not biblical. He treated godly men we loved like dirt and we did not stand up to him and hold him accountable.”
“No one could challenge or question him. He demanded absolute loyalty and conformity and he got it. We were stupid to allow it. Some of us were deceived into believing it was the right thing to do, because our attendance was up. He bragged about the baptisms and the giving. The Bible says God gives the increase, not the pastor and not any of the rest of us. I knew better and foolishly went along because on the surface it looked like we had success.”
No one man is the sole expression of the mind of the Spirit and no one individual has the authority from God to direct the affairs of the church.
The ability of a servant to guide the body of believers does not lie in ordering someone around, but by obtaining their voluntary consent. This is the nature of all authority among Christians, even that of the Lord himself! He does not force our obedience, but obtains it by love, expressed either in circumstantial discipline or by awakening gratitude through the meeting of our desperate needs.
The true authority of leaders in the church, then, is that of respect, manifested by their own loving and godly examples.
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Admonish? It is defined as: (To warn or notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness. To counsel against wrong practices; to caution or advise.)
The Scriptures reveal that any deviation from Godly examples produces weakness, division and strife. The present low state of many churches is testimony to the effects of ignoring, over a long period of time, God’s way of doing things.
A command structure of authority in the church that follows a worldly business model deprives the world of any demonstration of a different way, as evidenced by the examples of Jesus Christ, than the one it already lives by. The world sees no difference in the church, and can see no reason why they should change and believe the Scriptures.
A command authority inevitably produces resentment, repression, exploitation and, finally, rebellion. It injects Old Covenant law into the New Testament church operating under grace and the Scriptures teach us the law can never redeem or restore, but which must, by its very nature, condemn and repress.
The desire of the Lord Jesus Christ to show to the world a wholly new form of authority which is consistent with grace, not law, is nullified by a command structure among Christians, and the gospel of dying-to-live is denied even before it is proclaimed. This means that God is robbed of his glory and distorted before the watching world.
For centuries the church has virtually ignored the words and examples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has repeatedly copied in whole the authority structures of the world, changed the names of executives from kings, generals, captains, presidents, governors, secretaries, heads, and chiefs to popes, patriarchs, bishops, stewards, deacons, pastors, and elders, and gone merrily on its way, lording it over the brethren and thus destroying the model of servanthood which our Lord intended.
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed far too many pastors spend more time protecting their authority and salary than teaching the truth of the Word.