Is my church overstepping or not?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Hawnter, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. Hawnter

    Hawnter
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    Just wondering your thoughts on a Baptist church that has voted that anyone in a position of leadership needs to sign an written agreement to: do a daily quiet time, attend all meetings pertaining to their ministry, pray and read the bible daily, join the evangelical program (witnessing door to door),tithe, attend all morning and night services unless circumstances out of their control prevents them from being there (if they have to miss a worship service, they have to notify the church staff), and they also need to commit to taking a set amount of discipleship training classes (usually 6-16 weeks for each class). Also, anyone who feels called to take on a ministry would not be able to do so without approval by church council.

    Anyone who feels they can't do all of these things will be asked to give up their ministry. Our church was split just about half and half on the initial vote but it passed with a greater majority on a later vote. Our pastor is pushing this. We've already had a few respected leaders give up their ministries. It seems very legalistic to me..as if you're automatically in God's will if you follow these rules. Is this common in many Baptist churches? Although many of the requirements are things I would do anyway, it's something I will do because the Holy Spirit convicts me, not something I will do because I signed a "contract". I want Him to receive the glory for any areas of spiritual growth. I'm not a pew-sitter...I've been quite involved in several ministries. But, there are other areas in my life that I've felt called to serve Him that have nothing to do with my church, and I feel this "all or nothing" attitude will prevent me from serving at my church at all. I've prayed heavily about this, but am not feeling any peace. Instead, I feel nothing but turmoil. I don't wish to create trouble, I'm just wondering if God's leading me elsewhere?

    Sorry this is so long, I'm just feeling very lonely in my church right now...like I don't quite measure up. I would like to hear the opinions of any bible based christians who aren't involved. Any thoughts pro or con will be welcome.

    [ January 07, 2004, 03:25 AM: Message edited by: Hawnter ]
     
  2. David Mark

    David Mark
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    One of the most awesome things that I can find when I visit any assembly of believers is just one believer that really likes me. I am willing to sort through hundreds to find just one good friend.

    One believing friend in my life, makes me a rich man. Hundreds of believing strangers just makes me lonely. [​IMG]

    Smile,

    Dave.
     
  3. ralb

    ralb
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    Ain't that the truth......
     
  4. Walls

    Walls
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    A Christian with a heart of service, will pray, read and have devotional time each day. A man that is called to service by the Lord, doesn't need man's approval. However, if your church makes it a point to put men into positions within the church, then those men should be qualified for the position as defined in the Bible.

    If your pastor is pushing this issue, is he able to undergo his own scrutiny? We have left a legalistic church and let me tell you, men who are ready to serve the Lord get so discouraged that it takes years to bring the back around!
     
  5. Deacon

    Deacon
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    They sound like good principles to follow in general but knowing myself I couldn't sign it; Before to long it would seem like a task or burden rather than something that brings me closer to my Lord.

    I had the task of reviewing the church personnel policies a few years ago since the previous one hadn't been updated since the mid 1960's. The policy was very specific about the amount of time the pastor would spend on various things, it even gave a schedule for visitation. Sometimes these things are best left unwritten and expressed with a more "liberal" verbal understanding.

    Rob
     
  6. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    Hawnter:

    What your church has done (knowingly or not) is copy standard practice in business management and apply it to a ministry situation. Well run corporations will outline goals and expectations of their employees annually and will tie salary increases, bonuses, or discipline measures to those specified goals.

    Many times this is done for legal reasons so that they can justify firing an employee who is not completing his objectives. Where this can come back to haunt you is when someone meets all of their goals but is an absolute jerk. You can't get rid of him because he has done everything you asked him to do in writing.

    I would be very careful setting goals that are too specific in a ministry application and I would be very hesitant to sign such an agreement.

    Tentmaker
     
  7. j_barner2000

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    I have been serving at my church as pastoral intern since August 2002 and never had to sign anything like that. However, my mother and father-in-law have been asked by their pastor (a different IFB church) to sign a similar sounding statement to continue teaching Sunday School. There need to be standards set by the church leadership for people placed in a "ministerial" position. However, this seems to be a bit extreme. I would not sign the document if you feel it makes you uneasy.
    I am serving at a church (First Baptist Country Church) in Surprise where we would welcome someone willing to serve by doing more than sitting in the pews.

    By the way... WELCOME TO THE BOARD!!
     
  8. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I think as a whole it is a good idea. I made the mistake early on of not letting people know what is expected and it caused problems because things were not being done well. This particular expression of it might need some nuancing.

    All of those things are things that every believer should be doing. Someone in a position of leadership is a model for everyone else. If they are not doing it, then there is a serious problem. A lot of ministry positions are filled with people who are not doing what they ought to do. And the ministry suffers from it. I have been in situations where SS teachers routinely and for no good reason missed Sunday night church. What do you think the response of their students was when they came on Sunday night?? Look around for the teacher ... don't see him ... figure that if the teacher is not there, it's not important ... they never come back. A person who is not evangelizing is not obedient. They can't lead others to obedience. There are a whole passal of problems that this addresses.

    Is it a bit legalistic??? Perhaps. It might be worded a different way, or perhaps have different requirements, but overall, if more churches did this type of thing, we would have better, stronger churches.

    I think that instead of looking for peace, you ought to be ministering in the church. Remember, ministry is not about your feelings; it is about ministry. That means service to others. "Peace" is notoriously tricky. Nobody seems to know what it is and no one can explain why they are receiving special revelation under the name of "peace" when we know that revelation has closed. God has given us in his word all things necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1). He has given us everything necessary to equip us for every good work (2 Tim 3). Why do we need anything else?? The question is, Are these requirements biblical requirements?? On a great many, I would say Yes. Second question, Is the local church God's ordained means of reaching the world in this age with the authority as a body to carry out that mission?? The answer is Yes. Not knowing any more about you than you have put here, and no meaning to play the Holy Spirit in your life, I would suggest that God is not leading you elsewhere. I say that because you have objected on no grounds other than your own feelings. You admitted that these things were something you should be doing as a Christian. Your objection is not the things themselves, but the fact that someone has the audacity to say if you are going to be in the ministry of this church, then you are going to be in the ministry of this church (for these things are all about ministry).

    To address one more question, Walls says that if a man is called of God, he does not need God's approval. Yet the Scriptures teach the opposite. In Acts 13 as well as other places, we see the pattern of men approved by the church, going out for ministry only after that approval. In 1 Tim 3 and 5, we see the explicit requirement that a person wanting to be in ministry have the approval of the church. While it is very pious to say "God called me, I don't need the man's approval," the NT evidence is that God's call works in conjunction with the approval of the local body of Christ. So, Yes, you do need the approval of your church to be involved in ministry. It is there where you are found fit (or unfit) for ministry. It is there where you are equipped and discipled for ministry. It is there where you are held accountable for ministry. It is there where you contribute to the building of ministry. This maverick attitude that "I don't need the approval of the church" is nowhere found in the NT. It should not be found in the lives of Christians either.
     
  9. j_barner2000

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    Pastor Larry... I agree that most of these requirements are basics for a Christian walk. However, there are a couple of things that concern me. Not all methods work for all people effectively. When man makes a formula for the exact hoops that an individual must leap through to be "qualified" for a ministry, I get nervous. A better approach may be to set up a plan sheet which touches on general areas and allow the member to pray and commit to the particular method they are best able to use to meet the goal in that area. Evangelism may be better accomplished through 1 member by going door to door and by another by a different means. When we limit or force all of the members into a particular mold, we ignore the fact that God made us individuals, with different abilities and gifts. One of the gifts He gave each of us is our unique personality, which means we each will have methods that work for us and some frankly will not work for an individual.

    Our pastor has certain basic requirements and he allows us to schedule and develop plans to meet the basic requirements. We give him a written plan and we analize it based on results to see if we need to tweek or try different methods, but he does not force certain methods upon everyone. He has never given us a document setting forth certain "methods" for us to sign that we will use.
     
  10. Hawnter

    Hawnter
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    Pastor Larry, thank you for taking the time to write in such detail. I appreciate hearing your perspective and the biblical references. I in no way consider myself a "maverik" who doesn't need the approval of man. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I'm nonconfrontational to a fault and I have spent most of my life committing the sin of needing approval from man. God has dealt with me on that issue in a major way. I am ministering in my church as you have suggested. In fact, I have several areas of servanthood. It has been mostly through those ministries that God has led me to grow spiritually. I agree that all of these goals are something a christian needs to work towards. I have a problem with the specifics, and asking faithful people to step down if they're not meeting them. Yes, we are all called to witness, but who's to say that someone isn't doing that if they're not involved with this or that particular program? Should a church so highly esteem its programs? God made us wonderfully unique for a reason. We all lend our gifts to the workings of the church. I think everyone who's willing to serve in any capacity has something worthwhile to offer. Some people are able to do more than others at different times of their lives. Some people have serious health issues, an unbelieving spouse, or are called to a ministry outside the realm of a church which might preclude them from fufilling all the requirements. I don't think a church should reject people willing to serve on that basis alone. On the otherhand, I don't want to belong to a church that functions mainly as a social club either. I think my pastor's heart is in the right place, and this is why I'm torn. Thanks to all who wrote. I really was hoping to get another perspective on this issue. You've given me much to think about.
     
  11. Hawnter

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  12. gb93433

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    I remember reading about Spurgeon when he slept for more than 24 hours. He would have been disqualified. Everyone of Jesus' folowers would have been disqualified.

    One of the things I would have done was to have the pastor publically if he has ever missed a day when he didn't have a quiet time. I am sure he would have to admit there was one. Everyone of us are not without sin. God uses born again sinners to lead. But they still have a sin nature. Sometime ask the pastor how he stacks up against even Paul.

    Eccl. 7:20, "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins."

    That pastor needs some humility. I would supose he has never understood who people are and especially who he is. He will have his downfall if he keeps this up. Legalism never flourishes. It puts people in bondage. The thigs you listed ar egood things. But nobody will ever keep all of them all of the time. Anyone who would sign that should be ready to resign of lie including the pastor.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    PErhaps someone saw something I didn't. Did the post tell the recourse?? Did it really say that if you miss one day of devotions you can't minister anymore?? Did it really say that if you miss one service because of work or illness that you can't minister anymore??? It seems to me, from a pastor's perspective, is that we are talking about patterns.

    I did ask someone to step down from a ministry for a period of time over health reasons. I made it clear that the reason was that this ministry needed someone who could be faithful and that I hoped when they were able to be faithful that they would resume their place in the ministry. There are very valid reasons why this type of standard is necessary. Someone who is not spending time daily in the word cannot be as effective a teacher as they should be. Someone who is not evangelizing is disobedient. Someone who is routinely skipping church ministries is not showing a commitment to the body. Those things should concern us because rarely will the student be more committed than the teacher.

    I think you guys are overreacting. All of you, so far, have admitted that these are biblical actions and they should be done by every believer. But some of you have your hackles up because someone has the audacity to expect leaders to act like leaders. I don't get that. I must be honest. Someone comes to me and tells me they want ot minister but they don't want to be held accountable, I will be finding out why. Why would you reject the accountability for doing things that you admit you should be doing? Do you not agree that leaders should be held to a higher standard?? I think this is an area where "legalism" is thrown around too easily.

    It seems to me that the real issue with some of you who are objecting is that you don't want the accountability ... you don't want to have to answer to someone. Without getting your hackles up at me, tell us why you don't want the accountability. Tell us why you think a leader should not be held to this standard.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    As I say, perhaps some of the specifics can be changed. I agree that door to door may not be the best way to share the gospel today. But everyone ought to be doing it and ought to be able to explain how and when.

    I disagree. Some people are backbiters and gossipers, complainers. For them, a ministry is a chance to gossip to coworkers. Some are in it for the ego stroking it brings. Hopefully most are not like this ... unfortunately, some are.


    What kind of ministry would this be??
     
  15. Johnv

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    I must agree. It turns something that is a private matter between you and the Lord into a contract for man to stick his nose into. I wouldn't sign it snce it voild interfere with religious liberty.
     
  16. JustAsIAm

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    I've got to ask how big this church is and how well this pastor knows his flock.

    If this man and the church council know who they are dealing with, then the fruit of the person's life and their general faithfulness should be indication of whether or not they are mature enough to lead a ministry.

    If the paper one is asked to sign is as black and white as Hawnter listed, then sign me on the legalism train. Not even a pastor does all of this consistently (day to day, everyday). I could not sign this, just for the fact that I would feel compelled by consceince to resign after the first devotion I missed.

    If these are guidelines, and things that the people are asked to be generally faithful to, then I know I'd be able to comply, but I'm not sure I'd sign. It seems like this pastor is a little controlling, and treating his people like children. Did he sign this agreement too? Who is going to check on him daily?

    Personally, I think this pastor is looking to make his own job easier by not having to discern which members are able to serve faithfully and who are not. I'm sorry if I offend with this opinion, but we were asked!
     
  17. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    I don't think the Bible mandates that believers need be at both morning and night services, indeed it doesn't even mandate that morning and night services should exist. For this reason along I am hesitant to sign it, for perhaps certainstances should change and I can't attend both. My life is a matter of trusting God and depending on him for everything, not being physically present everytime church doors are open. Now it so happens that I succeed most in trusting in God and depending on Him for everything when I am attending everytime the church doors are open, but that doesn't make the two interchangable. You can certainly do one without the other, in both directions. Also, I don't think the Tithe is a NT local church command.

    That said, I can understand the frustration of leadership if even thier leaders arn't doing basic Christian things. Perhaps a strong accountablility is needed, as well as patience and strong fruits of spiritual maturity before elders are chosen. However, a contract?
     
  18. Hawnter

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    Pastor Larry, I guess I should have worded it like this "anyone who is willing to serve Him in any capacity has something worthwhile to offer". Yes, there are many people who serve only to advance their own desires. Other ministries outside the realm of a church might include: volunteering at a homeless shelter, fundraising for christian based charities, visiting hospitals or nursing homes, volunteer work such as building housing or churches in low income areas, taking food to the sick or needy, etc... The Lord has called me to homeschool my children and to do regular volunteer work for a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. Both take a tremendous amount of my time. Maybe you don't see these as ministries? I also have three areas of ministry within my church, one of which involves overseeing 25+ children's workers. I know I can't in good conscience let my name be put on this paper...God's still working on me. So the question becomes "Do I go to another church where I will be allowed to serve or step down from my church ministries and stay where I am?" I do love my pastor and church believe it or not! [​IMG]

    [ January 07, 2004, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: Hawnter ]
     
  19. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Thyese things should not take the place of your commitment to and involvement in the local body of Christ. There is a big distinction between the local chruch and these things. God ordained one and not the other, and with good reason. Some of these things can and should be done through the local church. They should never be done in place of it.

    But niether of which should conflict with the local church, as I read the NT.

    I would be very cautious of defining ministry different than the NT does. IN the NT, ministry is serving through the local body with a view to building up the local body. A church very well might have some of those ministries. Work in them. Also be willing to consider the fact that perhaps you have established something as a priority that God doesn't intend you to have a priority. Consider your priorities in light of the NT. What did God tell us to do and what channel did he tell us to do it through?

    If you love him (your pastor) and her (your church), then talk to him about what you have just said here. I would be willing to bet (if I were a betting man) that you have read more into this than perhaps should be. I know of no pastor who is going to ask you to step aside from ministry until you are perfect. I can't imagine someone asking you to step aside because you missed devotions one day, or got sick or had a sick child and couldn't come to church. I imagine if you talk to him, he probably has an answer for you.

    On the other hand, if someone wants to minister without beign committed to the body, that is a different story. I don't see you in that place.
     
  20. Hawnter

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    Thanks Pastor Larry! I'll take your advice.

    Thanks also to everyone else who posted.
    I appreciate all the input.

    [ January 07, 2004, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: Hawnter ]
     

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