Should Congregations Run Churches

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by TexasSky, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. TexasSky

    TexasSky
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    I know that on the surface that sounds like a silly question, but I was thinking about some things I've observed over the years, and it has given me pause:

    Observation One:
    The majority of people entering the ministry, at any level, do so for all the right reasons. They love God, they feel called by God, they study the word of God, they pray, they seek God's will in their life.

    Observation Two:
    Congregations are made up of all kinds of people; some of them are "old Christians," some of them are "old church goers who pass themselves off as Christians, then later admit they never knew the Lord," some of them "grew up in the church," and many of them are very, very new babes in Christ.

    Observation Three:
    The secular world and the demons of Satan have caught onto observations one and two.

    Evidence 1:
    I read somewhere that the election of a "gay bishop" to the Epsicopalian Church was a deliberate planned scheme carried out by members of the gay pride movement. (This was a bragging article, a "how to" for gays, not a "we're really innocent, don't blame us article.) It said that, having discovered how the elections of high church officials were held, they realized that if they could infiltrate certain churches in certain areas and get enough gay representatives or gay-sympathizing representatives sent as delegates, they could change the structure of certain types of Churches. They specfically targeted Epsicopalian Churches.

    Evidence 2:
    My own church was a wonderful "family" of God. We knew each other, we had no "in-fighting". Our Pastor knew the congregation, in general, approved of him and his staff. We were growing and we were reaching out to the city at large.

    Then we built the new building. It is apparently much lovlier than we realized because with the opening of those doors, membership seemed to double. LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of people coming in by promise of letter.

    Suddenly all these new people are making changes, and frankly, causing disruptions. They don't like the music, they question the Pastor's authority, they don't like the deacons and make accusations that they are "old guard." They chased off an associate pastor. A lot of these new people are also new Christians, have accepted Christ as recently as this year, and feeling they should "run the show." And yes, they seem to view it as a production rather than a worship.

    So - how do churches today protect themselves against this? Not to knock new Christians, but lets face it folks - you don't know everything about God's word the day you are baptized.
     
  2. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I am gonna think about this and get back to you.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  3. TexasSky

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    I can see you see why I don't think it is an easy yes or no answer.
     
  4. Philip Walls

    Philip Walls
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    Sorry, that statement of yours sounds condescending. A new Christian does not know everything about God's Word. Yes, but I also think it is a safe bet to say there are 90 year old mature Christians on their deathbeds that don't know everything about God's Word either. Also, you have no idea what God has chosen to reveal to a Christian, new or old, in their studies or prayer times.

    Your church should have an interview process. Most do. Could be as simple as the pastor talking to the new prospects. Should be done before they stand up to be voted in. I would make sure that process is functioning properly.

    Who is to say that these new Christians are not exactly where God wanted them and doing exactly what God is having them to do. How do you know that changes aren't necessary in your Church?

    I don't know your circumstances because you were vague in your post.
     
  5. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. No man should "run" the Church. That is part of the problem with many pastors these days, IMO. They try to "run" the Church like a CEO of a secular business. They even follow the models of the secular world with a few scripture thrown in to justify it. The program has become the central focus of many churches intead of the Bible, and that is a shame.

    On the other hand, you have many who have been Christians for a long time who have become complacent in Zion and fear change. What if God wishes for some things to change, and they are not open to it? Or, on the other hand, what if the change is not of God? Then, you have those who are new Christians, are idealistic, like many new pastors. They want to change the world, beginning with the Church.

    Then, you have new pastors who have a heart for God, a great knowledge of the Bible, but not enough common sense to put that passion and knowledge into action. Then again, certainly Moses was not a great orater or leader either. It was not he who did the miraculous. It was God. Certainly, the Apostle Paul was not a Rick Warren. He was no Tony Evans or TD Jakes. It was the power of God working through him that made him effective in his ministry. It was his focus on the Gospel. But, certainly, many young pastors go into the ministry with unrealistic expectations of what they can do and how the Church ought to react to their ideas everytime. What I am saying here, is that perhaps everyone is in need of a change in their view of ministry and the function of the Church. What changes in thought should there be?

    1. Jesus should be the head of the Church, not a pastor, not a convention, not a group of angry disgruntled members.
    2. We should see ourselves as equal parts of the whole Church with different functions within the Church as Paul discussed in his letter to the Church of Corinth.
    3. We should aknowledge the sovereignty of God and that should lead us to a total reliance on him to fullfill his will, not our will, through us. We should submit ourselves to that will.
    4. We should acknowledge the Word of God as our blueprint for knowing the will of God. This should guide us in our doctrine, how we function within the Church, and how we handle conflict. The Bible is certainly more than adequate to guide in God's will in these matters.
    5. The pastor should listen to the congregation. The pastor should faithfully preach the Word to the congregation. The Pastor should faithfully pray for the congregation. The pastor should serve God through his service to the congregation. If the pastor thinks a decision of the congregation is wrong, he should correct the congregation using scripture. If it is not a scriptural objection, then I think the pastor should yield his will. If the pastor has shown through scripture that their decision is the wrong one, and they rebel against scripture, then he should conduct Biblical discipline, and seperate from the Church if needed. Sometimes, just like the father of the prodigal, if you love someone, you must let them go and figure it out themselves. This is the way I think a servant leader shepherds his flock that God has given him.
    6. The congregation should pray for the pastor, make their views known. However, if the pastor brings a scriptural objection, then they should yield to the authority of Scripture. If the pastor is bringing forth an objection that is based on carnal pride, then they should go to Biblical discipline (and no, that doesn't mean fire him). The same is true of older and newer Christians. We should not be too proud of our spiritual maturity, and the younger Christians among us shoud not be too judgemental of the cautiosness of the older Christians. We need to stop finding fault with each other and start working with each other to follow God's will as it is revealed in God's Word, since that is the purpose of the Church.
    7. The bottom line is that we should all let Jesus run his church and let the Bible be the authoritative guide by which he leads us. Once we get back to the Bible, we won't have any need for the latest church growth fad to come out of California. We will be doing the will of God and God will begin blessing his Church again. I just fear that everyone of us have forgotten whose church it is these days.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  6. TexasSky

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    Phillip,

    I don't mean to sound condenscending, but then, you sound condenscending also. We do, indeed, have a process where the pastor talks to people. The problem is that gossip mongers, slanderers, and back-biters don't tend to tell the Pastor or the membership committee about that part of their life when they go through those discussions.

    They stick to the main points of salvation.

    Yes, elderly can be just as far from God. Yes, progress can be good.

    However - what I am talking about is NOT godly progress. It is more like a "hostile take over."
     
  7. Philip Walls

    Philip Walls
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    I'm sorry, but until you post a specific problem or event that is taking place with details, then anything you suggest offhandly as you have done is onesided and can't be evaluated on its merits.

    I don't know you or the circumstance so there is no way I can add anything of value to a discussion on that.

    How can anyone here do that if all you post is generalites?

    You say that these new Christians are changing things and doing things. Obviously you don't approve since you posted it. But, how am I to know that you aren't a person that is opposed to change just because it is change?

    I do know this. If you are unhappy, then you have to work harder to make your point known. You have to show these "new" Christians through education of the Word where they are wrong. Of course, there again, without specifics we can't know who is wrong and who isn't.
     
  8. TexasSky

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    Phillip,

    I felt the example regarding Gay Pride's assertion that they deliberatly targeted certain church groups was specific.

    In regards to my own church.
    Approximately 4 months after the new building ribbon cutting ceremony I began to hear rumors that certain people were grumbling about the Pastor, accusing him of being too dictatorial, and accusing him of "not listening to the congregation."

    I asked who the source was. I was told, "Some of the newer members." I shrugged it off.

    Then I got a notice that a special church meeting had been called, stating that because of a discussion over worship services the Pastor and the entire senior staff were being called into a "confidence" meeting. It came complete with copies of some really nasty emails accusing the Pastor and the Deacons of being power mad, undermining the real authority of the church, etc., etc. The letter was from one of the deacons begging all members to show up for the business meeting.

    So - I showed up. The big debate was: Should we have a totally traditional service, a totally contemporary service, a blended service, or - two Sunday morning services one before Sunday School that was more contemporary in music, and one after Sunday School that was more traditional in music. The two-service idea meant twice as much work for the entire church staff, but they had indicated a total willingness to do this.

    As people stood up to speak, I noticed that the longer-term members of the church stated, one after another support for the pastor, support for the deacons, and gratitude that these people were willing to put in the work required to offer 2 different "worship style" services on Sunday.

    I also noticed that people who stood up to make personal attacks against the Pastor, (and by attack I mean they flat out accused him of trying to rig the vote in his favor), would all begin with, "I've only been a member for (months), but at my last church," OR, "I haven't been a Christian very long, but it seems to me that....".

    The thing I found even more disturbing to me was that while the people who founded the church and supported the church staff took a view was that we need to reach the city around us. The view of the others seemed to be, "We don't want anyone else in here."

    This "battle" had hardly settled when another one started. The next one was over Sunday School Organization.

    Each time this group makes a suggestion on how they feel the church should be run, if they don't get their way, they scream that the Pastor is manipulating and power mad, and we get to listen to nice long lectures on "how it was at our last church."

    I want to scream, "Then go BACK to your last church."

    Let me see. A church of Like Faith and Order called a new Minister when their former minister retired. For many months the congregation was quite happy with their new pastor, the church was doing amazing evanaglical work in the city. Then a church of "like faith and order" up the street for them lost their building. A lot of their members moved into the church that had just changed pastors. Rumors instantly began about the pastor. Accusations from "he hates women," to "he's gay," started flying around the church. In trying to stop the nonsense, the deacon body called a special meeting and said, "We are going to do this according to the bible. If you have an accusation against this Pastor, speak it now, and I'm warning you, I know who made the accusations and if you don't speak now, I'm going to expose you myself."

    Well, when the air cleared, it was the "new members" from the church up the street, and they couldn't produce one "witness" who could say, "I heard it with my own ears," or "I saw it with my own eyes." It was ALL gossip. The Pastor had said that he believed that children fared better in a two parent home with stay at home mothers than they did in child care. THIS was the source of "he hates women." The source of "he is gay," was when he asked for prayer for a gay man in the city.

    Another church in a previous city was thriving and doing the Lord's work well when a rival was held. HUNDREDS joined the church in a very short period of time. All professing faith in Christ, all following the Lord in believer's baptism. A few months later the youth group started talking about tarot cards, "the tongues of angels making your closer to god," "not having the gift of tongues meaning you weren't saved." The Pastor preached on the topics and world war 3 broke out in the church. The "new members," were calling the Pastor an "old fogey," a "scared" old timer, a bigot, and unsaved. They accused the deacons of "protecting him." They gave the church an ultimatium. Either teach that it was all okay or they would all walk out enmasse. The folks there before they joined held the door open for them as they exited. BUT they did not, would not, take it to a congregational vote because - frankly, they didn't dare. This was a huge church - most congregation votes are voice. It would have been almost impossible to determine who was or wasn't actually a member of the church.

    Another example: Two missionary couples worked for 35 years to translate a bible into a native indian tongue, plant a church prayer group, and then plant a church itself. They were all ready to retire, handing it over to Christian elders who came from the tribe itself when a youth group in the church started preaching that "Pastors," "deacons," and "elders," were "unbiblical." They started discouraging young people from attending ANY service the "old people" organized.

    Need more examples?

    [ July 12, 2005, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: TexasSky ]
     
  9. TexasSky

    TexasSky
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    P.S. - I actually tend to lean on the side of progressive change. I prefer more contemporary services because I feel winning the youth if vital.

    What I am AGAINST is ANYTHING that starts off with, "If the Pastor opposes me he's a bad man."
     
  10. jdcanady

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    Biblical church discipline is the answer to those who cause strife in the body
     
  11. dianetavegia

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    Phillip said:
    If she does, TexasSky will be accused of gossiping.
     
  12. jdcanady

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    Only if she says "the pastors kids are drunks and have out of wedlock pregnancies and have been in trouble with the law and everyone is afraid of the man" and OH, by the way, should I recommend him for another pastorate?
     
  13. TexasSky

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    Jd,

    I don't know why you seem to enjoy hounding me on the board - but I will say I forgive you for your hateful attitude.

    You have totally twisted the thread you are talking about.

    For a little accuracy -

    I asked this board for their opinion on a personal issue. A man had used members of his old congregation as references when he was seeking a pastorate in another state. Certain members of the man's family had come to my family and to another family, asking us to intervene between them and the man. They'd expressed things to us that indicated a tremendous amount of dysfunction in their home, and the situation got a lot worse.

    The person who was asked to write the recommendation came to me and said something simliar to, "You were there. What do I do? What do I say? I don't want to hurt them by turning them down, but I don't want to recommend a man who is not a good father or a good spouse to the pastorate of a church. Will you recommend them? Or will you tell me what to do?"

    My response was to tell them, "Just pray about. Maybe he's changed. Maybe you can just tell the committee that you haven't been in touch in awhile and suggest they interview his family."

    But, frankly, I felt like I was doing that church a dis-service. So I asked for opinions here.

    AFTER I asked for opinions here, someone wanted to know what kind of problems we were talking about. So I told them, in general terms.

    I never gave a man's name, his old location, his new location. I asked for help from a Christian community. I got JD following me around the board accusing me of spreading gossip instead.
     
  14. TexasSky

    TexasSky
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    But yes, Phillip - Diane is quite right - the reason I avoid posting details is because there are people on this board who look for any reason to attack other Christians.
     
  15. menageriekeeper

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    Texas Sky, I believe there has to be balance.

    Our church is mostly deacon run. By that I mean that if there is a problem, you either have to be prepared to bring it out openly at a business meeting(and the deacons don't like that), or you take it to a deacon and chance that the rest of the deacons will never hear about it.

    That is good in some ways. People who have a minor problem and sneak off to one of the deacons to tattle, usually don't get/go any further. If there is a real problem though and the deacon you approach doesn't see it that way, then you have make a lot of noise in order to be heard.

    The biggest problem with a deacon run church is that they have the power to do a bunch of stuff without consulting the church body. In our case this led to a loss of a pastor who was popular with the people but didn't administrate church business the way the deacons thought he ought to. Messy, messy stuff and now we are senior pastorless for the second time in 4 years.

    I've also been a part of churches where the pastor had the control. This is okay if you have a good pastor, other times it is a monarchy! The best run church I've been to in terms of church business was the one that had it all balanced out. Of course I was a kid then and have no idea how they did it.
     
  16. All about Grace

    All about Grace
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    What do business meetings, votes, Robert's rules of order, and congregationalism have in common? None of them are in the Bible.

    Allow the leader God has called and chosen to lead.
     
  17. Philip Walls

    Philip Walls
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    I have seen it and is one of the main reasons I don't post much. I tend to read more than talk.

    I may have misread some into your original post. I think that change is not bad if it is God-led. I do not like to hear people complain about change just because "that's the way we always did it". I have seen the opposite of what you have described in old churches on the verge of collapse due to stagnation about not wanting or willing to accept ideas from new believers.
     
  18. jdcanady

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    There is little detail about church government in scripture. We do have the account in Acts 6 with the choosing of the 7. "The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stepthen...." This seems to indicate some kind of process where the entire congregation was involved, probably to vote on the 7, though we don't know the exact method.

    In Acts 11; the whole church takes up a donation and sends it to Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabus to the "elders" of the church at Jerusalem. The whole church sends them.

    In Acts 15: The elders consider what to do with the Gentiles, since they were being converted by Paul. James (the chief elder?) gives his opinion. This opinion "seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church"

    After much discussion among the leaders (elders and apostles (although apostles are in a category by themselves and no longer applicable)) the decision was brought before the whole church. Why? For discussion and approval.

    Paul gives general guidelines for "good order" and "modesty" during worship services, and practical guidelines concerning qualifications of pastors(elders) and deacons and women on the widow's list.

    And we have Jesus's instructions for church discipline in Matt.18. Church discipline was a vital part of the life of the church in keeping the focus on Christ and bringing sins (such as gossip) to the members attention so they could repent and be forgiven. Unless you realize you sin (and sin in the congregation is against the whole body) then you cannot be forgiven and restored. The hardest thing for fallen man to do is admit they have sinned before God. Notice the final instruction is to bring the unrepentant member before the whole church, and if they still will not repent, then the whole church adminsters the final discipline.

    The closest biblical model is for elder led (not "rule") churches, following the protocol above. Deacons should be servants of the church. One problem, IMO, that we have is that deacons take on the function of elders when they probably did not have that kind of authority in the first churches.

    By the way, SBC churches origionally made a distinction between the office of pastor, elder and deacon. They merged the pastor/elder role in the 1925 statement.
     
  19. Scott J

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    Answer to the OP:

    It is far too easy to join most Baptist churches... and my honest observation is that SBC churches are much worse than IFB's.

    Further, very, very few churches ever apply church discipline to anyone except for a leader.
     
  20. Scott J

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    BTW, I think having two different services for those who prefer one style or the other is a terrible idea... it builds in division of the congregation.
     

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