What church should be

N. T. Wright on Death and Tyrants
Holly Ordway on obedience

i-love-my-churchI know what hurt has come from some of my own church experience. I have seen the damage done to others by inappropriate treatment within a church. Quite frankly sometimes it makes me want to find the reset button and see if we can begin again with this whole thing we call church.

I can name two friends that were pushed out of ministry, guys that have good hearts and really ministered to people. They got pushed out because they did not fit with the current leader’s vision of what church should be. These are two different people, in two different churches, in two different states, in two very different parts of the country. The locations may differ, but the churches are similar because the leader has given the Enemy a foothold in that congregation by not allowing these two men to operate in their giftedness.

Perhaps there is a different way to organize church. Perhaps we overlook a pastor’s inability to shepherd his congregation because he is a gifted speaker and can draw large crowds. Perhaps we turn a blind eye to the damage caused when a leader seeks to build his church rather than Christ’s.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the damage that I have seen done by those who have built organizational structures that claim to promote the kingdom of God but only are building a kingdom among men. Today was such a day.

But as I worked on collecting firewood today, I was reminded that for every empire building hawker who claims to represent Christ, there are dozens, hundreds or thousands of men and women who are really doing the work of ministry and living out the claims of the Gospel to change lives.

Some of these men and women are bi-vocational, they have jobs outside the church but still effectively minister in the church. Some are full time employees of the church but give of themselves way above and beyond a regular work schedule. All of them are in ministry because they have been called to that ministry and can say with the Apostle Paul that they are “bond slaves to Jesus Christ.” In short, they are in ministry to meet others’ needs and not their own.

I keep coming back to the chilling words of Jesus in Matthew 7:

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22–23, ESV)

God will sort it out in the end and those who have been obedient and have done ministry God’s way and with God’s methods will be rewarded for their effort.

I really believe that those who misuse their positions of leadership within the church are the minority and that most ministers are seeking to be obedient to the Lord of their calling. The problem is that those who abuse their power for their own ends are often the most gifted and most prominent so it seems as though they are a larger group than they really are.

But God is not mocked. He is watching.

This is bad news to the self-promoters who abuse their congregations. But this is very good news to the faithful servants who give of themselves for the glory of Christ.

To those faithful servants I tip my hat and offer my hearty thanks. You encouraged me today.

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Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ who shares observations about how Scripture should impact the church and the world. Mark is the original author and editor of Attempts at Honesty.
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Latest posts by Mark McIntyre (see all)

N. T. Wright on Death and Tyrants
Holly Ordway on obedience
About Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ who shares observations about how Scripture should impact the church and the world. Mark is the original author and editor of Attempts at Honesty.

9 comments
Pastor Zach Malott
Pastor Zach Malott

I never cease to be amazed by the pain to other Christians that occur within the local body. We are told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together and to love one another as Christ loves the church. 21st century Western Christianity appears in many churches to do just the opposite far too many times for it to just be coincidence. Is it just me or do other pastors feel the same? I feel that it is a complex matter involving the new cultural mores, lack of 1st century discipleship methodology, and Christians not moving from babes in Christ towards maturity in working out their salvation between God and themselves. Unfortunately, it appears that this is a paradigm found not only in the pew but behind the pulpit. Am I just living in the past or do these thoughts have merit in this 21st century church? Blessings, Zach

Scott Kelly
Scott Kelly

Just out of curiosity, was this post related to the church we know each other from...and the associate pastor who was ousted recently? I've had a bad feeling about many goings on there in the past couple of years but since I'm not really in the loop, it's hard to judge whether it's a (spiritually) safe place to fellowship anymore...especially given the large number of departees in the past year. Personally, my wife and I have mostly been attending the Philadelphia branch instead (which I LOVE), but I'm wondering if it's still safe to refer people near your area to go to the church in question. I'd be grateful if you could provide some insight on this matter (privately via email, I suppose).Thanks, Mark :-)

Planting Potatoes
Planting Potatoes

very good read....well put Mark! I can personally relate....I have left a small church, because of the very reasons you write about and because the pastor chooses not to consider it a problem I can't find a way to make it back.....

anafalz
anafalz

I appreciate your words here. Many a narcissistic pastor exist and they drive out others who love Jesus and the people of the church because they feel threatened. I find it interesting how church members will gravitate towards a relational pastor over a great preacher. That should tell us something. These are things a pastor search committee need to look at hen hiring. It something a pastor who is considering working under another pastor needs to look at prior taking a position.

Mark McIntyre
Mark McIntyre

They have merrit. Thamks for sharing them. We need to pray for revival.

Mark McIntyre
Mark McIntyre

I'll drop you a note and we can dialog off line.