Disclaimer: My thoughts are all over the place. They are like birds flying everywhere. 🙂
I’ve been processing a moral failure of a long time mega church pastor and watching the church fall apart. This man was a mentor to me from a far in many ways. It was because of him and his wife’s books, that I was encouraged to marry my husband. It was because of his books that my prayer life became more important than being busy. It was because of his books that my leadership became more courageous. And yet, I have noticed that his moral failure has not rocked me to the core. Yet, I watch as his church falls apart and I’ve been wondering if the church is falling apart because they knew the voice of him as their pastor more than the voice of Jesus?
I watch how the rate of burnout, infidelity, depression, and suicide amongst pastors seems to be increasing. Is this because people are following the pastors rather than Jesus?
One former mega church pastor said it was unhealthy that so many people relied on him. He was convicted by Holy Spirit to walk away and begin pastoring in a house church movement. Today, he equips disciples to multiply following Holy Spirit rather than to coagulate by gathering to hear his sermons.
Sometimes I hear people say:
“We go to this church because of the pastor, or because of a certain family invited us, or because of the program for my kids…”
And then, I’ve watched how the pastor leaves, or the pastor falls into moral failure, or the kids get too old for the program… and then the family leaves completely disillusioned and maybe even walks away from Jesus altogether. But, were they truly walking with him in the first place? Or just with the pastor?
Lord, are we following people, programs, or you?
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27,28
Yes, granted when one in our family falls into moral failure, the whole family suffers. Yet, I’ve also been pondering how when your whole foundation is built on Jesus, when there’s moral failure in your human leadership, you lean into Jesus more than ever and bounce back higher than you ever were before.
And when there’s no repentance in leadership, you need to fire this person in leadership. And if leadership refuses to fire the leader, you will have to move on. No matter if you want to forgive them or not, without repentance, you cannot move forward …as is… under their leadership. Submitting to an unrepentant leader or leadership team only brings curses upon yourself.
Just some thoughts to process… as I’m going through a paradigm shift of…
“Who is called to lead the church?”
Some people say: Men only.
But, then we read the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles and see women leading everywhere in the church…empowered by Jesus and by Paul. Jesus selected women to be the first messengers of the Resurrection in a culture that devalued female testimony.
The fastest growing churches in the world today in Iran and China are being led and multiplied by women. Chinese pastors for years have told North American pastors their secret – “Release your women.” When Chinese government began putting male pastors behind bars, the church made women 85% of its pastoral leaders, and the church grew from one million to a hundred million in fifty years. (Source: Victor Choudhrie)
HOWEVER, I’ve been wondering if we have focused too much on people period… regardless of gender, and not enough on Jesus?
It’s not about men leading.
It’s not about women leading.
It’s about Jesus leading His Bride.
Constantine sadly institutionalized Christianity using the book of Leviticus rather than the book of Acts model, but our minds need to shift to the fact that we are called to be the priesthood of believers!
No professional pastors required.
We are ALL pastors called to share the truth, to love each other and honour each other.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
And He later told His disciples to wait until Holy Spirit came!
…Yet, we still seem to insist on relying only on our Theology. By the way, there’s a book called ‘Systematic Theology’, but why isn’t there a book called: “Systematic Marriage”? …I’m teasing…. We can’t put God in a box, like we can’t put our spouse in a box.
I love when the professional religious leaders of the day took note because, “These unschooled, ordinary men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4)
There it is again… Relationship with Jesus.
Here’s another quote I heard back in 2014 which keeps coming to mind too lately…
“One day all the mega churches will fall apart, and we’ll look back and wonder what was going on in churches in North America.” – Dallas Willard
Please note: Don’t think I’m entirely anti mega-church. God can still flow and move in them. In fact, one year I made a journey to attend a mega church to discover for myself if it was legitimately led by Jesus or not…and I was actually blown away by this church culture of honour (and of family). The Lead pastor continually honoured and empowered other leaders, male or female, and was quick to share the pulpit. He knew the love and goodness of God that He didn’t feel threatened by others. Rather, he cheered them on.
I am reminded that when leaders don’t think there’s enough of God’s love to go around, and they feel threatened by gifted congregants or other leaders, that’s when they walk in fear, jealousy, control and manipulation…
But, when leaders know God’s love, they celebrate other people’s wins!
…But, here’s a thought… If this last Lead Pastor were ever to fall into moral failure like the one I mentioned at the start of this article, would this mega-church fall apart?? Hmmm, that is the question…
What are your thoughts on who should Shepherd the Church? Are we still relying too much on people and not enough on Jesus and Holy Spirit?
Thoughts? 🙂 Share your comments below…
Also… enjoy this incredible document below written by Victor Choudhrie who is multiplying disciples in one of the fastest Disciplemaking movements today… choudherie_from_megachurch_to_metachurch_2010