JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (BNC) Guest Editorial by Steven Rasberry — As the church, we should seek to adhere to the inspired pattern. We often, and rightly so, go to great lengths to keep our worship in spirit and in truth. But as any well trained solder is trained to know, we need to guard our flanks and not allow the enemy unhindered access. Even if we have the worship down pat, if we are off on our heart and mindset, we can become just as lost.
For decades, many congregations, even many that consider themselves conservative and sound, have begun to mix worldly management practices into that which is holy and spiritual.
It has become so common practice that, when it’s brought up, it can be shocking to those that it applies to. Often they can’t see it because they thought they were doing their best for God instead of doing what God said is best.
It’s a problem not only for elders, deacons, and ministers, but for all members of the body.
The disease of a business mentality has infected how many Christians interact socially and organizationally.
The desire to be successful in this social environment can result in division, disgruntled elders, members, and ministers. It festers into a dog-eat-dog mindset, fights, power plays, control through holding money over people’s heads, partiality, backbiting, gossip, and numerous disheartened ministers leaving the service of the Lord’s Body to go into the world to work so they and their families can be treated better than how they are in their own congregation.
Often ministers report feeling that they are kept at arms length socially and never know if their “paycheck” was going to be removed and they get “fired” if someone doesn’t like the sermon topic.
This is not the fault of the church itself but has crept in through well-meaning individuals who have allowed their personal or professional ego, business experience, college classes, or worldly books on leadership to lead them astray, thinking that they need to be such, in order to feel like they are in charge, successful, leading people, or getting things done. This is done in spite of the overarching impact they are making on the brethren, usually blaming them if they react negatively. In the military, we called this toxic leadership.
This mindset has a trickle-down effect to the core members who then also start to look at each other and those that the congregation supports, as employees and not as a fellow workers for the Lord, as the angel told John.
The only cure is, first, to truly love and respect each other as equals because by that others will see Him in us. Second, the best leaders are the best followers. Jesus said to be servants and to be first we have to be the last. Third, Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. We need to be less like the world, not like it.
The following is just a short list of worldly ideas that are common. It is by no means exhaustive, but can give food for thought as we should all give effort to go back into the Book and apply what we see as Lord’s original pattern and intention.
In the church, there are
- No “jobs”
- No “directors”
- No “bible degrees”
- No “bible major”
- No “Christian college”
- No “salary”
- No “managers”
- No “youth” ministers
- No “family” ministers
- No “youth groups”
- No “hiring”
- No “firing”
- No “boards”
- No “senior preacher”
- No “associate” minister
- No “hierarchy”
- No “program format”
- No “staff”
- No “promotions”
- No “requirement to have a college degree”
- No “titles”
- No “contracts or letters of affirmation”
In conclusion, please note that words have meaning. If we improperly use words that communicate things we do not intend, it should be adjusted to a better word.
For example: Support is “support,” not “pay” or “salary” and there are no “titles” among men, but only descriptive designations found in the church, elders, deacons (servants), teachers etc.
Working together as a body instead of having jobs: Elders and ministers, evangelists are fellow workers and if it’s not working out, they can either remain as a member and submit to the leadership of the shepherds and ongoing effort in the area or move on to another work. The whole idea of hiring and firing, like they are a cashier at grocery story, is foreign to the Word in every way.
Pattern: Note below there are no directors or hierarchy. Support is given because the minister or elder is so busy that they need support because they can’t work a worldly profession. Nothing about a director of education or division of ministers above another, Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Corinthians 9:6-15; John 13:34-35.
I pray this article brings our hearts and minds back to the way Lord’s first intended on us to be, as His body, not a corporation.
Steven Rasberry resides in Johnson City, Tenn., and attends the 11E congregation in Jonesborough, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He recently shared his Afghanistan experience and medical issues on The New American.