Nurturing: The Question Of “Control”

Fort Lauderdale Five

In light of my last blog, an example of “overseeing” versus “control” came over the question of pastoring/shepherding in the 1970’s with the Fort Lauderdale Five.  In light of some of the chaos and messiness of the charismatic movement, five leaders decided to bond together to help bring discipline and accountability.  The idea at its inception sounded like a good idea.

Emphasizing small groups, the five lead a movement labeled “the Discipleship Movement”.  Here leaders shepherd or mentored those under their care, but eventually that entailed marriages, relationships, and personal decisions. Because of the tight control of leaderships, many were hurt and scared.

I believe there needs to be accountability, but to what extent? Although I parented three children, one of my sons looked for a spiritual mentor when he reached his 20’s.  He wanted someone who would “see over” his spiritual growth, give advice, care, and love, but not “parent” him.  Shepherding is not “parenting” where you are disciplining a child or juvenile, but it is an “art” of “nurturing”.  It is a gifting, a passion, a point of view, a person whose drive is to aid the development of a believer towards being Christ-like.

A person in his twenties is no longer a teenage, thus the “youth group” hype approach no longer proves relevant nor effective. Being in your 20’s means you are now establishing “your own” morals, goals, career, and faith.  You are no longer a product of your parent’s faith upbringing.  Often in your 20’s and 30’s you set your own path, thus you need someone to “see over” your journey, your decisions, your struggles.  We will see that everyone of the five fold gifting are for the “seeing over” of people at different levels to equip them for the work of the service. 

As a public school teacher for almost 39 years, I have had the opportunity to “see over” 3,500 students in my life, not controlling their lives, but developing and nurturing them in their reading and writing skills. In a pastoral/shepherding sense, the Church needs to learn to develop and nurture (equip) the saints in the work of the service without “controlling” them.

“Micro-management” is one of the most damaging and unproductive forms of management or administration.  The C.E.O., Sr. Pastor, boss, etc. does not have to be involved in everything to “control” it to be the way he wants it to be done, but needs to give those under his leadership freedom as he “sees over” what they do.  Micromanagers don’t develop or nurture, they enforce.

My concern about the next “revival” or “movement” that the Church faces is that the Church may again try to “control” what the Holy Spirit is doing either through micro-management, opposition, or through persecution. Have we learned from history?