The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part LI
At the local church I have attended, we have had three pastors in the last 12 years, all home grown. 12 years ago, a pastoral team of a husband and wife, worked their way up the ranks of leadership to become senior pastors, leading the church into the prophetic and buying a property to build upon. They never pastored in the new building, for they left for Colorado to participate in an international ministry. The middle pastor, as the youth pastor, vowed that he had no desire to use the position as a stepping stone, but would remain with the youth throughout their spiritual journey. He has come and gone as well as almost every youth he vowed to remain beside. The current pastor started out working with youth, then moved to the church’s business manager before accepting the call to become the Senior Pastor when his former pastor resigned. All three had attended Bible school, desiring to go into “full time professional ministry”, working their way up the ranks.
There is more fingers on one of my hands than times the first pastor has visited since moving to Colorado. The middle pastor left the profession to become an insurance man, opting not to attend our church even though he has been invited to do so. If he did, there would be people in the congregation who would still address him as “pastor” (plus his first name). We have hired multiple “worship leaders” over the past 12 years, several home grown, one while on a cruise with one of our pastors. None of them are any longer part of our congregation. The same is true with those who were paid staff members leading youth or the children’s ministry. They too have gone. Often we are told that in order to go “up the ladder” of church leadership, we should start with the serving heart of a janitor. Amazingly our janitors and secretaries have remained, even though they are at the bottom of the salary scale in the church structure.
So, am I anti-clergy or anti-staff? Well, I am tired of the “professionals” telling “nonprofessionals” in the church that we, the “nonprofessionals”, are the Church, with the “professionals” producing unity in the “body” or “family”, yet when the “professionals” become “nonprofessionals”, they feel they “must” leave and are no longer part of the “local body” or “local family”. While in leadership, relationships were built, integrity was developed, yet all that is thrown out with “a resignation”! Why do we have to have estrangement with the severing of professional relationships with nonprofessionals? Often the severing of the ways of a pastor from the local body produces a schism with the pastor’s sheep feeling loyal to him and not the local body to which they were birthed into. Why? Were they engrafted into the “pastor’s” ministry instead of the “local body’s” ministry, a real danger within the church.
A radical change to retool the 21st Century church would be the acceptance of the five fold ministry as passions and points of view of believers in the local body to equip “the saints”, other believers in the local body, to nurture, care, and develop one another into doing works of service in an effort to “mature” the saints, the local believers, in the image of Jesus Christ and bring unity to the local body of Christ.
I grew up in a local church that advocates the multi-leadership “free ministry”, where multiple leaders are developed into “eldership” who do not receive a “salary” for service. Their “calling” is for “life”, thus there commitment is to serve their local congregation for “life”. Wow, to have “life” sentence to serve a local congregation. This concept isn’t novel; it has history.
In America, we think we have to run our churches like we run our business. Our businesses are world renown, influencing the financial institutions world wide. Why would we not want to model our churches after than? The answer is simple: The kingdom of God has NEVER been pattern after worldly patterns; in fact, they are usually just the opposite. True Christianity always influences and affects the world too! In fact, in a more powerful way!