The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part LVII
When a company retools, to whom are they accountable? It could be to the shareholder, the investor, or to management, or to the working force. In order to make a profit, all three must work together and be accountable to one another, or a product will not be produced nor a profit made.
If we are to retool the Church, to whom will the Church be accountable? To whom are those in the Church to be accountable to? At the end of the last century, may “independent” churches, trying to avoid becoming a denomination or being part of a denomination, were birthed, held together by loosely held associations with other independent churches or totally independent from anyone. The Missional Movement came in to existence in order for these loose federations to communicate with each other without being accountable to one another. I attend a church that is independent and currently is not under anyone’s umbrella of protection, guidance, or advice beyond the local church. What does that say to the Body of Christ, the Church, as a whole? To whom are we to be accountable to if anyone?
Inside the local church structure, to whom are we to be accountable? I am told the Pastor, Elders, or leadership team. I have been taught that I need to give a tithe to the local church to support this leadership team and/or staff as part of my accountability to them. What then is their role of accountability towards me? Are they accountable to me in some way? How? I attended a church of near 3,000 this past Sunday, and realized that there is no way the pastor even knows, or even has met with each member of his flock over the past year. The people feel accountable to him as their pastor, but what is expected of him towards them: a sermon each week, but not a personal relationship?
The church is built on relationships, and true accountability is a give and take situation. It is reciprocal. I John 3:16 says that we need to lay down our lives for our brethren, but we cannot do that without a relationship. Any mega-church knows that it has to have a small group ministry if it is ever going to “disciple” its flock. I recently heard Kent Henry pointed out that during the last decade we, the church, have opted for high-tech, rear projected screens, with internet, social networking capabilities, high quality sound systems and lighting, producing an entertaining product attracting large numbers of people, but we have failed in “discipleship”.
What is a “disciple”? What is “discipleship”? Ephesians 4 calls it “equipping”, or preparing, “the saints for the work of the service”. What does “equipping” mean? What actually is “the service”? I believe that effective equipping can come only through building and establishing relationships that are accountable to one another. Only through relationships can effective “serving” or service be taught. If we “serve” one another through relationship, we establish accountability to one another. Think of your best friends. Why are you best friends? Your intimate friendship is based on the accountability of your intimate relationship. You accept one another, even at your worse, and you listen to one another giving and taking advice.
The church has to recognize that accountability does not come by positions or offices held in a church, even though the Bible teaches to honor those in leadership, but in relationships with one another. Big Brother programs have been effective toward needy children, but the church needs a Mature Believers in Christ program where older men build relationships with younger men, older women build relationships with younger women, not as another church program, but in actual relationships that take time, nurture, and care. If that is established then the reciprocal will happen when the young will then take care of the old, the widow, and the widower. The book of Titus deals with this endeavor.
So how is the Church to be retooled? It should be retooled through relationships which will produce accountability. Anything less will become just programs, changing every month or every cycle, the very trap many churches find themselves in today. Let’s focus on relationships, the laying down of our lives for each other, which is a deep relationship of accountability.