The Lack of Trusting in Today’s Christianity
Why is it so hard for Christians to trust? Particularly one another? At least here in the United States?
It is hard for many Christians to trust the Holy Spirit because they feel the Holy Spirit may do something rash, radical, different, obnoxious, and maybe even embarrass them! They want to keep the Holy Spirit “under control” at an arm’s distance rather than trust the Holy Spirit to be “in control”. Because of this lack of trust, most church services have become “safe” places, with predictable, well orchestrated, micromanaged, planned programs.
It seems to be very difficult for professional Christian leaders to also trust those in their congregation, the laity. They equate themselves as “shepherds to be trusted”, but the laity as “dumb sheep,” untrustworthy.
The demise of Mars Hill Church in Northwestern United States under the leadership of Mark Discoll was caused by a “toxic atmosphere” of leadership mistrust. Leading elders would lose trust in their younger, lower positioned elders who might question them, then literally “throw them under the bus”, dismissing them for lack of submission to their leadership. The laity, on the other hand, had absolutely no voice; the only thing they were asked to do is financially give to support their “trusted lead elders” who made fabulous salaries and to volunteer to help keep church programs running smoothly. The elders of these satellite churches, now newly formed independent churches, have chosen to continued to follow their exclusive “elder led; congregational informed” model of leadership. The laity still has no voice, unless it is through their wallet.
Christians are known for not trusting other Christians outside their own religious “camps”. Everyone outside their tunneled scope of theology is wrong; only they are right. Every sect warns about “false teachers” and “wolves in sheep’s clothes” that are among believers in the body of Christ who believe differently than they do. They claim exclusive “Biblical truth”, as if no other Christians follow the Bible correctly. Judgment and “correct doctrine” triumphs over grace and mercy, and Pharisees again arise as they did in Jesus’ day. Jesus still cries, “Woe you scribes and Pharisees” to the religious order of our day!
Ephesians 4 says we are to “equip the saints (not the staff) for works of service.” If we truly follow this scripture, we are to not only “equip” the saints for service, but then must “trust” them by “releasing” them to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The United Methodist Church offered a Lay Speakers class to teach laity how to prepare and deliver sermons, so they could fill pulpits when clergy was on vacation or ill. Only a handful ever got to “preach” because most clergy would not “trust” the “none seminary trained” laity in their pulpit for fear of false teaching or dogma contrary to sound United Methodist teaching.
Ironically, this lack of trust has now “enabled” Christians to remain passive, for nothing is required of them but financial giving. Some churches still give mini-sermons before every offering because they fail to trust their tithers to follow through each week.
The lyrics to an old hymn was “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Today’s Christian leadership demands “obedience” from its laity, but still questions if they can “trust” them.