Browse by Topic:

SUBSCRIBE VIA RSS
SUBSCRIBE by EMAIL
SUBSCRIPTION HELP

August 3rd, 2010 // posted in Leadership, Trends

The Crisis of Confidence in the Church

The Gallup Organization has evaluated the public’s confidence in institutions for four decades. Their most recent annual survey on this matter showed that Americans are continuing to lose confidence in churches and organized religion. While religious institutions were among the most revered organizations in the land for many years (topping the list some years), we are now in a situation where less than half all adults (48%) have “a great deal of confidence” or “quite a lot of confidence” in churches. Earlier in my lifetime, three out of four adults had such a degree of trust in religious institutions.

Shockingly little has been made of this decline. I think the widespread ambivalence about that decrease is, in itself, stunning. Perhaps the widespread disinterest reflects the confluence of several factors: people’s growing disinterest in organized religion, the frog in the kettle syndrome (the decline has been consistently small each year, but over the course of time has added up to a substantial loss), the frequent denial of bad news by church leaders, the comparatively larger short-term gains and losses of other institutions capturing the imagination of the media, etc.

I’d encourage you to pause and think about the significance of losing people’s confidence. A leader can only sustain forward movement if he/she has the confidence of the people being led into battle. Now, if a church is simply providing a safe comfort station for hurting people, that’s one thing. But if a church is intent upon facilitating a moral and spiritual revolution, recognizing that doing so is a declaration of war on current cultural preferences and values, the loss of confidence is a devastating setback. And – strategically – such confidence cannot be restored by simply waiting for the tide to turn; church leaders must intentionally win back people’s confidence through visionary leadership, holy character, and guiding people in transformational ministry efforts.

Barna Group research has shown that during the past decade, not surprisingly, the Roman Catholic Church has suffered the greatest loss of public confidence. But the Protestant Church has struggled, too. The two generations of adults (Busters and Mosaics) now assuming a substantial share of positions of leadership in the Church think and live very differently than their predecessors – and have divergent expectations related to faith, institutions and leaders. No church is immune to the morphing needs and expectations that challenge all organized groups.

Today’s a good day to realistically assess how much trust and confidence your community has in your leadership and in that of your ministry. Ask yourself questions about people’s understanding of, passion for and engagement with the vision; the efficacy of the strategy you rely upon to pursue the vision; people’s ownership of the proposed process for transforming the world; the efficiency with which your ministry engages the world; the effectiveness and openness of your communications about the cause and your progress; and the utility of the measures you rely upon to evaluate transformation.

198

198 Comments

  1. Pastor Tim

    January 7, 2011

    Hi Michael,

    It seems that many who write on this site have a very stereotypical view of churches in general. Unfortunately I just don’t think it is as cut and dried as you may believe it to be.

    I applaud you for your compassion to the down and out, and believe that this is a great part of what the church is called to accomplish.

    It just seems that I hear this same tune that pastors are standing in the way of keeping people from doing this type of ministry. That somehow if we just got rid of the structured church everyone would just bloom, and really impact the world with the gospel. Frankly, I think this is a bit of an idealistic view of the things, and people.

    People need leaders, and throughout Scripture we can see a clear model of God established leadership for His people. The idea that somehow leadership by a group based upon consensus is going to be more effective than by a pastor is simply not true. Anyone who has ever tried to accomplish anything through a committee or group will soon find just how slow moving, and ineffective this method can be.

    I have found throughout the years that people like to blame their problems on the failure of the structured church to meet their needs, but never for a moment imagine that they could actually be a great part of the problem in the failure of the local church from doing just that. All we have to do is look at Moses, Jesus, and the apostles and we can clearly see that the task of leading people is no easy one.

    I agree that as a pastor I am of no greater value to God than any other member of the body of Christ, and yes I agree that too much money and energy is often spent upon maintaining the status quo in churches. I simply do not believe in the throw the baby out with the bath water approach that I seem to be hearing from the many.

    What happens when house churches multiply into large groups of people? Who is going to lead them? Who is going to correct them? Who is going to solve their squabbles? I think you will soon find that while leading a small group seems very easy, whenever things grow and multiply they become much more complicated, and these house churches may find themselves right back at where they so adamantly opposed. Acts 6 is a great example of growing pains of the early church.

    Pastor Tim

  2. MichaelO

    January 12, 2011

    Hi Pastor Tim,
    I do not have a sterotypical view of churches in general as you propose. I firmly believe that there is only one Church singular, not many churches plural as you seem to imply. Men have, are, and will operate churchs plural to their hearts content and neither you nor I or God will stop them. In fact it is estimated by scholars that presently on the face of the earth there are 22,000 divisions of the them in christian theism alone. I least of all think that the expression of ones faith within the christian theism vein is cut and dried. I don’t have a distinct formula, that is above my function/gifting/calling. I leave that in the hands of the Head of the Church Jesus Christ.
    I do have a real sense that God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit have an opinion and have laid a foundation through the original Apostles. I have a real sense that we (the Church) have strayed pretty far off that foundation. Having said that, I am not a proponet of institutions, denominations, house churchs, home churchs, cell groups, prayer meetings, bible studies, missional, post this or ladder that, movements or revivals, reformations, para-church groups, work fellowships. I’m not against them, I’m just not a proponet of them.
    Why?
    Because I am dead and buried in Baptism and raised to newness of life in Christ Jesus by faith by my confession of Him and THE CHURCH is Jesus Christs not mine. I want to do what He wants me to do, when he wants me to do it, where He wants me to do it, how He wants me to do it, with whom He wants me to do it by the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit today and tommorrow. He has given us His Word in 66 volumes and I look at it with no preconceived notions or I don’t take anyone elses word for what it says, because He is going to hold me accountable for knowing and doing it. I fear what He can do to me for all eternity.
    I have the distinct belief that most of what is going on under the guise of christian churches is not what God intended. That is not to judge nor sterotype, but is an observation. Many, many, many, christian believers are coming to the same or very similar conclusions. Therefore the “Crisis of Confidence in the Church” that our Brother in Christ George Barna has so eloquently brought up in this topic and written a steller book documenting it called “Revolution” followed by “Pagan Christianity” co-authored by Frank Viola.
    I am very certian (Scripturally) that God doesn’t want a group of believers in corporate fellowship to hire a guy to fill 20 or so peoples shoes the same guy wearing 20 different hats, and put up a huge building that sucks 80% of every dollar collected to pay for that. It is causing the “Crisis in the Church” and to beat around the bush about is doing nobody any good. That Model is and has been a total failure. You yourself complain in almost every one of your posts that you can’t get folks up off their pews to do much of anything.
    The problem is systemic. This huge lumbering faltering monolith of the present universal modern model of doing church(s) is dying a slow violent death as it should. Sure your going to have people to cling to the model, but they are the ones you are complaining about presently sitting on their pews keeping them warm.
    It takes the whole corporate local body of many believers functioning and participating in their individual giftings and callings mature through use to get the job done. God never intended for one or two or three professional paid guys guys to do the work of the ministry. Tim you can’t do it by yourself, you need a bunch of folks, start equipping them and stop sermonizing them as they sit dumb mutes within the liturgical prison system. Teach them, equip them, encourage them , build them up. Multiply yourself.
    Stop being positional and get functional, get your serve on.

  3. MichaelO

    January 13, 2011

    Pastor Tim,
    As a friendly suggestion from one Brother to another there is a very telling insight into Pauls instructions to the Corinthian church. He details many things about order, liberty, avoiding Israels mistakes (which we haven’t been very successful in the doing of), the Lords Supper, use of spiritual gifts, the importance of love, prophecy as a superior gift, and so on.
    But in verse 26 of the 14th chapter is a very keen insight. Paul says that; “when we assemble, Each one has a psalm, each has a teaching, each has a revelation, each has a tongue, each has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corin. 14:26) It is very telling within assemblage of christian believers during Pauls time that the full participation and functioning by all assembled in God given spiritual gifting was the outcome of such asembly. By use, and by all participating and functioning comes edification and growth and maturity. It is also very revealing that this letter was written very specifically : “to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corin. 1:2) It is also very revealing that it was sent to all of the saints and not addressed to an elder, deacon, shepherd, pastor, bishop, leader. In fact later on Paul expressed confidence specifically in these same saints at Corinth that they should and could work out this problem mainly of splintering into sub groups aligned with this man and that man. Paul was greatly troubled by christians at Corinth splitting up into differing named groups saying I am of Paul and I am of Apollos etc.
    Paul always addressed it as the Church at Corinth, or the Church at Galatia, even though there were numerous asemblages at each town
    Paul looked at it as the only Church at a given place though there were many groups. Why didn’t Paul write to a pastor for example at Corinth? Why didn’t Paul write to a pastor in any of his letters to any of the churchs at the various locations? I think that it is because the concept of a pastor running a church was non-existant in Pauls idea of christian community.

  4. Pastor Tim

    January 13, 2011

    Hi Michael,

    I appreciate your clarification. It helped me to see where you are coming from. I also appreciate your insight, and can tell that you have thought this through very well.

    I certainly agree that the church in the West has struggled throughout the ages, and has been at time susceptible to abuse by leadership, and various members within.

    I make no apologies for the failures of the church in the West, and would agree that far too many organizations have abandoned or at least compromised the standards of biblical Christianity.

    I simply do not agree with the notion that if we abandon the model of the church as we have known it for a more home based structure that this will remedy the problem. I realize that many believers are coming to the conclusion that the model of the church as we have known it should be changed. I am just not sure this conclusion is in the long run really going to help or hurt the cause of Christ in the United States.

    The ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor & teacher is given to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4) Unfortunately, this has been distorted over the years to the assumption that we hire these ministers to do the work of the ministry.

    You correctly stated. “It takes the whole corporate local body of many believers functioning and participating in their individual giftings and callings mature through use to get the job done. God never intended for one or two or three professional paid guys guys to do the work of the ministry. Tim you can’t do it by yourself, you need a bunch of folks, start equipping them and stop sermonizing them as they sit dumb mutes within the liturgical prison system. Teach them, equip them, encourage them , build them up. Multiply yourself.”

    I wholeheartedly agree, and this is exactly what I have spent the past 21 years of ministry attempting to accomplish, (at times better than others, but with this goal in mind.)

    This is the bottom line. What makes people imagine that if go to a house church model that this will be any easier. I don’t care what structure you use, people are people. I simply believe that this is a much more complex issue than people would like to imagine it to be. Today’s church is dealing with the consequences of the invasion of the world as never before in history. Home church, small group, paid pastor, no pastor it all boils down to the consecration of God’s people to the purposes of His Kingdom, (Matt 6:33)

    I simply believe that the greatest issue the true church is facing (no matter what model we may think is most biblical) is the apostasy, and no structure in the world is ever going to remedy this. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT) For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. {4} They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.

  5. Pastor Tim

    January 13, 2011

    I actually misspoke in my last post. I said that I make no apologies for the churches failures. What I should have said was that I make no excuses or defense for the churches failures.

    Sorry about the confusion.

  6. MichaelO

    January 14, 2011

    Hi Pastor Tim,
    I am really not a proponent of house or home church.
    Each individual group of believers has to assemble in whatever manner they see fit and comfortable that produces an every member particapate every member function atmosphere and setting. Having said that I personally prefer house to house type settings for a number of reasons. Jesus did it with Mary, Lazarous at the house. The early church did it. It is a family type setting promoting family closeness. It doesn’t require the expense of purchasing or building and owning expensive realestate that goes largely unused most of the time. It keeps the fellowship small and intimate promoting new fellowships to start from growth and running out of room and causing people to step into more active participation and functioning through multiplication. The closeness part is very important from the standpoint that most of us need to be healed and grow in a family type setting because our blood relative family history experience is so often dysfunctional and is perhaps our personal biggest hinderance to grow in Christ and be healed so we can be healing to others. It is true that very often that those closest to us charged with loving and nurturng us at a tender young age often did the most harm to us in one way or another. I have experienced the smaller intimate fellowship fosters our personal issues healing quicker and better and more efficiently. In large settings you are lost in the crowd. The local assembly I think is a triage unit where we have such closeness and trust and love that we confess our faults to one another and pray that we be healed so we can grow into the gifting given to us by God and function properly in that gifting having been healed from the scars of family friends and society at large that has affected us our whole life long. Jesus said that they would know us by our love FOR ONE ANOTHER. I think that love is what causes the drawing of people to Him and fellowship and is the most powerful evangelism possible. Having been involved extensively in prayer for healing one on one with people in America and Mexico I am constantly amazed what family members do to each other and wound them for life, until Jesus steps in and heals them.
    This is the type of atmosphere I am talking about that we have to foster and carefully grow so that we can accomplish the Lords wishes and hasten His return.

  7. Pastor Tim

    January 14, 2011

    Thanks Michael,

    Well said. I agree that the home setting is by far the best way to nurture, and build relationships. I have been involved in home groups throughout most of my ministry in one form or another as well, and really love the casual intimate setting of the home meeting.

    The early church used both the corporate larger setting as well as the home groups to meet and nurture believers. (Acts 20:20 NKJV) “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,

    I believe that the best scenario is that home groups operate under the authority, and covering of a local corporate body of believers, with the established leadership of a local pastor. This way the church has the larger body to serve as the glue in holding the structure together, and the intimate setting of the home groups to nurture believers.

    Churches throughout the U.S. have been doing this for years, and many have found great success in nurturing believers in this manner.

    My original reason for joining this conversation was that this does not seem to be the approach that most that I have read after are satisfied with. In general I believe that the so called organic church movement that I seem to be reading after in these blogs imagines that the pastor’s ministry, along with the apostle, prophet, etc. is not really needed, and that if we would just get out of the way believers would just flourish where they are planted. I may be over simplifying their argument, but in general this seems to be the tone of much of what I am reading.

    Unfortunately it is difficult to see the bigger picture in a blog post format, so it does limit the conversation.

    Most of what I have read appears to be a knee jerk reaction to very structured, unbending denominational churches. While there are wonderful men and women of God leading many of these local churches I realize that these structures can seem stifling to personal expression and growth in ministry.

    Unfortunately I believe what happens with many people, is they leave these churches out of frustration, and rather than allowing God to lead them to a better fit, and a pastor and church where their gifts can be put to use in the body, they abandon the corporate body and then throw rocks at it.

    The over all tone of most of what I read in these blogs is really quite hostile toward pastors, and the traditional notion of church. I realize that this is a common reaction when people have been frustrated and unsatisfied in these churches.

    This is the bottom line as I see it. People will ultimately do whatever they want to do, and no one is going to stop them. People will continue to leave the traditional model of the church for so called greener pastures so there really is very little I can do to change that.

    I simply disagree with the notion that this is any better than the traditional church setting. Time will tell I guess. Unfortunately I see this as yet another faction of an already fragmented church in the United States. I believe that the reasoning of many in this movement is short sighted, and far over simplified, and will ultimately weaken the church in the United States even more. I hope I am wrong.

  8. MichaelO

    January 18, 2011

    Pastor Tim,
    Thanks for clearing up your position on christian community.
    In your second paragraph above you seem to set up the third paragraph by quoting Acts 20:20? Would you explain that a bit more for me?
    In your third paragraph you state clearly your position.

    ” I believe that the best scenario is that home groups operate under the authority, and covering of a local corporate body of believers with the established leadership of a local pastor. This way the church has the larger body to serve as the glue in holding the structure together, and the intimate setting of the home groups to nurture believers.”

    I had asked you earlier to support that model with Scriptual precedence. But I fail to see that Biblical support so far. I personally fail to see even the implication of your model in the New Testament. But perhaps you as a clergyman can enlighten me a layman?
    In the early 70′s there was a war fought over a little thing called “Shepherding” within christianity. I was right smack dab in the middle of it. It is interesting your terminology is strangely reminiscent of the time. Terms such as “under the authority” and “covering” were the focal point in the war for keeping “sheep” within the “sheepsheds” and battles over “sheep stealing” within christianity.
    Are you aware of the “Shepherding” controversary?
    Briefly, it was a real powerful move of the Holy Spirit. New converts were produced, largely not through established churchs. People within established christianity experiencing something called being filled with the Holy Spirit. All of these newly effected people were looking for deeper meaning and experience within christianity. Pastors of established churchs mainly evangelical type cried foul. They claimed sheep stealing. New churchs started cropping up. Problem was, meet the new boss (pastor), same as the old boss (pastor).
    The new churchs looked just like the old churchs only smaller and the whole thing came to a screeching halt.
    Now a similar thing is happening. The difference I see this time is more Revelation as to how the Apostolic foundation of the first century operated by rightly dividing the Word of God. People want a deeper more meaningful Ekklesia, they want to participate and mature and function in their gifting and are leaving the established mans tradition inspired church. Because the mans inspired traditional unscriptural model is not providing that opportunity to them. They don’t want to watch a guy do the ministry and get paid for it, while they raise money with bake sales and park cars in the lot and seat people in the same seat they sit in for years and pass the hat to collect the money and a million other useless chores. And the pastors are crying foul. One should be very careful not to find oneself on the wrong side of a God thing.

  9. Pastor Tim

    January 19, 2011

    Hi Michael,

    Acts 20:20 reveals that the ministry of the Word took place in larger public assemblies as well as in homes. I believe that this has always been how the church has functioned.

    You asked me to give you Scriptural precedence for the model of the church as I have explained my position.

    First of all Jesus is the head of the church, and the head Shepherd. He in turn delegated His authority to all believers to do the work of the ministry. Within the body of Christ, His church. He in turn established a defined order of delegated authority.

    While it is true that we are all equal as believers, all of equal value, and can all equally do the work of the ministry of the kingdom of God. It is also clear that God has established an order of authority in His kingdom.

    There are the 24 elders around the throne of God in the presence of God who are the highest in authority in His kingdom. (Rev 11:16)

    The twelve apostles clearly were the leaders of the early church, and the people followed their dictates. (Acts 2:42)

    The ministry of an apostle is one of establishing God’s kingdom through new works. The 12 and other apostles raised up new churches and placed Elders as overseers. It is evident that these Elders were in authority over local congregations.

    (1 Peter 5:1-5 NKJV) The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: {2} Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; {3} nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; {4} and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. {5} Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

    (Hebrews 13:17 NKJV) Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

    It is very obvious from Scripture that the church was to be governed by the five fold ministry gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Everyone of the letters of the N.T. were written to local congregations who had either appointed Elders or pastors who were in authority over those flocks. The idea that these local churches were without overseers is just not supported by the N.T.

    The Shepherding movements was unscriptural, and clearly a distortion of Scripture. Again, I contend that just because a few people abuse their positions of authority, does not give us liberty to abandon it all for some other model.

    The ministry of the Levites, in serving the Tabernacle, and latter the Temple, could hardly be called useless. Many of the Levites performed what we might call menial tasks like cleaning up manure from animals, and hauling away remains. God did not consider them second rate ministers. The ministry of helps is mentioned in the same sentence as the apostle, and prophet, in 1 Cor 12:28.

    Those gifted to teach or preach are not any greater in God’s eyes. A pastor may serve as an overseer of a local church, but this simply means he is responsible to care for the nurture of that body as a shepherd. To assume that parking cars, cleaning toilets, and caring for babies are useless is a great disservice to those who do so as unto the Lord.

    People who refuse to submit to God’s overseers are not only in rebellion, they are in danger as well. God put these ministries in the body for a reason. The pastor’s gift is a stabalizing gift, and will bring stability to people’s lives.The gift of the pastor is more than a man ordained office, it is a God given gift to the body of Christ.

    Michael, I am not sure if you have ever served as a pastor, but I assume by your posts that you have not. I am sorry if you have been wounded by careless shepherds in your past, who have perhaps not handled the Word of God rightly. However I urge you to let go of your resentment toward those who serve faithfully as pastors.

    I have been a pastor for many years, and believe that I am called to serve people, not Lord over them. I have washed my congregation’s feet as an act of love to them. I have done pretty much every so called lowly job in the ministry to my congregation that there is. I continue to shovel snow if needed, help with Children’s Ministry, Youth etc.

    The ministry is not about our glory, but God’s glory. (Mark 9:35) Jesus sat down and called the 12 apostles to him. He said, “If anyone wants to be the most important, then he must be last of all and servant of all.”

  10. MichaelO

    January 23, 2011

    Pastor Tim,
    Enjoy the dialogue with you. Perhaps I can clear up some things for you as to my position on christian community life.
    Acts 20:20 says “publicly” (desmosios) in public: – common, openly, publicly. It does not refer to larger public assemblies such as a large corporate church as you imply. In Acts 18 + 19 Paul preached publicly to Jews preaching the Word to convert Jews to faith in Jesus. In addition preaching was always done to unbelievers. Teaching was always done to believers in Christ.
    Earlier in December you stated that “the apostles continued in their traditional form of worship in the Temple and the synagogues, this worship was adapted from the model given in the Old Testament.” No they didn’t. See: Acts 18:4-7; 12; 13. Acts 19: 8-10 etc.
    You state: ” He Jesus in turn established a defined order of delegated authority.”
    Please provide Scriptural proof?
    I think Jesus established an order of love and submission unto one another and leadership springs from that.
    You state: “The 24 elders around the throne of God…who are the highest in authority..” (Rev 11:16)”
    It does not say that?
    You state: “The 12 apostles clearly were the leaders of the early church and the people followed their dictates.” (Acts 2:42)
    You are adding to the Scripture here. Also different ancient manuscripts say different things in this verse.
    You state: “…Apostles raised up new church’s and placed elders as overseers. It is evident that these elders were in authority over local congregations.”
    Common practice was for the assembly to recognize elders who God raised up and then hands were laid on by the assembly of believers. I notice you said overseers plural. Also where in Scripture is authority the emphasis. Love and submission to one another is the emphasis. Define “authority over?”
    In your defense of your singular pastor model as the dominant feature of western christianity presently, you quote (1 Peter 5:1-5).
    1) It says nothing about a pastor.
    2) The language is all plural.
    3) It talks only of a plurality of elders.
    4) It does not say a single pastor.
    5) It says nothing of authority as you describe.
    6) It says to the plurality of elders to shepherd exercising oversight not by lording it over but by proving to be examples.
    7) “You younger men”, likewise be subject “to older ones.”
    8 “All” and one to another being subject. It says ALL.

    As to your proof for a singular pastor central figure running an assembly receiving his living wage from the flock and doing the ministry and having central authority 1 Peter 5:1-5.
    To recap it says nothing about authority, but everything about submission one to another.
    There is a very good New Testament scholar named John Zens who says there are 58 “Unto one anothers” in the New Testament.
    He does not say this but I do, there are no pastor unto you in the New Testament.
    In further defense of your singular pastor central authority model you quote (Heb 13:17).
    Again the language is completely plural.
    17: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account, Let them do this…”
    “Leader(s)”, “them,” “they,” “those,” “them,”
    Pastor Tim perhaps you overlooked the total plural language of those who in humility and submission functioning in leadership by example are never referred to in the singular authority role. Always a plurality of elders all in love and submission.

    “Pastor” does not appear in the New Testament.
    The word “pastor(s)” appears once in the New Testament.
    “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” (Eph 4:11)
    Pastors is connected to teachers unlike the prior three. For a word (pastors) that appears just one time in the entire New Testament. It is very peculiar if just not strange that the present modern model of the role of the singular pastor completely dominates western christianity as it does. Especially in view of the fact the one time the word appears it is in plural form connected to teachers.
    There is zero support in the New Testament for the overwhelming, dominate, universal, practice of sola pastora (single pastor).
    Nowhere in the NT is it expressed or implied or assumed that a singular pastor runs a local assembly of believers. Frank Viola and George Barna bring up the fact in the book Pagan Christianity that there is more biblical authority for snake handling (Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6) given the fact pastor shows up just once.
    Pastor Tim you have asked if I have ever been a pastor. No. I have never been.
    I don’t believe that there is such a thing Scripturally. I can not see even a hint of a modern model pastor in the Bible.
    I have served in a plurality of deacons.
    I have served in a plurality of elders.
    I have had hands laid on me and been sent out by the ekklesia to the work.
    But I have never been a sola pastora (solo pastor).
    I am troubled by some of your statements Brother Tim.
    You state that satellite home groups need to be under the covering and authority of a local pastor and his church is the glue that holds the whole thing together.
    I don’t see it.
    You talk about authority all the time but never submission unto one another.
    A local singular pastor providing covering and authority is nowhere in the Bible but ministry unto one another is in the Bible 58 times.
    I would like to say I believe most pastors honestly have a heart for God. I want to distinguish that I think the system is broken that the pastor is trying to work.
    I have detailed above a basic idea of why I think the church is in crisis just from the sola pastora stand point. There are many other contributing factors.
    Hope this explains my position a little clearer for you.

  11. Pastor Tim

    January 25, 2011

    Dear Michael,

    Thanks for your comments. I can see that we simply disagree with some basic interpretations to our view of Scriptures in several areas.

    You stated: Acts 20:20 says “publicly” (desmosios) in public: – common, openly, publicly. It does not refer to larger public assemblies such as a large corporate church as you imply. In Acts 18 + 19 Paul preached publicly to Jews preaching the Word to convert Jews to faith in Jesus. In addition preaching was always done to unbelievers. Teaching was always done to believers in Christ.

    According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon the word desmos used in Acts 20:20 is ‘the mass of people assembled in a public place.’ So yes Paul was referring to ministering to a congregation gathered for worship in a corporate setting. Paul sated that he taught them publicly & from house to house. He was obviously referring to teaching the saints, not preaching to the lost.

    (Acts 20:17 NKJV) From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. You will notice that he did not call for the congregation as a whole, because his intent was to teach the elders (shepherds, pastors, older saints) who in turn would teach the congregation. As throughout Scripture we can clearly see that there was a flow of authority.

    Michael, you wrote referring to me that “Earlier in December you (Tim) stated that “the apostles continued in their traditional form of worship in the Temple and the synagogues, this worship was adapted from the model given in the Old Testament.” (You Michael stated) “No they didn’t.” See: Acts 18:4-7; 12; 13. Acts 19: 8-10 etc.

    All of the events in Acts Chapters 1 through 9 occurred in a little more than three years. The events of Chapter 10, and the account of the first Gentile convert, (Cornelius) took place in AD 36.

    This means that every member of the body of Christ prior to Cornelius was a Jew, and as such would have continued to worship in the same manner that they had been raised in. They only abandoned the Synagogues when the non Messianic Jews forced them out. In some instances after Paul’s conversion, the synagogues became filled with Gentile believers who outnumbered the Jews.

    Paul and the rest of the Jewish believers continued to keep the Feasts of the Lord, and other writings of Moses, along with worshipping in synagogues, and the temple, until they no longer could because of persecution.

    Acts 18:4-7 & Acts 19:8-10 have absolutely nothing to do with the church. Paul was going to the synagogues to try to persuade his fellow Jews of Messiah, because he had a heart for his people to see them come to Yeshua as Lord and Savior.

    Pastor Tim

  12. Pastor Tim

    January 25, 2011

    Michael,

    It is obvious from reading the book of Acts that the 12 apostles were the leaders of the early church. Latter as the apostle Paul & Barnabas, along with others were raised up they established new works and were the overseers of those works.
    They in turn would appoint (not hold a vote by a congregation) elders. These were sometimes older people with integrity and wisdom. As the church grew they would develop disciples who they would appoint as shepherds (pastors). Timothy is a prime example of this, as he was placed in the church at Ephesus as an overseer (shepherd/pastor/bishop).

    As I have already stated, Paul called for the Elders of the church not the congregation (Acts 20:17)

    In the book of Revelation, each salutation is given to the angel of the churches. This is the same Greek word for messenger. It only stands to reason that these letters were given to the shepherds/pastors of each of these churches to convey to their congregations.

    Michael, you stated, “I think Jesus established an order of love and submission unto one another and leadership springs from that.” I have already made it very clear that any pastor or leader must lead from a position of humility. We are all called to be servants of one another. Just because someone stands in a position of authority does not mean that they are not a servant. Jesus is the captain of the Lord’s army, and yet when He came to earth he demonstrated the heart of a servant. When He comes back however, He will come to rule the nations with a rod of iron.

    I (Tim) You state: “The 24 elders around the throne of God…who are the highest in authority..” (Rev 11:16)” You in reply (Michael) said “It does not say that?” It is obvious that from where they are in relation to the throne of God that they hold a special position in God’s Kingdom. While we are all equal in value in God’s Kingdom, we are not all equal in the authority that God has placed us in. It is very clear that in the Kingdom that is to come that there will be a definite difference in the authority that we all have. (Matthew 25:23 KJV) His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

    While I agree that the language referring to elders etc. is plural, it was always in the context of those who were appointed by the apostles, etc. These were for the most part all Jewish in the early stages of the church. From a Jewish perspective a disciple followed his rabbi to become like his rabbi or a carbon copy of his rabbi. The early apostles would have simply continued in this model, and passed it on latter to the gentile converts.

    Pastor Tim

  13. Pastor Tim

    January 25, 2011

    Dear Michael,

    This will be my last post on this matter, as I see we simply disagree, and I think it is time to just leave it at that. I understand where you are coming from, and can respect your position. I disagree with your interpretation of some of the areas of Scripture, and obviously you disagree with me.

    I have the book Pagan Christianity, and frankly while I find a great deal of it noteworthy, I believe it is definitely written from a perspective to devalue the work and ministry of the local church, from the traditional understanding of the church. I simply disagree with many of the author’s conclusions and interpretations of the early church.

    The model of the church has stood strong for nearly 2000 years, and has brought about the transformations of entire countries and continents in spite of human failures and flaws. So, now suddenly after 2000 years we are suppose to all resign from our positions as pastors, and embrace a downscaled home church model?

    There are thousands of great churches all over the world with men of God who shepherd them that are sending millions of dollars to missions, and doing the works of Jesus by taking the gospel to the world. It would be completely contrary to God’s will for all of these pastors to suddenly abandon their churches for some other model.

    Unfortunately, most of the people who are proponents of the house church, and non pastor lead church have never served as pastors, or are not serving as pastors. In my estimation until they have done so they really do not have a good understanding of the ministry of the local church, and in the long run may do more harm then good.
    May God bless you in your work in Christ. There is nothing wrong with disagreements. It is a natural part of growth. Just keep on serving Christ as you know, and I will do the same. When we stand before Christ He will judge us each according to our works.

    Your brother in Christ, and fellow laborer,
    Tim

    P.S. I will let you have the final word.

  14. MichaelO

    February 1, 2011

    Pastor Tim and pastors et al,
    I am quite sure this won’t be the final word. That is reserved for Jesus.
    I have enjoyed this dialogue with you. I am saddened by your desire to end it.
    Christianity as we know it is in transition.
    Through Barna Group polling and the proper interpretation of the accumulated data in the book “Revelation”, by George Barna, Barna Books, 2005, is important information that impacts Christianity in America. The following is taken from page 49:
    First is how Americans experience and express their faith. The primary means of spiritual experience and expreassion.
    In 2000 70% attend a church
    In 2025 30-35% will attend a church
    In 2000 5% family
    In 2025 5% family
    In 2000 5% attend alternative faith-based community
    In 2025 30-35% will attend alternative faith-based community
    In 2000 20% Media, arts, culture
    In 2025 30-35% Media, arts, culture
    In statistical terms, this is a mega shift.
    The biggest switch statistically is away from institutional status quo model of doing church to alternative forms. Notice, people are not abandoning their faith, just the current methodology of expressing it. This mega-shift is the result of 7 trends.
    I have detailed the presently accepted normal institutional model before and I know you will agree because you are one. This is what people are abandoning: this current model has a) a singular office of pastor (sometimes accompanied by a pastoral staff, but he is still the head pastor) who is the central figure, dominate, in a hierarchical, authoritative, role.
    b) There is a clear clergy/laity distinction.
    c) Religious activity is done in a special sacred building at specified time.
    d) There is a strict liturgical structure that relegates the laity to a mute observer, seated in a lecture auditorium style.
    e) The central activity is a pastor delivered monologue sermon, from a pulpit.
    f) 80% of all collected money is consumned by clergy salaries, and sacred realestate.
    Presently no matter if Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Pentacostal, or Charismatic, this basic model is followed.
    Versus the first century model clearly outlined within the New Testament. The Apostolic foundational model has: a) always a plurality of co-equal elder/shepherds b) leadership was functional not hierarchical c) itinerant temporary apostolic type worker specialists are brought in to equip the saints d) every member functioned every member participated every member did e) the primary fellowship they met house to house daily f) the lords meal was part of a shared whole meal primarily daily g) ministry was common through the 58 unto one anothers h) the community was dominated by love and submission to one another.
    The present institutional church model will occupy less than 1/3 of the christian experience very shortly.
    Pastor Tim you really avoided the central theme of my above post. Which is there is no Biblical precedence at all, zero, for the singular pastor, such as yourself, in hierarchical position of office in the New Testament.
    Jesus Christ drew a very sharp distinction between the leadership in the world, and the leadership that distinguishes His kingdom.
    Jimmy and Johnny wanted to have those “authority thrones” one on His right hand and one on His left hand in heaven.
    Jesus said: “You know the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whosoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to br first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:25-28)
    Jesus says: “The kings of the gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors’. But it is not this way with you, but the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” (Luke 22:25-26)
    Jesus condemns hierarchical leadership. Hierarchical leadership is alien, estranged, and not native to the New Testament kingdom worldview and practices of plural co-equal submitted leadership, every member functioning, every member participating.
    Paul said: ” From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:16)
    Jesus says: ” But do not be called Rabbi; for one is your teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for one is your leader, that is Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt 23:8-12)
    Pastor Tim said: “So now suddenly after 2000 years are we supposed to all resign from our positions as pastors, and embrace a down scaled home church model?”
    You won’t have to. Shortly you won’t have a “position” as “pastor” because about 70-75% of christians will be in an alternative expression of faith.
    It is not 2000 years for the institutional model but only 1700 years. There was no such thing as a pastor or church building for the first 300 years until Constantine and his mommy got ahold of christianity and made it Rome’s official imperial edict religion and instituted the practices and official positions.

    I will continue in the next post.

  15. MichaelO

    February 1, 2011

    Pastor Tim and pastors in general,

    Pastor Tim said: ” In my estimation until they (laity class) have done so they (laity class) really do not have a good understanding of the ministry of the local church and in the long run may do more harm than good.”
    Actually we priests (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6) may just have a far superior “understanding of the ministry of the local church”.
    Lets take a brief look at the fruits of the present clergy class that prides themself on knowing so much more about the “understanding of the ministry of the local church” that they have been running and are the central hierarchical authority of and should assume the responsibility for the results.
    The following is culled from the book “Revolution”, by George Barna, Barna Books, 2005, pages 30-36.
    “…if the local church is God’s answer to our spiritual needs, then why are most churched christians so spiritually immature and desperate?”
    ” One of the greatest frustrations of my life has been the disconnection between what our research consistently shows about churched christians and what the Bible calls us to be.”
    “So lets take a look at the condition of the 77 million American adults who are churched,”
    1) “The biweekly attendance at worship services is by believers own admission, generally the only time they worship God.”
    2) Eight out of every ten believers do not feel they have entered into the presence of God, or experienced a conection with Him, during a worship service.
    3) Half of all believers say they do not feel they have entered into the presence of god or experienced a genuine connection with him during the past year.
    4) Only one out of four churched believers say that when they worship God, they expect Him to be the primary beneficiary of ther worship…
    5) The typical churched believer will die without leading a single person to a lifesaving knowledge of and relationship with Jesus.
    6) At any given time, a majority of belivers do not have a specific person in mind for whom they are praying for in hope that the person will be saved.
    7) Most churched Christians believe that since they are not gifted in evangelism, such outreach is not a significant responsibility of theirs.
    8) Only 9% of all born again adults have a biblical worldview… The other 91% of born-again adults possess a patchwork of theological views and rarely rely upon those perspectives to inform their daily decisions.
    9) Although the typical believer contends that the Bible is accurate in what it teaches, he or she spends less time reading the Bible in a year than TV…
    10) When asked what constitutes success in life, few believers define success in spiritual terms…
    11) When given the opportunity to state how they want to be known by others, fewer than 1 out of 10 believers mentioned their relationship with God
    12) Churched Christians give 3% of income …and feel pleased at their “sacrificial” generosity.
    13) Fewer than 1 in 10 churched Christians donates 10% of their incomes to churches and non-profits…
    14) When asked to explain their understanding of biblical stewardship less than 1 of 20 includes resources such as time, relationships, ideas, skills
    15) Most believers can not identify anything specific they have ever donated money to they would describe as producing life-changing outcomes.
    16) In a typical week, only 1 of 4 believers allocate time to serving other people. Most time is dedicated to volunteering in church programs that serve congregants; little effort is invested in serving needy people outside the congregation.
    17) Most churched Christians admit to having seen homeless or hurting people in their community or travels during the last year; a very small percentage says they interacted with any of those disadvantaged individuals.
    18) The typical believer would rather give money to an organization to allow it to do good deeds in society than personally assist in alleviating the needs of disadvantaged people.
    19) Fewer than 1 in 6 churched believers has a relationship with another believer through which spiritual accoutability is provided.
    20) The most significant influence on the choices of churched believes is neither teachings from the pulpit nor advice gleaned from fellow congrgants; it is messages absorbed from the media, the law, and family members.
    21) A large majority of churched believers rely upon their church, rather than their family, to train their children to become spiritually mature.
    22) In the average month, fewer than one out of 10 churched families worships together outside of a church service; just as few pray together, other than at mealtimes; and the same minimal numbers study the Bible together at home or work together to address the needs of disadvantaged people in their community.
    23) The likelihood of a married couple who are born again church goers getting divorced is the same as couples who are not disciples of Jesus.
    24) Apart from church based programs, the typical Christian family spends less than 3 hours per month in endeavors designed to jointly develop or apply their faith.
    25) Most Christian parents do not believe they are doing a good job at facilitating the spiritual development of their children.”
    George Barna goes on to qualify the above that he is not church bashing in this exercise.
    I am not going to be quite a nice in my assessment as George Barna is.
    We in christianland have a huge multifaceted problem going on and it is perpetual for 1700 years.
    At the top quote to start this post. Pastor Tim said the priesthood of the every believer “might just do more harm than good” being included in the operation of the “ekklesia”. In the above 25 issues which is the cumulative result of 1700 years of clergy run religion of the local church ministry.
    I ask the clergy authority. Could “we” or more aptly put, Pastor Tim’s “they” do more harm than the actual above detailed present state of churched christianity?
    It is a rhetorical question. I think no, “they” will do better.
    To restate my position that the present model of singular pastor in a central hierarchical role running a local church is the single biggest hinderence to biblical christianity succeeding.
    I offer the following in closing.
    My idea of leadership, authority, and the commonly held modern idea of leadership, authority in the christian community are two very distinctly different ideas.
    I will quote from Adjunct Professor in Ancient History Macquarie University, Robert J. Banks book, “Paul’s Idea of Community”, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. pages 130-133.
    “Despite partial parallels with Pharisaism and the synagogue, Pauls abolition of the distinction between priest and people, sacred and profane, cult and ordinary service has no full precedent among his contemporaries… The breaking down of these distinctions has its basis in certain attitudes of Jesus, but Paul was the first to give explicit expression to it and work out its communal implications in the most thoroughgoing fashion.
    Paul also rejects any formal distinction between official figures and ordinary members in the community. Had he wished to draw attention to the existence of offices as such, there were any number of greek terms he could have used. However, the title arche (compare archon or archegos)–ruler, head, or leader–often possessing in Greek a sense of legality or rank– never refers to individuals within the communities but significantly refers to Christ Himself (Col 1:18 (cf Rom 15:12) or to various subsidiary supernatural powers. (1 Cor2:6,8; Eph 2:2; 6:12)
    The term time, which emphasizes dignity of office and the term timios, which stresses the power inherient in such, are also absent from Paul’s ecclesiastical vocabulary. Instead, as a general term for the service of individuals within the church he uses almost uniformly the word diakonia, “service,” or one of its related forms. Paul chooses a word that is quite everyday in character and that places the issue of dignity or position in a different framework… It is a derived significance and stems from whose servant they are rather than from who they themselves are or even from what they do…Paul holds up as a mode those who in the church who “have devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (1Cor 16:15). Because of this service Jesus rendered and its continuation through the Spirit, he is the arche (Col 1:18) of the community. With his deliberate and consistant choice of this word, Paul rejects the idea of certain people in the community possessing formal rights and powers over ordinary members.
    This renunciation of offices, and of the titles and honors that belong to them radically departs from first century attitudes to religious organization.
    Paul also refuses to draw distinctions between members of the community according to the measure of “holiness” they possess. The principle that keeps Paul from having any leading caste of a priestly or official kind also extends to a rejection of any spiritual aristocracy within the community. All members of the community possess the Spirit. All things are derived through that Spirit and it is given to all equally.”
    The present Old Testament inspired official clergy/laity distinction was replaced at the cross of Jesus Christ and done away with. Actually the synagogue and the spiritual class distinctions in Judaism were not of God and man inspired themself.
    Pastors you need to get your serve on and put on your equal among equals garment on and take off the holy robes because the jig is up.
    Nobody is buying it anymore.
    God bless you my brother in Christ who is my equal in the Spirit in every sense of the word.

  16. KenS

    February 5, 2011

    Well said, Michael O! I don’t think the matter could be put more succinctly.

    George, you’ve cut off the first parts of this post because it got so long, I guess. Would it be possible to get the entire discussion from beginning to end? There were some really good things that were said in this thread and I would like to refer to them for future discussions.

    • Mark K

      February 8, 2011

      KenS,

      If you look directly under my post, on the left hand side, you’ll see “Older Comments.” Click there and it will take you back to the original post from George.

      Mark

  17. MichaelO

    February 23, 2011

    Surely some more people have some thoughts on what the “Crisis of Confidence in the Church”
    means to them or how it has effected them.

  18. katie

    July 15, 2011

    The word of God in the Bible and through Jesus our Lords message will never change That is, or never will be in Crisis These are what we need to focus on as Christians. A rock of knowledge, an examples we can hang onto Words of truth ,not the
    actions or behavior of man .

  19. katie

    July 15, 2011

    The leaders of the Chruch here in America have become very laid back and casual about the Catholic teachings and approch to faith. Our leaders must focus on the grave consequence of behavior and sin.We(Americans ) have a great need for confession again. When people feel nothing is a sin any more , who needs the teachings of the church and getting into heaven?

Add Your Comment