Lets resurrect the churc.., p.3
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       Let's Resurrect the Church, p.3

           Mark Barnes
 
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CHAPTER TWO – 20th CENTURY CHURCH GOVERNANCE

  Congregational church governance has been used for at least four hundred years. Basically, all major decisions are made by the members. One of its major strengths lies in the fact that the members can keep the church leadership, including the pastor, under control. But, as I have seen in reality, it turns churches into bureaucracies bogged down in decision-making 122 and power struggles.123 In 2014, Quentin Kinnison wrote: "… Pastoral leaders are often expected to complete the Master of Divinity degree … in order to be worthy of hire. Yet, upon application of this training in many church contexts, the pastoral leader is often viewed as a threat to the 'way we do things' …" (Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 2-3). One church I regularly attended was having problems between the pastor and some members. This must have been started before I came to that church so I wasn’t sure about the details and I simply did not want to get involved as I was there to worship Christ. You could hear and feel the tension over about twelve months.

  On one occasion, a senior member, who was a retired pastor, gave a short speech during a church service. He said that the in-fighting was damaging the church and should be stopped. Then he said that some churches had been damaged so badly by in-fighting that it can take up to ten years for the church to recover!! TEN YEARS!! What would a newcomer to that church think upon hearing that? Do you reckon they would think to themselves: 'As a newcomer, I look forward to the next ten years of in-fighting in this church??' Of course, not: it would probably put them off attending any church (Jinkins, 20). Why did they even air this problem during a church service? Peter Steinke notes, "… if intense and prolonged, anxiety has a strangling effect, depleting people's energy, disturbing their thinking, and dividing their loyalties …" (Fuller, 9).

  What is the point of that church remaining open? This is absolutely disgraceful but is happening everywhere across the world (Miller-McLemore). According to Terri Elton (p. 34) "… Leadership magazine reported in 2004 that 95 percent of the church leaders surveyed had experienced conflict in their congregations, 20 percent of whom were experiencing it at the time of the survey …" This is gross negligence of Christ’s Church. (Devil 1 … Church 0). Susan and L. Gregory (Greg) Jones were appointed to a church, and members informed them of events that had occurred in that church earlier that year that caused long-standing bitterness (L. Jones, 104-106). Greg says he and his wife "… spent three years at that congregation and at the end … through Susan's very hard work and patient, careful leadership, we had begun to glimpse the possibility of healing what had happened …"

  I congratulate Susan and Greg for their enormous service to Christianity, but to me it sounds like the three years they spent at that church was spent treading water, as opposed to being able to inform us about marvelous spiritual growth in the congregation (Eph 4:13; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25). Look at the key words Greg used: 'hard work', 'glimpse', and 'possibility'. What a waste of the talent that Susan and Greg obviously possess. Imagine if people of the caliber of Susan and Greg had started their own church instead of going to the 'problem church'.

  Michael Bronson says “… Christians, of all people, should be able to get along with others better than anyone else. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us wisdom. We have a ‘new nature’ that allows us to overcome our ‘old nature’ …” (Bronson, Church Splits). And I believe that if there are any experienced Christians in that church who have attained the fullness of Christ, they would walk out and go to another church or start their own church, because those extremely close to Christ just cannot tolerate or settle for anything less than the best.124 Spiritual leaders are "… RESTLESS … they have a holy discontentment with the status quo ..."125 "… there is reproduced in these people … God's own discontent, God's own dissatisfaction, God's own desire for that something more in spiritual measure …" (TAS, Attaining to God's Full Thought); and "… if you are consumed with a burning love for the Lord, you will be very quick of scent as to what is doubtful and questionable … love for the Lord will bring you quickly to see and to sense there is something that needs to be adjusted …" (TAS, His Great Love, 72-73)

  Obviously, most churches are open to the public so that strangers can walk in off the street and worship God. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that every church open to the public have no major dissensions so a stranger can feel comfortable, looked after, and taught the Gospel. Michael Bronson says “… turbulent times in a church can seriously disillusion you and hinder your spiritual growth …” and “… church problems are difficult enough for mature Christians to handle, but they can be devastating to new Christians …” (Bronson, Church Splits). TAS says “… There should be in our hearts, in the first place, a very real concern for the fullest Christian life that it is possible to know … and, in the second place, we should have a deep concern for the most effective possible witness in the world by the Church: that the Church’s testimony in the nations should be as effective as the Lord will have it …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 6-7)

  So a stranger may walk into a church really needing help to find Christ, but, instead, have to witness in-fighting in that church for the next few years. That cannot possibly be “… the most effective possible witness … by the Church …” And as you can see from my ‘Eddie the edge-trimmer’ story, you have to be constantly on your guard to prevent yourself being accidentally caught up amongst the in-fighting and ‘little things’. This is pathetic and an insult to Christ. The church should have drastically changed its membership rules or disbanded. Congregational government does not work in bringing Christians close to Christ, and should be buried. Even Robert Muthiah says, "… I do not intend to gloss over the destructiveness and fragmentation that sometimes mark congregational discernment …" (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 184).

  At the end of this book, I have listed the police management books I studied to qualify for the rank of senior sergeant. So I understand there is no perfect type of organizational system. I worked in government departments as a police officer for more than three decades, and government departments are bureaucracies by necessity. Just like many employees, I was often critical of bureaucracies, and it is well-known they are relatively slow in decision-making and managing change. But during my studies I read a book that said although bureaucracy has these tendencies, no-one has discovered a better system to replace it.126 That really hit home with me and ever since then I have applied that principle to everything. I always ask myself: ‘I know this way of doing things causes problems, but is there a more efficient way, and what is the cost of the more efficient way.’ You say: ‘Well Barnsey, if you say congregational government should be buried, what is the alternative?’

  Let's start with the fact that the three main church models are Congregationalism (e.g. Baptists), Episcopalianism (e.g. Roman Catholics and Anglicans), and Presbyterianism (e.g. Presbyterians, Methodists, Reformed, and Brethren).127 I recommend that unless, within a one year period, churches using these three systems (1) focus solely on Christ being the center of every church activity; (2) tighten membership criteria; and (3) enforce discipline along biblical lines (1 Cor 5; Matt 18:15-17; Osborne); they should dissolve their churches and compensate paid staff where possible. The owner of the vineyard told the worker to cut the Fig Tree down because it had not produced fruit in three years. The worker convinced the owner to give the tree ONE MORE YEAR and if it did not produce fruit, then it would be cut down (Lk 13:6-9).

  I know this may take time for some Christians, due to financial commitments. But the Bible only guarantees us seventy to eighty years on this earth (Ps 90:10), therefore, devoted Christians should break free, start their own churches and preach and write what they want because time is short and the Apostle Paul tells us to make the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16). Of course there is a risk. Owner pastors can become too big for their boots and sometimes have mighty falls (Milne 303). Michael Jinkins details his reasons why h
e believes "… congregations [need] to maintain institutional safeguards to prevent an individual leader's abuse of power …" (Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry …, esp. 14). Daniel Darling says that "Fallen pastors and the inherent danger of celebrity evangelicalism have been ongoing topics of discussion among evangelicals …" And, Sally Dyck says "… there is the potential for arrogance and pride that is always threatening us as leaders … but humility is another Goldilocks phenomenon: not too much, not too little …" (Dyck, 135; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).

  Michael Jinkins says "… no leader can lead with integrity without an appropriate level of confidence in herself. This is quite simply true. But no leader should lead whose trust does not extend beyond herself, and whose self-confidence is unleavened by humility and reverence …" (Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry …, 25; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). I think it is quite clear that being an owner / pastor requires a fine balance between confidence and over-confidence. But, are these risks worth it? I say yes, because, for a start, pastors in traditional churches can never work enough hours to satisfy every demand of their church.

  David Forney says "… Time is also blurred for clergy, who are on call 24/7 … when the boundary between the clergy and congregation is blurred, congregational members regularly intrude with their expectations and critiques upon their clergy …" (Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 18-19; Miller-McLemore, 129). Quite obviously, an owner / pastor can create and maintain their personal and family time (Miller-McLemore, 115). And with the reticence of churches to allow women to become pastors, Joyce Meyer would probably never have been heard of outside of her front gate if she had stayed in a traditional church!!

  Thom Rainer conducted a study which showed that on average a pastor would need to work 114 hours per week to satisfy every expectation of their congregation (Darling) Darling says "... that's crazy …" (Darling). I know some of you may be thinking about yourself: 'I only have a theology degree, therefore, how do I earn a living to keep myself away from church constraints?' Well, there are plenty of manual jobs out there such as stocking / packing / filling shelves in supermarkets. Stocking is not popular work because it is hard, and that is why it is relatively easy to get these types of jobs. But at least then you can get some life experience, grow in Christ, and when you feel ready you only have to hire a relatively cheap hall and start your church.

  I expected to be a police officer until the maximum Queensland retirement age of sixty, but headaches forced me out medically at age fifty-two: that was eight years early. I was not prepared for that: I have no useful skills or qualifications to get a high-paying job. So, from age fifty-three (in year 2013) until the time I write this line in May 2016, I have averaged around twenty five hours per week filling shelves in supermarkets. For about two years I worked thirty-eight hours per week filling. This involves a lot of heavy lifting and the pace is frenetic, therefore I still get tired and sore after three years of it. I am very fit, but not real strong as I am only 175 cm (or five foot nine for my American friends!!) and seventy-five kilograms (11 stone?). But at least I have walked the walk that I am asking you to walk.

  Prior to starting my own church, I want to get a Blog and or Website up and running. My tentative plans are to start my church in a hired hall initially, and operate it part-time. I am presently working 38 hours per week with a good employer and my days off are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I want to open a Tuesday or Wednesday night church to fit in with my work roster. Plus, Queensland has a hot, humid climate, and if my initial hall is not air-conditioned, at least it will be cool enough during the evening. An unintended side-effect of a week-night church is that shift-workers like me can still attend a church during the week. I will most likely operate with sheet music; projector equipment and screen, bulk-purchase Bibles and a lectern. I will not have an office until and unless my church becomes full-time. As of year 2016 I can set all this up for around three to five thousand dollars. I want to put this book and my first book (HTBAC) on my Website (free of charge) so that people can see who I am, what I believe in, and why I believe it.

  And the good thing about operating your own church is that the congregation can vote with its feet. If the pastor is too controlling, manipulative, or there is a lack of transparency in church finances, members or attendees can simply walk out. And, mature Christians will walk out if necessary because they will have such a high level of the Holy Spirit in them that they simply cannot settle for anything second best in any church. (TAS, The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 38) David Forney also says that "… Of the four demand categories explored by Lee, personal criticism appeared to be the greatest contributor toward clergy burnout …" (Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 20; Miller-McLemore). Owner / pastors may still be criticized, but can effectively warn or discipline members of their church if the criticism is said behind the pastor's back, or if a member becomes some type of nagger who is always critical.

  At the very least I ask Christians who are reading this book before they become financially dependent on a particular church denomination to seriously think this issue of constraints through very thoroughly. I believe a devout Christian would not want to be constrained by ecclesiastical loyalty due to the Holy Spirit prompting their conscience to stay away from it. I think I know why congregationalism exists. There is a belief among a lot of Christians “… that the plurality of elders in the New Testament churches is the law by which all autocracy and personal leadership is ruled out and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the headship of Christ alone is preserved …” But TAS says despite the fact that church leadership is always subordinate to the Head of the Church: Jesus Christ; individual leadership is “… in the divine order … [because] the place and function of the shepherd in the Bible is to ‘go before,’ and the sheep ‘follow after’ …” (TAS Leadership, 4-8).

  Let’s look at Joyce Meyer for example. My first book is full of references from Joyce Meyer TV sermons. Without careful and devoted study of Joyce Meyer sermons on top of other study, I believe it would have held my Christian growth back by at least three to five years. If Joyce Meyer was a pastor in a traditional church, her brilliant practical interpretation of daily Christian living probably would not have been available on international media. I spent about five years in traditional churches, and my first book contains quotes from about sixty academic books, about three hundred academic articles, and dozens of Christian TV Channel sermons, but not one quote from a pastor of a traditional church. This is simply because I have never heard any deep and useful messages from traditional church pastors.

  But, when mature Spirit-filled Christians start their own churches they should immediately commence to build up other Christians (1 Thess 5:11-14) to become a ‘ministry team’ of associate pastors, deacons, teachers and leaders of other ministries.129 By ‘immediately commence’ I simply mean that you deliberately and immediately start the process to build Christian attendees into mature Christians, but you build them up slowly, surely, and deliberately.130 Bill Hybels says "… Spiritually gifted leaders have that God-given capacity to attract, challenge, and persuade people. Then they assist them in finding their niche in the achievement of the vision …" (Hybels; Frank 7-9; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 126-127; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …).

  Robert Muthiah says, "… The Gardener is not intent on boldly rushing forward … [but] is intent on nurturing deep understandings that are not just intellectual or theoretical, but are also emotive and visceral in the way that good poetry captures the whole of our beings … the poet asks challenging questions and invites a new way of seeing. The tools of the poet are metaphors and symbols … Functionality has become one of the mantras of our current ideology. Poets do not operate in this kind of world. Metaphors are not intended for functional purposes … Poets use metaphor to create the imagination of an alternative world … We need more than poets to lead o
ur congregations, but we must have poets to lead us in the essential work of interpretation … Nurturing a community of interpreters is a long process. It requires the patience and faith of a Gardener … Empowering the people of God is not primarily about allowing or encouraging them to do certain things. It is about forming a people with eyes to see and ears to hear: faith attributes that, if real, will then emerge in good works (James 2:14-26) …" (Muthiah, Christian Practices, 194-197).

  Karl Vaters says that "… no matter how small our church is, we need to prioritize our time where it's most likely to be of value. That always starts with making our largest investment of time and energy into equipping the saints: especially leaders and potential leaders … use your calling as a shepherd to mentor them …" (Vaters, Pastoring a Church Between 100 and 200 Without Going Crazy; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …). Galatians 6:10 (AMP) says "So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers)."

  Russell West says that "… after he preached the gospel in a city, Paul gathered new Christians into a community, strengthened them in their faith, and appointed elders in every church. He then continued to strengthen (i.e. establish) the churches around them as a base for taking the gospel to new frontiers. If a church was encountering major problems, Paul continued the process of establishing by sending letters and making personal visits …" (West, 137).

  Larry Osborne tells us about a person named 'Tim' entering ministry "… looking forward to working with board members … [and believed that] as long as good people were elected and carefully discipled …" he would have a good working relationship with them. (Osborne). But five years later Tim saw the board as adversaries. Then Tim realized that although the board members "… were sharp people and good leaders …" no-one had taught them the "… unique principles and requirements of leading a spiritual … organization like the church …" Larry had been exposed to the same problem himself years before and "… decided to set up an on-the-job training program to expose our board members to the same insights and principles …" that Larry had learned during ministry training, but "… instead of focusing on … doctrines … he zeroed in on practical theology …" (Osborne; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 129). Larry reminds us that Ephesians 4:11-13 requires pastors to "… equip the rest of the body to do the work of the ministry …" I agree with Larry's views on training board members, but I still maintain that it will be a lot easier on a pastor who runs their own church to build up leaders from within the congregation, than to train existing board members in a church where you are appointed as pastor.

  In any case, please don’t rush this process: you want to assist other people to grow into these abilities no matter how long it takes. Do not try to build your church up into something big overnight. In my first book HTBAC I explain that the kingdom of heaven is about (1) righteousness (2) peace and (3) joy,131 but I explained why I believe patience is a close fourth (Fielder, Pressures …). So, please don’t forget: (1) righteousness (2) peace (3) joy (4) patience. James urges us to have the patience of Job. The book of Psalms is full of advice on waiting patiently for God (e.g.; Ps. 27:14), and TAS says "… Again and again you will find the psalmist crying out because of God's seeming delay or indifference …" (TAS, Faith's Persistency). Harry Foster, writing about the book of Hebrews, says "… We must note the repeated call to patience or perseverance. So much is made to hang on this, indeed it forms perhaps the main thrust of the whole document … 'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us' (Heb 12:1) …" (Bringing Many Sons to Glory).

  I believe active patience is a solid faith principle rewarded by God. Job was rewarded by God for being patient through his suffering. By active patience I mean continually and steadily building up yourself and other Christians to become more Christ-like no matter how long it takes. "But the fruit of the Spirit … is love … joy ... patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting] …" (Gal 5:22 AMP). According to John Piper “… Jesus said in Matt 24:13, ‘He who endures to the end will be saved.’ Paul said in Gal 6:9, ‘Let us not grow weary in well-doing.’ We live in a day when immediate gratification is usually demanded. That means that very few people excel in the virtue of perseverance …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader)

  I believe we need a ministry team because of Acts Chapter 6. The Twelve Disciples did not have a ministry team, and there was an argument among the other disciples about unfair distribution of food to the widows. Let's divide them into three groups: (1) The Twelve selected some (2) other disciples to choose (3) seven disciples for food distribution. I believe the modern equivalents are:

  (1) The Twelve is the modern pastor;

  (2) The other disciples are the leadership group / ministry team; and

  (3) The seven disciples are spiritually mature members of the congregation.

  In relation to number (1) above "The Twelve is the modern pastor"; I understand this issue is a bit more complex than meets the eye, because Kinnison writes: "… New Testament scholars are equally perplexed by the function or role of pastor in relation to that of overseer or bishop and disagree concerning whether or not a pastoral office was intended by New Testament writers …" (Kinnison, Shepherd or One of the Sheep …, 65-66). But I am addressing it as it actually is in real-life churches today.

  Notice that it wasn’t just one of The Twelve who delegated the food distribution problem, it was the whole twelve (Acts 6:1-7). So, why are modern churches putting so much responsibility for menial tasks on pastors? (Martin, 83-85) I’ll tell you why, because the Devil has prompted church authorities to overload the pastor with so many menial duties the pastor cannot be effective (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 34-35; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25). All the mainstream churches keep telling everyone that their structures are biblical. I strongly disagree. None of The Twelve Disciples had to take part in the decision-making process to appoint people for menial tasks. The Twelve only had to hear (oversee) the reasons why the team members selected the seven people. WHY? Acts 6 tells us it was so the Twelve could concentrate on the MAIN mission which was to "… continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:4). Eric Alexander says "I think that it is obvious that the establishing of these priorities so early in the church's life was absolutely crucial for its future, and I have little doubt that a similar approach can be equally crucial for permanent profit in our own lives and ministry … the apostles found that they had clearly to establish their priorities …" (Alexander, A Question of Priorities).

  Look at Moses. Despite being the greatest prophet in the Old Testament, he risked burnout because he tried to do EVERYTHING (Exodus 18:14-18). After 34 years of full-time church ministry, Joseph Mattera has “… seen many a leader lose their zeal for God …” and despite Joseph not burning out during that time through “… a strict diet, regular exercise and spending time with God each morning …” he has been “… forced to change his patterns because he has exhausted much of his mental energy …” due to “… having never taken more than 10 days off for vacation … and never taking off one full day per week to rest his mind …” (Parker, 165-169; Miller-McLemore). Parker says "… Jesus frequently withdrew from ministry endeavors for spiritual seclusion at key times because their very scope and importance required significant interaction with God …" (Lk 5:16; Parker 167)

  Please make yourself familiar with this article because Joseph lists 10 signs of burnout and 5 ways to recover (10 Signs of Leadership Burnout and 5 Ways to Recover, by Joseph Mattera).132 Each duty in a fairly large church, such as budgets, can easily be delegated to competent members (Zscheile, 179-180; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 15). But these duties shouldn’t be lumped on competent members for the sake of it. They should be informed that they will undertake those duties so that
they can learn and understand how a church is financially operated, so that they have a clear picture of church management before they become pastors. Rotate your competent members through each type of duty and help them build their resume. According to Russell, "… Paul said the purpose of pastors and teachers were 'to prepare God's people for works of service.' This would imply that the laity are the ones who do the good works and the clergy are there to prepare them for it …" (1 Tim. 2:5 vide Russell, 90). And, if you are NOT using the principle of “Sowing Generously” and you are running your budget just like a secular pony club, then you can pay a secular accountant to do it: why take the pastor’s focus off SPREADING THE GOSPEL??

 
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