The following are some key points from Joe McKeever’s insightful article The Church’s Dirty Little Secret which answers the question:
Why does the church— which is the institution which we Christians should respect the most— end up being the least respected by many in the church? And why is the pastor the least respected professional of all?
The article points out the following reasons:
1. They, the spiritually immature in the church, see the church as a human institution belonging to them.
2. They see the pastors as their employees, there to do their bidding and accountable to them. (I actually had a deacon once tell me, “Pastor, I was here before you came and I’ll be here when you’re gone.”)
3. They see God’s work as something the professionals do and their roles as volunteers when it’s convenient and easy. Ah, it’s the old, “Let the hired holy-man do the hard stuff, I’ll just buy my ticket and watch from the cheap seats.”
4. They see their contributions (money, service, teaching, etc.) as voluntary and not required.
5. They see their church’s reputation in the community as irrelevant and unity as beside the point.
6. They see their childish behavior as no one’s business but their own. Poor little boo-boo kitty.
7. They see themselves as the center of their own universe and think everything revolves around them. In fact, just this morning I read the following:
Q: How does a narcissist screw in a light bulb?
A: He holds the bulb and stands still while the world revolves around him. Sad, but true.
Finally, the article sums up the magnitude of the problem by quoting a pastor, fresh out of seminary, serving his first church. He says:
“Church is the only place on earth where people can throw hissy fits and get away with it.” Ouch.
And we all know, church life is not meant to be like this.
If you, like me, find yourself in a church family that functions like a family, you are indeed blessed. And if you don’t, what are you prepared to do about it?
Don’t you think it’s about time you packed your bags and caught the first train out of Laodicea?
One more post about Elevation Church and pastor Steven Furtick.
The following are 30 reasons affirming to their employees that Elevation Church is the Best Place to Work. Pay close attention to numbers 1, 3, 7 and 16.
1. We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.
3. We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.
7. We serve a Lead Pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.
16. We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.
I find it beyond disturbing that the employees of Elevation Church are encouraged to serve a man, Lead Pastor Steven Furtick, and not the Lord Jesus Christ. Does that bother you? Does that seem to be getting pretty close to man-worship manipulation and idolatry? It does to me.
Oh, and don’t forget number 23.
23. Two words: game time— we love competition.
Really. But who are you competing with? Other churches and other Christians? Boy, talk about unity in the body of Christ. Oh wait, my bad. I forgot that you defined unity as all falling in line lockstep to the vision and leadership of Steven Furtick… at least that’s what you’re teaching those innocent and impressionable young minds with your children curriculum.
And if that wasn’t enough… well, there’s always Steven’s Hey Haters video. Just what I adore in a pastor, true humility.
The following from Elevation Church and their pastor, Steven Furtick, is frightening. This is a page from the materials Elevation uses to teach their children. Note what it says at the bottom:
Elevation Church is built on the vision God gave pastor Steven. We will protect our unity in supporting his vision.
Question: Whose vision are we protecting? God’s or Steven’s? And what if Steven’s vision differs from God’s vision? Where does our allegiance lie? I understand that it’s Biblical to follow Steven as Steven follows Christ… but what if Steven stops following Christ? What do I do then?
According to what Elevation’s children are being taught, follow the man, follow Steven, support his vision.
Reminds me of the Wehrmacht Oath of Loyalty to Adolf Hitler, issued on August 2, 1934:
“I swear by God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.”
It could read:
“I swear by God this sacred oath that to the Leader of Elevation Church and its people, Steven Furtick, supreme pastor and visionary of our church, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave church member shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.”
But that’s another post for another day.
It is a dangerous thing to seek the approval of man rather than obedience to Christ. And it is the hallmark of the Laodicean times in which we live.
Consider the words of Oswald Chambers:
Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful— to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say— “I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching me and saying, Well done.”
It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people’s feet. Suppose God wants to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased”— are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket— to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity.
For me, the answer is a resounding, Yes! Come join with me, will you?
The following is a powerful statement from Trevin Wax, former associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN.
All I can say after reading it is: “By George, I think he’s got it!” And I wish others would get it also.
In most churches, membership requires little more than a public declaration of faith and a quick trip through the baptistery. After meeting these requirements, members hear vague notions about being involved in stewardship, discipleship, and service.
Perhaps we are cheating church members.
We assume that most church members won’t evangelize, so we’re happy to stick with the very few who understand the mandate.
We assume that most church members will not get involved in a demanding Bible study, so we water down our teaching to appeal to the masses.
We assume that many church members will never tithe or give of their time in service to the community for the glory of our King, so we budget accordingly.
At best, we hope that people will act on our suggestions.
Our churches don’t know what they’re missing:
- The thrill of leading someone to Christ.
- The excitement of discovering God within the pages of his Word.
- The satisfaction of making an impact in the community in the name of Christ.
- The joy of giving cheerfully to the local church.
- The higher the demands, the higher the payoff.
Perhaps we should stop designing worship services, discipleship programs, and youth events for the “average Christian” (aka – the Christian we don’t expect anything out of). Instead, let’s refocus on our church covenants and clearly communicate the expectations for being a disciple in the kingdom of God.
We receive little because we expect little. And church leaders, church members, and especially a lost world – we all miss out because of our low expectations.
I live in a great, very old city. It was begun hundreds of years ago in an area that was, at that time, largely agricultural. Down through the years it was known for producing world-class wool. Over the centuries the city grew, changed its name and became a diversified business community. Located right on a major highway, the city also became a center for transportation, as well as commerce.
Because the businesses of the area have been profitable, the people who work in them have enjoyed great economic success. In fact, there is no real poverty in this area so I guess it would be okay to say that economically no one is lacking. Pretty cool, right?
The people of this area are interesting and very diverse — many different races and lifestyles — but everyone is exceedingly tolerant. In fact, our town is rich in tolerance and understanding, with a philosophy of “Live and let live.”
While there is lots of acceptance about different philosophies and lifestyles, there are some things we just will not allow to happen here. For instance, we do not allow radical positions nor do we allow anything extreme that would upset the core values of the area. We are a culturally relevant community — let me give you an example of what I mean.
As a community, we are open to churches of all faiths as long as they do not promote extreme positions. If some firebrand with a heated-up message of his own belief system comes to town and tries to trumpet that position, he is firmly told to be quiet and tone down the message or move on. We have rules and laws against that kind of extreme behavior!
Churches are to serve the people and not to proselytize. Those who go out and try to convince people that their belief system is right and others are wrong are considered extremists, and in a culturally relevant city like this that is a definite no-no! As I said, the churches are to serve the people and let the people come to them if they feel they need some form of religious experience in their lives.
All the different religions get along just fine here because, as we see it, they are all about the same thing. They worship the same God and they are moving toward the same ultimate destination. The churches just have different names and different ways to achieve the same end result.
Personally, I am drawn to the Christian church. I like their people, I like the way they do things, and I like their message. It is a message that makes me feel good about myself. Our church is the greatest place in the world to meet people. There are lots of singles because marriage is considered old-fashioned and same sex relationships are accepted. My live-in boyfriend and I met at one of the mixers for singles at the church and we are planning to have a church wedding next spring. Hey, there are even lots of “grey hairs” among us!
I like the social activities and the way the churches build us up with the emphasis on personal success and how to get the most out of life. I find this kind of approach very edifying.
A little earlier in the article I mentioned extremism and our church is a good example of how that can be handled. We had a couple of incidents recently that our church leadership had to deal with.
One of them was an outside group that came into town and began telling people in our church that the Bible was the final authority for everything that relates to the Christian Church. In addition, this group proclaimed that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was not the center of our church at all! Well, you can imagine how that went over. The church leadership had to get involved and remove these people by force. In the process there were some pretty strong conversations about Jesus, the Bible and the place they used to have in the church. We are way beyond that kind of thinking now. We still keep the Bible and images of Jesus around but only to remind us of where we came from. I mean, really now, is the Bible, which was written at least two thousand years ago, relevant to us today? I mean — really?
And then there was another group that came and were “way out there” extreme. They started talking about prophecy! Lots of our people are really into prophecy like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce and all that stuff, but these guys were discussing prophecies about this town. Apparently a portion of the book of Revelation has the name of our city in it. You can imagine how upset the leadership got when this group told us we needed to repent and get right with God. We sent that group packing in a hurry!
The name of our church is “The Door” and one of this prophecy group had the audacity to say, “Jesus wants to come and bless your lives. He is standing at ‘the door’ and knocking.” How weird is that?
Hey, in my rush to tell you all about our city, I just realized I forgot to tell you the name of our great town. It’s Laodicea, one very laid-back place to live!
Written by David Patterson. You can find more about him – HERE