Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who is "Lord" in your church?

If your answer is an immediate and indignant "Why, Jesus is Lord in my church," you may want to think about just who really arranges things in the daily life of your congregation.

I am familiar with a church who called a pastor only to be disappointed by him for offending the most prominent member of that church. The offenses began when the new pastor preached a sermon on one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the Word of God and its central place in his ministry. Mr. Prominent heard an entirely different sermon and was, as he put it, "so mad I could'a chewed nails and spit sawdust."

Mr. P called the pastor on Monday saying that he and the pastor "needed to sit down and chaw awhile." Well P brought a legal pad filled with his interpretation of the sermon that he heard (not the one that was actually preached). When the pastor suggested that P get the sermon tape as the pastor was going to do and listen to it to see if there was any truth to the accusations P brought, he politely declined to do so. For goodness sake, don't let facts get in the way of one's point.

Anywho, after one or two more such sermons, Mr. P and the Mrs. left for a more loving church. But then after, I don't know, maybe two years, there they were, sitting in their pew. And the next day came the phone call, another chaw was demanded. This time P came with help, we'll call him "D," for deacon. D hardly said a word as P raked the little pastor over the proverbial coals with another legal pad filled with blatantly false accusations. And every single accusation had to do with the pastors preaching and strong stance on the Word of God. There were no hints of anything immoral or otherwise, just the pastor's theology.

D's only comment was to remind the pastor that he, the pastor, had referred to an apostate pastor in the community as a heretic. And I, rather the pastor, stuck to his guns and reminded D why Mr. A (for "apostate") was indeed a heretic.

But then came the end of this chaw time when P declared that there were so many new people in the church now that when he came back he hardly knew anyone. And he said boldly that he wanted things the way they used to be; us 4 and no more. It was more like 34 when the new pastor arrived. But then the Holy Spirit (leave it to Him to mess things up) began to bring people to the cross and several dozen were baptized. "Ok. We've got to stop this. We're gettin' the baptismal all wet."

So, to whom did the little church listen? God? Heaven forbid! They wanted Mr. and Mrs. P back. After all, he was the head of this church for years. And we also miss his offerings; P was wealthy. Now the church got what it wanted; it is led by P, supported by P, and full of P...., and 33 other people.

What part does Biblical love, faith, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, prayer and Christian discipline and fellowship have in the daily adminstration of your congregation? How commited are you and your brethren to the Lord Jesus Christ and your pastor (that is, if he is a God-called pastor)? Who leads in making big and little decisions in your church? How are the meetings in your church conducted? When it comes down to it, do committees actually run your chuch? Do you have a Mr. P or a Mrs. P in your church who have the final say in almost all matters? When was the last time a committee turned to prayer and the Word for guidance in making a decision?

Elders, pastors, and deacons are a necessary and Biblical part of church life; but they are not head of the church. Only Jesus is Lord and Head of His church. Then it stands to reason, does it not, that He should be consulted in the carrying out of His church's duties? And His church's duties are to be carried out by His godly and Spirit-filled servants who love His word and His people and exalt Him to His rightful place as Lord and Head of the church. Anything less disqualifies a gathering of people as His church.