My friend, Greg Albrecht, provided the following. It’s a fascinating, and sobering, postscript to my previous blog on “Nones and Dones: “The number of unchurched people in America would make the 8th most populous country in the world!”
I am often asked: When is it appropriate to challenge or confront my church leadership? There is a full spectrum of opinions about the definition and expression of leadership in the church. There is also a broad spectrum of opinion on if, when, and how to confront church leadership. Jesus is our example in this matter, whether we like His example or not. Take my little “Leadership Legitimacy” survey and discover what Jesus would have you do.
Ministry is a word that evokes many strong feelings. Our individual history and experiences likely shape our definition and expression. I don’t define ministry by clergy-laity distinctions. All of life is ministry. The effort anyone engages in, at any time, in any arena, for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom and His interests in people, is ministry. Ministry can be diversified and specialized in the sense of Ephesian 4 callings, but everyone does “ministry” (or should!) and everyone needs to be free of addicted to ministry syndrome!
When Ministry Misleads
Those called to engage in ministry (especially, but not limited to, Ephesian 4 types) must learn a difficult lesson of the Cross. Ministry can be a church-world-acceptable veneer for carnal drive, ambition, and general psychological unwellness.
Our identity, soul wellness, and sense of fulfillment in life must come from our status of being His beloved sons and daughters, not from what we build or accomplish in ministry.
The mess at the Mars Hill Church and the “network” led by Mark Driscoll, spurred some thoughts today.
I pray for the day western evangelicalism gets free of celebrityism, but I am not holding my breath. The Mars Hill controversy makes a case for my one line summary of Rene Girard’s mimetic theory of scapegoatism: “We make kings so we can tear them down when they fail.” How many times will this scenario have to play out before we understand that the entire SYSTEM is flawed. The dependency on the pope, priest, or Protestant mini-popes/pastors/ministers/bishops/apostles/prophets/superintendents/general big-dog-chieftain . . . whoever . . . is intrinsically flawed.
City church is a concept/belief that only one church legitimately exists in a any city, and that it should be overseen by elders of the city, who then submit to regional apostles (overseers, bishops, superintendents–whatever your tradition calls the greater function.). The idea and its variants are prevalent in many so-called apostolic and prophetic groups and communions today, though not confined to those groups. It’s proposed that God wants to restore governmental order to the church under geographic delineations so it can fulfill its destiny in unity. Some consider the concept an essential for the realization of John 17 unity. In this lengthier (apologies in advance) than normal blog, I present twelve considerations or challenges to this idea. I am endeavoring to explore the implications, motives, and pitfalls inherent with the idea. I hope to make the case that relationships, not geography, nor hierarchy, establish spiritual authority and spiritual jurisdictions.
Would you listen to, or value the opinion, of someone who has memorized a restaurant’s menu, can explain it in flawless detail, can argue why their restaurant preference is better than the restaurant down the street, but who has actually never tasted the food on the menu they are talking about? We do it in Christianity all the time. We think accurate mastery of Bible stuff = life and substance. We think because we can explain the life of Jesus or Paul, that we possess the life of Jesus or Paul. Not necessarily. Just because someone has a strong opinion on a trendy topic based on the latest book they’ve read, or can debate this or that doctrine, or understands the Bible, etc., does not mean he or she is worth listening to . . . even if their stuff is “right.” It is those for whom the word has become flesh, those who are living it, not philosophizing about it, that are worth being listened to. Any fool can have an opinion on the restaurant. Only those who have paid the price to eat a meal there, are worth listening to.
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A leader is not the chief visionary. A leader is not the chief executive. A leader is someone who accepts the stress and strain of the present inconvenience of service in order to bring the ones he/she serves to fullness of destiny.
The following true story was so poignant, timely, necessary, and clearly illustrative of why I no longer partake of common expressions of organized charismatic religion, I asked my good friend, Bryan Corbin, to guest-blog for me.
A recent incident, involving a young woman that Corbins have known for years, served to reinforce Bryan’s and my belief that much of what we call “church” misses the heart of God completely.
Understanding Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 is critical to understanding all of the new testament and the genuine spiritual authority of a new covenant priesthood. These two Psalms are the scriptural base the apostles used to “justify” the existence of a new order of priesthood based on resurrection life! It is not an exaggeration to say, that the apostle’s interpretation and application of these two Psalms is the doctrinal foundation of the entire new testament, as they tried to explain the “Christ-event” to their generation.
Abusive spiritual authority is epidemic. Reactionary responses to abusive authority are also epidemic. My friends Don Atkin, Greg Austin, and myself address what genuine kingdom authority looks like: a serving nation of priests, patterned after the Head, the High Priest of our faith, the resurrected God-man, Jesus, the Messiah. That requires, as Desi used to say to Lucy, “some ‘splainin’.”