There is more behind “amen” than intellectual consent or emotional enthusiasm for an abstract concept.
Jesus is simple. The Bible isn’t. Jesus is deeply, profoundly, unknowably, unfathomably, costly, and painfully–simple.
If you have followed me any length of time, you know I am not shy about critiquing the corruption and short comings in institutional and organized forms of Christian religion. I know many of you, like myself, have experienced not just poor church experiences, but scarring and damaging ones. Many are wary, rightfully so. Many are in extreme forms of reaction, both theologically and emotionally to anything formally structured or organized in terms of following Jesus with others–being the people of God together practically. Frankly, some have lost hope and given up.
That is why this post is so important. I have permission to share it and have blanked-out personal names to maintain privacy.
I believe this real-life, real-time letter from a pastor I know personally embodies the values and the transformative power of what can happen in a local church REGARDLESS of how it is STRUCTURED, when Christ is exalted and central at all times, where the good news of the gospel is relentlessly preached in a simple yet powerful way, and where loving and serving each other is all that matters practically.
I believe it will be worth your time to read.
I have been a follower of Christ for forty-two years. For thirty-four of those years I have been self-employed. Fewer things are more offensive to unbelievers, and more undermining to the Lord’s testimony in the earth, than vocally “Christian” business people whose true God is the love of money and whose business ethics resemble more of Bernie Madoff and Martin Shkreli than Jesus Christ. Being a Christian in business is more than having a fish sticker on the bumper of your business vehicle. It is having a Jesus stamp on your heart.
Part Four of the Church Refugee Sanity Guide, presents ways to recover from the pain we will likely experience in our relationships (church, family, and friends) when we are misunderstood because we no longer participate in traditional forms and expressions of “church.” If you or someone you know has been damaged, accused, threatened or other wise spiritually abused in a religious atmosphere, I entreat you to watch this video (as well as Part Five that will be coming next in this series). I think they are the most helpful and practical things I have ever done in this regard.
Within Charismatic circles, there is a widely influential subset group called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). One of their strongly held beliefs is the necessity of submitting to an alleged “apostolic covering” or maintaining what is called “governmental alignment” to a “covering apostle.” It is alleged that failure to do so, cuts off heavenly blessing and opens the individual to spiritual dangers and demonic attacks. The Protestant forefathers must be rolling over in their graves. They gave their life’s blood to do away with the belief system that required a class of religious professionals to broker or mediate the blessings of heaven to the believer. It is beyond painful to see the resurrected form of this doctrine being espoused in so-called apostolic churches and foisted under the banner of “new revelation,” “restoring apostolic covering,” and “restoring apostolic authority.” It is not new revelation. It is old heresy in a new dress.
Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
I had the privilege of doing a podcast interview with my friend Loren Rosser concerning my new book. Part One of the podcast is available here:
The Kindle version of the book is available here:
Soft cover should be available in October 2015.
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.
The expression of pastoral ministry in the church can tend to aggregate at extremes in the Body of Christ. On the one hand you can have pastors who are oppressed by domineering and controlling board members and elders, whose mission in life seems to be to be to break pastors down and keep them in poverty. On the other hand, you can have pastors who think themselves as demi-gods at the top of a pyramid hierarchy who think people are little more than resources given by God to them to fulfill carnal ambition rooted in insecurity and thinly veiled as “corporate vision.” In Part One here, by my friend, Nick Vasiliades, explains why fundamental values and ideas in most western churches of how pastors are expected to function are the underlying reasons for so many misconceptions and malpractice of one of the necessary, precious, and legitimate gifts of the resurrected and ascended Lord to His church. Is it possible to be a supernaturally gifted “carer of souls” and avoid reactionary expressions? Yes, but not as long as we cling to biblically baseless definitions, values, and expressions of pastoral ministry.