Many Baptist brothers and sisters have grieved as they witnessed a man with charisma and personality take a pastorate, preach a watered-down, feel good gospel and rapidly increase the membership roll with unregenerate people by appealing to the flesh with various programs.
Building programs invariably follow. Congregational singing is replaced with a praise band. Turn down the lights and turn up the sound. Make it feel like a night club and appeal to that flesh. Stand up and wave those hands or you’re not worshiping!
Bible study and discipleship are no longer necessary. They’re replaced with small groups, life groups, recovery groups, and basketball leagues. The more we conform to the world the more comfortable they will feel when they visit. If they see that there’s no difference between us and them maybe they’ll come back!
The church constitution, by-laws and covenants have to go. Way too restrictive on a pastor that only has the good of the flock in mind. Business meetings are just a waste of time and no longer necessary. We can do all the Lord’s business with committees packed with the pastor’s friends. Just trust him.
Ready for more staff members? You’ll need a Search Committee and a Personnel Committee but don’t worry about travel expenses for them. The pastor knows a great candidate. Don’t worry about the candidate’s doctrine or morals. Just trust the pastor. No need for the church to discuss and vote. Pastor’s friends on the committee will take care of vetting and hiring. They will be sure to let you know if anything comes up that requires your attention.
Have an issue with any of that? Just meet with the pastor and he’ll set you straight real quick. His work here is not done until he can retire with full benefits, anoint his replacement, assume the position of Pastor Emeritus and continue to run the show.
A few weeks ago the Lord providentially used a brother to provide me with a small book entitled “God’s Blueprint For A Church”. The book authored by Kenneth H. Good in 1974. I wish I had read it 20 years ago.
The following excerpt struck me. May the Lord be pleased to use it for His glory and the good of His flocks.
Baptists who insist too strongly on the “authority” of the pastor, especially where this tendency has been allowed to develop into a virtual dictatorship, may find themselves ensnared in an unbiblical situation which (apart from the liturgy and the ceremony) more closely resembles the Roman Catholic parish than it does the true church sovereignty of the New Testament.
This has been well stated in Strong’s Systematic Theology. He says, “Hence the pastor’s duty is to develop the self-government of the church. The missionary should not command but advise. That minister is most successful who gets the whole body to move, and who renders the church independent of himself. The test of his work is not while he is with the church, but after he leaves. Then it can be seen whether he has taught them to follow him, or to follow Christ; whether he has led them to the formation of habits of independent Christian activity, or whether he has made them passively dependent upon himself”.
Among orthodox or Fundamental Baptists a strong tendency has arisen within recent times toward the development of the concept of pastoral dictatorship. This has been fostered by those types of associational fellowships which emphasize Sunday School evangelism to the virtual exclusion of expository preaching. It is often recommended by those para-church organizations which major in the promotional techniques of modern business more than in the worship and faith of the local churches. Strong leadership from the top has been demonstrated as successful in the modern business world. This philosophy has been too often adopted by pastors with a “program”. It has been allowed to flourish where the local churches were inexperienced in anything other than this form of ecclesiastical philosophy.
Young graduates from the schools which specialize in this methodology and replete with plans and programs which they have absorbed from the conferences which promote them so glibly often invade a local church with a “program”. A key ingredient to these schemes is usually the dynamic leadership of the pastor who must assume virtual command of all that transpires for the execution of his “program”. The plan often bears more resemblance to the promotional work of the local automobile sales agency than it does to the example of the church in the Scriptures. Great emphasis is placed upon “success” which is usually interpreted in terms of numbers To make the program “work” the pastor is usually required to become “the man in charge” in a way which hardly resembles the shepherd of the flock, but more like “the boss” in the sense employed in the modern business. Adherents of this philosophy in church life (pastors) will probably become dictators. Followers of the general religio-cultural pattern (church members) will provide the way for such pastors to become dictators. When this combination exists, as it does in large sections of the Baptist constituency in America, the New Testament pattern of local church autonomy will be seriously strained, if not broken altogether.
Sound familiar? It’s all too common. It’s just not Scriptural.
What does the Lord Jesus demand (not expect – demand) of His under shepherds?
Three times the Lord Jesus commanded Peter to feed His lambs and sheep in John 21.
Paul told the Ephesians in chapter 4 that the purpose of the pastor-teacher is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ.
Peter exhorted the elders in 1 Peter 5 that it is their responsibility to feed the flock of God (teach them doctrine), diligently watch over the flock (protect them from false doctrine) and to not attempt to lord it over the flock (humility), but live their lives as examples to the them (servant leadership).
We have a responsibility as members of a local church to pray for our pastors.
We also have the responsibility to oppose dictators and require them to obey the commands of Christ.
If you’ve got one in your church act decisively. Before it’s too late.