Advertisement

Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

When Mighty Church Leaders Fall, Do They Crush the People Underneath?

In our younger years, my husband the Norwegian Artist and I bicycled through small-town America, and for housing, we often asked a local church if we could camp in their basement. Encountering everything from open-armed hospitality to outright hostility, we ultimately found ourselves attending a lot of church services.

The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational oil painting of meadow flowers and mountains by Steve Henderson

There’s really no reason why we can’t all climb to the top of the hill and be surrounded by God’s majesty. The only thing stopping us is our willingness to walk the path that gets us there. The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Advertisement

One that made permanent memories was a revival meeting, in a tent, complete with wood shavings (the woman in front of us jumped up with an “OH!” as if she had been stuck with a pin) in which the speaker discussed the Cedars of Lebanon.

According to the speaker, these huge trees, towering over all other life in the forest, were the pastors God ordained to lead the sheep, and when the trees fell — he didn’t particularly mention why — then dreadful things happened, because everything under the massive trunks was crushed under its weight.

Get to High Ground

Now in my mind, the lesson of the day is that you don’t set up your sheep herd under a bunch of huge trees that are prone to topple, but the speaker didn’t address this. He just emphasized the importance of the mighty trees, and how firm and straight they grow, and how they protected the sheep by encircling them and keeping them confined.

Advertisement

Personally, I did not like being consigned to the bottom of the forest, at risk of being whacked over the head and summarily flattened, and it hurts my neck to tip back so far in order to see the tops of the trees. Radical that I was, I wondered — why aren’t ALL of God’s saints considered trees of Lebanon? Isn’t it important for all of God’s children to be straight, strong, firm, and immovable?

Not so, according to the speaker. Most people are sheep, and they need the trees.

We Worship Human Beings

Sadly, in modern-day establishment Christianity America, this appears to be so, and too many people flock — literally — to a pastor of power and words and magnetism, to teach them. Oddly, however, despite however many years they spend with this man (for he frequently is a man — many denominations finding all sorts of verses to discount the voice of women), the sheep don’t necessarily grow or learn as they properly should, in accordance with Ephesians 4:11-12:

Advertisement

Cadence inspirational original oil painting of woman in pink dress on rocky beach by Steve Henderson

In our walk with Christ, the goals is that we can do it using our own two feet, and not having to ride on the back of another. Cadence, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Advertisement

I thought of this today when someone on Facebook posted a link about Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church who is in the news, according to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article by Joel Connelly, because 21 former pastors of the church have lodged formal charges against him. Reading through this article and related posts,  I couldn’t help but wonder,

Follow the Leader

“How do churches get so big? And what compels people to follow, so intimately, one human being?”

Advertisement

And, in following such a leader, any leader, are the congregants built up, knowledgeable, and mature? Logic tells one that, when we learn, we begin as children, starting with the basics. We soon outgrow those basics, adding to them until, at some point, we reach, or supersede, our teacher, and are ready to move on to teach others ourselves.

Is this what happens in churches — small or mega — or do the Cedars of Lebanon tower so tall that they keep sunlight from hitting the ground below?

Christians: we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

At what point will we start taking seriously our individual responsibility to interact with God, to read His word, to pray — one on one — to Him and seek His guidance, His leadership, and His teaching? Or will we always be content, eating tufts of grass in the shade and shadow of the trees?

Advertisement

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where my consistent message to Christians is to stop following the (human) leader and focus on following Christ. You can do this — you really can — and when you take teaching from another human being, don’t toss your soul, heart, brain, and mind in front of his feet as well.

Learn from others. But don’t worship them.

Posts similar to this one are

Christian Leadership and Ordinary People

Advertisement

Are You Qualified to Study the Bible?

The Misfit Christian (my book for truth seekers who feel nudged out of the group, and are tired of being called “difficult.” Have you ever thought, instead, that perhaps you are perceptive?)

 

  • http://www.identityfulfilled.com/ IdentityFulfilled

    Well said.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    I read and enjoyed your article yesterday, Joe. The issue of names of fame, within a community that is expressly told to not have idols, is always intriguing.

  • http://www.identityfulfilled.com/ IdentityFulfilled

    Carolyn,

    Great insight and true commentary. Looks like we were inspired to write about this at the same time.:) God Bless
    Joe
    http://www.identityfulfilled.com/mars-hill-church/

  • Pingback: Megachurch Rock Star Pastors | This Woman Writes by Carolyn Henderson

Previous Posts

Apathy Is Worse Than Anger
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” Revelation 3:15 The Biblical book of Revelation, despite assurances from those who make movies about it, is a complicated book, and there is ...

posted 7:39:59am May. 01, 2015 | read full post »

How Do You Spend Your Sundays?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) I know a number of people who work on Sundays. One of them, a waitress, described a recent interaction with a diner, a church-goer who was ordering ...

posted 8:30:13am Apr. 29, 2015 | read full post »

If I Were Taller, I'd Look Thinner, and Other Bible Truths
"Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" Matthew 6:27 I ran into this verse the other day, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never seen it before. Oh, I've seen one like it -- my New International Version ...

posted 10:22:15am Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Christian Sheep: We Can Learn from Goats
I'll never forget the first time I milked a goat. My best friend from college, whose degree was in animal husbandry but who more importantly kept goats and milked them herself, was convinced that my family needed two of the animals, because ...

posted 11:21:08am Apr. 22, 2015 | read full post »

It’s a Secret, but Many Christians Do Distrust God
"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 We all approach life from a certain world view. And while the dictators of politically correct doctrine decry bias as a bad thing, it's really just a realistic ...

posted 10:39:06am Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.