The crisis of “monitoring” | creed of jesus


Whatever discipline you might study, one issue continues to be discussed and analyzed more than any other: the crisis of leadership. Whether you’re reading about business, politics, social justice, or church life, the issue is always leadership — or lack thereof. Companies are not finding CEOs who can navigate the complex business waters of an ever-changing global economy and the competing expectations of social justice activists. Universities cannot find chairs to balance the needs and competing demands of their faculties, boards, and students. Shareholders are looking for someone who can meet Wall Street expectations and make consumers feel good about using their products.

And the local churches are not finding the pastors they need. Denominational leaders are increasingly concerned that there will soon be a shortage of qualified pastors for their churches across the country. There are many reasons for this. For starters, it is now rare to identify generational pastors. You rarely speak to a pastor today whose father was a pastor and his grandfather was a pastor, going back many generations. Few children of preachers want to become pastors themselves. Another reason is that most churches don’t pay well enough. Trying to live a glaring distance from the median church income without being paid a median income puts incalculable pressure on ministers and their families.

But these are topics for someone else’s post. I want to talk about the other crisis in the local churches. This is the “follow-up” crisis. There may not be as many leaders in the local churches as there are people. As I mentioned before, COVID-19 didn’t break anything, but the pandemic exposed a lot of things that were broken. One of the things pastors have discovered about their churches is that everyone thinks they are experts.

We had health experts telling us why we, one, were overreacting to COVID-19, or two, weren’t taking COVID-19 seriously enough. If we as a church did not agree with their point of view, they would leave the church. Surely a pastor cannot be a servant of God and be so wrong about COVID-19.

We had constitutional experts tell us why we couldn’t require masks in church or why we HAD to require masks in church. Again, if we didn’t agree with them, they would leave the church.

Many pastors have found that they don’t have as many members as they thought. They just had a group of individuals who had decided to walk together for a little while. There was no bond with each other and there was no commitment to each other. They were just keeping each other company during this part of their journey. The ancient preachers talked a lot about the “one another” passages in the Bible. You know – “love one another”, “carry one another’s burdens”, “pray for one another”, etc. felt like we were all alone.

Part of the problem is that most people don’t have biblical ecclesiology — church doctrine. Most of us believe that the church is like any other human organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most difficult problems in a church arise when we try to run our churches the same way we run any human institution. The church is not a human institution. The church is shaped by God through his Word and Spirit to fully embody the person and mission of Jesus on earth.

Because it is God’s possession and creation, the church must be run in God’s way. The Spirit calls the leaders of the congregation. Regardless of the form of church governance, the Spirit endows each congregation with elders. These elders have long walked with Jesus and know his ways. These elders may or may not be business or community leaders. God looks at the heart of the leader, not the outward appearance. Most church members don’t pay enough attention to what God is doing in their church to recognize God’s anointed elders. They end up paying attention to the people they love or admire and because of this most churches make the age-old mistake of choosing Saul and not looking hard enough for David.

Second, most church members do not understand their church’s mission in the world. They do not understand what God is doing in His world and how He desires to use our congregations in His greater redemptive mission. As a result, too many church members think of the church as just another public service organization whose purpose is to meet the needs of their families.

No. Sorry. The church is not about you. It’s not about me. It is about Jesus. The church is about Jesus’ mission to redeem a lost world. This means that Jesus is still responsible for his church. We are all followers of Christ. This means that sometimes, as senior pastor of my church, I will follow someone else because at that time God has chosen someone else to lead our church in a particular part of our assignment. Sometimes I’m the boss. Sometimes I’m the follower.

If our church is going to have good leaders, our church must develop good disciples. We must all be able to discern how God works and recognize the person God has chosen to lead. When you know that, you better line up and be a good follower. Be the kind of follower you would want if you were the leader. Remember, it’s not about who’s in charge. This is the assignment.

The Book of Judges ends with a disturbing description of the tribes of Israel saying that each did what was good in his own eyes. It didn’t go so well for the tribes of Israel. It won’t go well for us either – unless we can go from a group of individuals who keep each other company to a body with members, some of whom are leaders, and all of whom are followers.

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