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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Will You Publicly Support Your Pastor?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so like the present period, that some of its noblest authorities insisted on its being received , for good or for evil, in the superlative degree in comparison only.” Thus is the beginning of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Wouldn’t you say that we are in the midst of that even now?

Each week we criticize or applaud what is happening. Generally, those in power applaud and those who are denied power criticize. One says it is the best of times, the other says it is the worst. People are acting like little children who believe that their parents are perfectly right about everything or absolutely wrong. The old adage that no one is perfect doesn’t seem to apply. They want a hero without flaw, who is always moral, always powerful, always knowing what to do and always good to the deserving. They want this hero to avenge them of those whom they believe have oppressed them. They throw their support behind the one who has been chosen and either overlook or deny anything is ever wrong. This person may make the journey from hero to goat and never receive forgiveness for his sins.

And this happens as much in the church as anywhere else. The congregation may do that politically or with their pastor. The one they thought to be was the wisest of all is found to have holes in his wisdom. Now, he doesn’t have enough sense to get in from the rain. Everything action taken is either nefarious or abjectly stupid. There is no middle ground. Everything is said in superlatives.

I have talked to many pastors recently who are feeling the pressures of some of members of the churches they serve. They tell me of those who have come to oppose them. Many of these stir up trouble and campaign for these pastors’ removal. These members refuse to forgive when forgiveness is required. They see themselves as those who must avenge the wrongs and take the place of the hero in the story.

How can we believe that God is pleased with this? Who will come to these pastor’s aid against those who would have them removed? Why are the good members silent in these times? I talk with these pastors and give them as much support as I can but I cannot involve myself in the affairs of their churches because I am not a member there. I have no voice.

So, I challenge those of you who read this and are experiencing turmoil in your churches to send this to other members of your congregation. Why? So, you can stand with your pastor and let him know that you are doing so. So, he will be strengthened by you to continue preaching the gospel. So, your church will know that this immoral action of opposition will not be tolerated in your church. So, you may have peace and reach people with the gospel.

Will you do it?

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.  

(Please note that I do understand that pastors who have committed egregious immoral acts need to be removed from their position. But make no mistake: This must be done in the open. The Bible says that an Elder should be rebuked publicly.)


sirnorm1 said...

Good Word. I have always tried to be a "Jonathan" to my Pastors.

Anonymous said...

My long distance friend, Ps. Prentis, I wonder if this phenomenon is more prevalent in where you are, USA, and perhaps, in other western countries, too, including UK. In my part of the world, although there are always "troublesome" members in churches (one was pounding on my senior pastor in the half hour before last weekend early morning service), but generally as far as I am aware, organized or orchestrated opposition or ousting of pastors are rare, here. On the contrary, in my country with many churches, but few large churches, the sad thing I have found happening, is that, for large churches here, the members are so supportive of their pastors, that they are almost worshipping their leaders, and oblivious to the "trouble spots" from their leaders. Such trouble spots included how the leaders lived relative to general members, what they engage themselves in (stumbling), and the projects they get involved in, and the approaches they employed, and even theology and doctrines they spun. Even when the authority has moved in, and evidences are clear that there are improprieties, members still don't see any wrongdoings their leaders have done. From all of these that I have observed, it formed in me this: see a big or mega church, it is either the leaders are doing a lot of right stuff in the eyes of God, and so, He is gathering people to the church, or it is the leaders are doing are a lot of right stuff in eyes of the world, but NOT in the eyes of God, and people are gathering there, for the wrong reasons.

But coming back, the converse scenario at your end, that members organize to remove leaders, I suspect you already rightly pointed out that the people in your country are having greater tendency to be unforgiving. May I add, perhaps, very rights demanding, more likely to resort to legal actions, suing at the drop of the hat, so to speak, very demanding kind of people. Some of these attitudes is highly exhorted in business or economic excellence, in worldview. Such postures, at their extreme, run contrary to those of the Kingdom (of God). These things got built over time, and it would take a long time, even generations, to shift another way, the good way. In fact, despite what I have said above, concerning this end of the world, i am afraid that, of all nearby countries, my country may be first to take after such developments in the western world. I hope by collective efforts of the government, the schools, the churches, and parents, and God, not forgetting, we could hold off, the influx of undesirable values, attitudes and cultures, for as long as we can.

Still for scenario described by Ps Prentis, when it hits a particular church, it still have to be dealt with or confronted; what is the thing to do? All is not lost; never despair. For the pastor or leader, this can be a kind of persecution; remember, scripture said that all who live godly life can expected persecutions. You will suffer, but when you love God, Ps 91:14-16 and Romans 8:28 are yours to claim and hang onto. The two promises will come true for you. Pray for wisdom, and don't forget to unburden to The Lord, and trust Him to see you through, with or without change on your end; change is NOT necessarily all bad. Be prepared to be open, but seek godly wisdom, and godly counsel, before going open. You are NOT perfect; similarly, don't expect everyone will be behind you or support you; some will disappoint you. Be humble before God and before man; and you have to be forgiving, yourself. Ask what is reasonable to ask of members, to support. Stay close to God, and remember, you can be up against more than flesh and blood, and so, engage in spiritual warfare prayers, too.

For the members, know the facts, test all things against the Word. Don't blow things out of proportion, deal with it in its proportion; discern but may not punish, you can want to stop further harm; be merciful and be forgiving, as far as possible.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions