Loose Ends

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231 Responses

  1. Preston says:

    I saw a quote that said, “Sodom & Gomorrah, fleshly, immoral ancient Rome, Nineveh… along with 21st century America… they would love the Super Bowl commercials.”

    …and I thought, yes, and you’re watching the modern equivalent of the gladiatorial games, what’s the point?

  2. “I see nothing in the New Testament that justifies secret, back room, board room deals dealing with finances or any other topic.”

    It has been my hobby horse that the reason for the above is market driven. The pewsters do not what any knowledge or responsibility about how church is done – they just want the finished product.- high performance and lots of gloss.

    The pastors may abuse it some, but almost all the blame should sit with people who allow themselves to be referred to as attendees. I have trouble finding common ground with such folks.

  3. The Beyonce show was the biggest part of Super Bowl Sunday that I watch … my daughter wanted me to watch with her. I thought it was great, and I don’t really know who she is – although I did learn she had been a part of Destiny’s Child – whoever they are.

    So what was the objections????

  4. Steve Wright says:

    A Board meeting, duly announced, attended, called to order, recorded in the minutes, and adjourned, in accordance with the written bylaws of the church (and the laws of the state) concerning such meetings is NOT a ‘secret backroom’ deal.

    Paul, a hardcore Jew, also laid guilt trips on Gentile churches saying they had a debt to support financially his fellow Jews living on another continent. Should we model that too?

    London has had one of the better comments in this regard earlier, when saying that there is a difference in the eras.

    Now, is the entire Body of Christ important to God, capable of hearing from Him, led by His Spirit? Yes! Should the entire church have read (studied) Paul’s letters. Of course, and so should the entire Body of Christ do so towards the Bible as a whole today.

    Including those letters that Paul DID write specifically to pastors where he gave private instruction as to how to oversee the church. There were a couple of those too.

  5. I said last week when this came up about the letter – that I am sure that they were hand delivered to the church pastor, who probably read them, discussed them with the assistant pastor before making the public reading on Sunday morning.

    Perhaps Paul wrote 20 letters to the churches and some got thrown in the trash with the senior pastor saying “This is BS, that Paul isn’t going to tell my church what to do!!” 😉

  6. filbertz says:

    Regarding “Evidently, a lot of Christians were upset about the performance of Beyonce at halftime of the Super Bowl…” I think the issue is really ‘a lot of Christians are upset’ period. They live to gripe about anything and everything and use technology to fart their opinions worldwide. They don’t grasp the gospel, understand our mission, or recognize the methodology of the One they claim to follow. They play the game of “Sorry” for real.

  7. filbertz says:

    …and to be even less gracious, they wouldn’t recognize a beast if it stared back from their mirror. And it does.

    Perhaps the biggest enemy of the Church is a significant portion of its membership.

  8. Ixtlan says:

    “I missed most of it…I was busy playing the board game “Sorry” with Trey. That’s the game where you feign regret when you knock your opponent off the board. Good training for the church…”

    LOL!!! I can think of some who must have played that game frequently as children. They are stil playing the game today.

    The question of openess within the church is always sticky. It is a place where most of us have yet to find balance. BTW, Steve, those “private letters” became public information, didn’t they?

    Once a pastor/leader makes the decision to hide something, it is like a domino effect. Other things must be hidden to protect the intiate covering. It’s akin to liars who continue to lie to cover up the first lie.

    The market driven church does contribute toward a separation between the actors and audience. However,there is also the dynamic that some actually trust, or I should say, expect their leadership to actually be listening to God and be committed to carry out His plans.

  9. Steve Wright says:

    As Michael studies 1 Corinthians, no doubt he will read the theories around the four letters. Some think that somehow all of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are cut/pasted into the combo of first and second but I think that was not the case. So bottom line for me, Paul wrote two letters to this church that we do not know the specific contents to.

    And I believe Paul likely wrote many letters that are not Scripture. Do we
    think that in the entire life of the man that he NEVER wrote a letter to Silas or Barnabas?

    My point is that the Scripture is inspired, not the author, meaning not everything written or dictated by Paul is Scripture (and thus not all has survived). The pastoral epistles ARE Scripture and thus are profitable for the Church throughout history, and were preserved by the providence of God through His Church over the centuries.

    To me, in addition to this discussion about the canon, it also comes back to not looking at the 1st century church as the exact model for today. That is where people start arguing that no church should ever own a meeting building, something I have never heard Michael say. But if we allow for a church to own a meeting building (despite the ‘evidence’ of Acts and the Epistles) then why are we blasting Board meetings and connecting them with the expression ‘secret backroom’ ??

  10. covered says:

    Ixtlan, your comment about “openness within the church is always sticky”, is absolutely true. While we don’t go to the lengths that Steve does (and many, many others do), with announcing upcoming meetings etc., we do regularly announce to the church that our books are open and available for them to view at any time as well as minutes to previous meetings. We are a small church of around 100 or so and we are located in a very small, rural town. We were counseled from day one by 2 CCSP’s and a gentleman who has planted several churches when this work began. There is one thing that we won’t “show” others and that is my salary. I’m not even sure why it’s set up this way but I have made it a policy that if anyone asks me directly, I will tell them what my salary is. Because we live in a town where you are most likely a cop or a teacher, my salary is what the base salary would be for either one of those jobs. Because we originated from a CC split, we refused the Moses model for our leadership structure and would be considered a Board/Elder led church. Every 3 months we have what looks like a town hall meeting and I go over all pending business with the congregation and it is always open for discussion. Never has anyone wanted to look at the books and only twice was I asked what my salary was.

    So, far this type of leadership has worked well. I wonder if some of you think there is a better way to be open?

  11. Steve Wright says:

    Covered, to be clear, by ‘announce’ a Board meeting I meant to formally call one as to the bylaws, giving notice to the directors and officers. In other words, I can’t meet privately with someone on the Board, make a decision, and call it a Board meeting decision. THAT would be a secret backroom deal.

  12. covered says:

    Steve, I wasn’t inferring that there was a “secret back room deal”, I took your comment that an announcement was made either in a bulletin or verbally that a meeting will be held. I understand and agree with not doing business outside of a meeting or in a private meeting.

  13. Our church has monthly board meeting scheduled 1 year in advance, the agenda gets posted 2 weeks before each meeting, members of the congregation can asked to be “penciled” into the agenda if they wish to address the board, and the minutes are later posted.
    Any decisions that are not internal to the board, or already laid out in our constitution and by laws are put on the agenda for the next voters meeting.

  14. covered says:

    Just for the record, I do welcome your comments on how we conduct our business. I just know that there are many ways to interpret how the early church did or didn’t do things. I also wonder if because our circumstances have changed so radically from Paul’s era that there is no clear way that we can follow anymore. So far in this country we have religious freedom which is a game changer in of itself.

  15. Steve Wright says:

    Covered, I know brother. I was going back to the post where we read – “I see nothing in the New Testament that justifies secret, back room, board room deals dealing with finances or any other topic.”

    Combining secret back room with board room is like a married man speaking of adultery with his wife. By definition, the combination is not proper communication.

  16. covered says:

    MLD, can anyone attend the meetings just those who wish to speak?

  17. covered says:

    It just seems to me that there must be topics that are off limits to the congregation. I can think of many things that must be discussed behind closed doors like most disciplinary actions.

  18. Anyone can attend, but they may be asked to leave if we end up discussing personal issues. Only one person has come since I have been on the board, but I’ll bet that a 3rd of the people are former board members – and they don’t want anything more to do with it. 🙂

    We are elected for 2 yrs and can only serve 2 consecutive terms.By then you are toasted.

  19. Ixtlan says:

    What I think we are really talking about is independence that produces autonomy that fosters a lack of accountability.

    A popular move away from denominationalism began back in the late 60’s- early 70’s. They were a reaction to denominationalism’s over emphasis on structure. To some degree, it was the right move in the desire to move and minister with greater freedom. What became a quest for freedom has morphed into a sense of ultra independence. This has spawned a sense of entitlement and exclusion as pastors make different decisions based on what they alone think God is saying to them.

    I’ve seen this over and over again in the latest fad within the church which is church planting. Very little fuels the decision to plant other than “God told me”. Incidently, church planting has a significant failure rate…… So instead of asking the hard questions of whether a new church is really needed, now the emphasis is on more training for the individual church planter, because after all, God is leading him to plant.

    The days of the church counsels, of working through issues together is foreign to many church entreprenuers. Forget seeking counsel from the church, allowing input from other brothers. It has become an enviroment where we place a premium on our exclusive relationship to God, with all the sense of autonomy that goes along with it.. Much of this is why denominations were formed. When talking to pastrs who are members o denominations, it doesn’t take long to see a structure which purpose was to bring accountability to the local church level. Doesn’t always work, but an obvious intent is there.

  20. Steve Wright says:

    Game changer – How about the ubiquitous social security/Tax ID number.

    I have pastored two churches. One a 501C-3, the other an unincorporated church. I have both experiences. The issue with corporation is not about tithe deductibility or liability protection, though often that is what people think.

    The issue is doing business as a church without a tax ID number. Renting a building, having a checking account. Proper incorporation actually helps avoid abuses because otherwise an individual, likely the pastor, will be associated with these things as to ownership and liability. Or they won’t get done (unless someone knows a bank that allows you to open accounts without tax ID numbers)

    Not only were these issues not faced by the 1st century church, they aren’t issues we faced even here in America 100 years ago. But they are part of life today.

  21. covered says:

    Let me ask all of you something that I know may cause a schism but I value your opinions. There is a man who is serving his last year in San Quentin for child molestation and his mom told me that he wants to come to our church. I have never dealt with this on this level and I can’t tell you how much this has consumed me. I haven’t shared it with our Board/Elders yet (because we don’t have a date nor confirmation from the man). I am seeking counsel from experienced Pastors but I am curious as to your position as a pastor, leader or a committed follower of Jesus.

  22. Bob Sweat says:

    “Our church has monthly board meeting scheduled 1 year in advance, the agenda gets posted 2 weeks before each meeting, members of the congregation can asked to be “penciled” into the agenda if they wish to address the board, and the minutes are later posted. Any decisions that are not internal to the board, or already laid out in our constitution and by laws are put on the agenda for the next voters meeting.”

    IMO, that’s the way it should be!

  23. covered,
    That is a tough one, but my advise is that you bring it up sooner than later. You should have a policy in place – or at least a meeting of the minds, because this may not be the only incident of this nature.

  24. papiaslogia says:

    “Beating my current favorite hobby horse again, the fact that Paul’s epistles were addressed to entire churches instead of pastors or boards tells me that Paul expected there to be open channels of communication and information flowing to the whole Body.”

    And my point the other day with bringing up Colosians 4:16 was that Pauls epistles ALSO were expected to be shared between churches, thereby having between open fellowship between fellowships. No one church was meant to be acting indepedent of others – there is at least an implicit command to share the letters – no one is doing church on there own.

    But we don’t like that idea – too much accounatability that way.

  25. covered says:

    MLD, we are discussing a mandatory term limit right now. My problem is that the men serving now are awesome. They are wise and definitely are not yes men. I do personally believe that we need to set a term limit.

    Ixtlan, church planting is not something that I feel gifted at. Because of the fact that we can start a church immediately in this country with minimal obstruction, this is a popular thing to do. Personally, I think we have plenty of churches here and believe we need more attendees and less churches (in this country). When I saw a couple of years ago that Acts 29 was moving within miles of CCCM, it sort of bothered me. Within a 5 mile radius there is Acts 29, CCCM, Mariners, Rock Harbor and dozens more. Within 10 miles was Saddleback and this doesn’t include the several denominations in that vicinity.

    Steve, I don’t know how (at least in CA), how a church can make it financially without being a 501c3. There are ways of enforcing more accountability but the cost to operate without the benefits would be enormous.

  26. Steve Wright says:

    covered, most of what Moms say their children are going to do tends to not come to pass. Does the Mom go to the church already – or is this just a phone call you received? And why did she tell you this anyway? Was she asking you if it would be OK if he attended? Permission in other words. Was she warning you about her son?

  27. covered says:

    MLD, I hear and understand your advice. I don’t have a problem bringing it to the attention of the Board. My main concern is the line of grace. As I said in a previous post, this town is either cops or teachers and neither one will likely accept this man. Because I’m called as a pastor and their pastor, I can already see the train wreck coming. The way I handle this will be contrary to my flesh, my heart and my mind. I am not looking forward to taking a position either way.

  28. Steve Wright says:

    papias – I don’t think the sharing of Scripture among the Body of Christ is the same as forbidding independence for the sake of accountability.

    In point of fact, the Jerusalem church was most certainly independent of the Gentile churches – as the Acts 15 council shows. The ‘rules’ for the Gentiles were different than the Jewish church.

    I don’t think any churches are doing church on their own, but rather all are under the headship of the Lord Jesus, and thus there is plenty of accountability to anyone who fears the Lord.

    Where do we read about the Ethiopian church in Acts? Once the eunuch got saved and brought the gospel to Africa? We don’t because Paul was not involved in that church.

  29. covered says:

    Steve, mom is in her late 50’s and been a believer since the “movement” in Costa Mesa in the 70’s. Her son attended the local church and was on the worship team and served in children’s ministry. The victim also attended the same church but the crime happened elsewhere. She came with us as part of the church split and believes we will welcome her son with open arms. When she called me, her attitude was, “I’m sure he will be welcome here, right?”. Here’s the scary part, her husband has said publicly that their son will not be welcome in their home. So, can you see the dilemma? Mom is an enabler and dad is a legalists. My concern is not with how either parent feels but about how God feels about His church & this man.

  30. Steve Wright says:

    OK covered. I asked in case this woman was a stranger who just called you out of the blue – which does happen too.

    In my opinion, you should meet with him before doing anything or talking to anybody. You still don’t know if he even intends on coming, just because his mother says so. In meeting with him you will have the chance to explain that he will never be allowed to serve in any capacity at the church (in case he has thoughts of being in the worship team again one day) You also will have a chance, with the Spirit’s aid, of guaging his brokenness and repentance

    I would also point out that you also have some burdens from the state, as well as your desire to serve the Lord and please him. Privacy concerns being one. Public doors being another.

  31. covered says:

    Steve, thank you. I will certainly consider meeting with him. What if we told him that he’s welcome at MLD’s church? That will certainly relieve me of a huge burden 🙂

  32. Well, it is a place for sinners – my goodness, we even have ex evangelicals in my church. 😉

  33. covered says:

    That is funny MLD! 🙂

  34. Steve Wright says:

    I think there is a mistaken belief out there that because a church can ask someone to leave the premises that this request can be made anytime with anyone, without risk of liability.

    No church can deny me the right to sit peacefully and quietly during the public worship service. They can have ‘members only’ rights for voting, communion and so forth. But for peaceful attendence, by a stranger, there can’t be a refusal without serious risk if I were to cause a fuss with the authorities.

  35. covered says:

    Steve, I understand your #34 but if this gentleman is sitting peacefully and 99 others want him gone and can’t sit peaceably with him in attendance, that’s a whole different scenario.

  36. covered says:

    In our situation, the cops he calls would more than likely be one of the 99 🙂

  37. Time for a 7 part sermon series on forgiveness. (and I would probably one of the ones who would need to be in attendance.)

  38. Good discussion today!

    “the fact that Paul’s epistles were addressed to entire churches instead of pastors or boards tells me that Paul expected there to be open channels of communication and information flowing to the whole Body.”

    I’ve given my thoughts on this before, but since Michael keeps it up, so will I! 🙂

    Though I do believe that the New Testament ministry model was a shared model, The Priesthood of Believers, I don’t think Michael’s reasoning, the addressing of Paul’s letters to entire churches, is very convincing.
    One, the letters would have almost have had to been filtered through one central figure. Call this a pastor, elder, leader, or whatever, but scholarly consensus is that the vast majority of 1st Century Christians were illiterate. I’ve seen blogs try to argue otherwise but credible scholars disagree. Thus, one of the few who was educated would have had to read the letters to the other believers. This guy would have been your early church pastor, well-known, respected, and trusted. If he was not all of those things, he would not have been trusted to read the letters. The reader of scripture to an illiterate people is a very powerful position which could be easily abused.

    2nd, reading the early fathers shows that hierarchy began to form almost immediately after the apostles died, if not before. This leads me to believe that this practice was at least implied, if not outright practiced, by the churches whom received Paul’s letters. No, the structure is not explicitly laid out by Paul, but it is by many of the early church fathers. I don’t think these ideas just popped up overnight.

    3rd, the idea that we need to model the early church is a practice in revisionist history. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church. John rebuked a few early churches in Revelation. There was never a Golden Era for us to copy. They were the beginning, and God never intended for us to stay there.

  39. covered says:

    Good word Josh. In your last paragraph, didn’t you mean to say that Jesus rebuked a few churches? I believe that is why your opinion is valid as “…and God never intended for us to stay there”

  40. Yes, but I believe the same about Paul’s writings: That it was the Spirit of Jesus speaking through Paul. So I quoted the human conduit in both places just to be consistent 🙂

  41. Nonnie says:

    Here is an honest Christian song: (please listen to the whole song)

  42. covered says:

    I hear you Josh but what I meant was in reference to your comment that “John rebuked a few early churches in Revelation”. I am confirming that you may have meant Jesus Himself did the rebuking if your are speaking of the 7 letters in Rev. two and three.

  43. covered says:

    Great song Nonnie. Very good guitar player as well. The words were convicting… Why does our sin look so ugly on others?

  44. @42 – Yes, Jesus…but through John. Again, just making it clear (not that you disagree), I find Paul’s letters just as authoritative as the words of Jesus as delivered by John. (Or Matthew, Mark, or Luke 🙂 )

  45. covered says:

    I see Josh. I am stuck on the red letters vs. otherwise.

  46. Lutheran says:

    I agree with Josh that there never was a golden age in the early Church. They were fighting heresy especially, from the get go.

    ‘God never intended for us to stay there’.

    Interestingly, I’ve heard Roman Catholics say something similar when they use an argument from analogy. They’ll say the Church is like a seed and later developments were a blossoming of that seed into fruition.

  47. “Interestingly, I’ve heard Roman Catholics say something similar when they use an argument from analogy. They’ll say the Church is like a seed and later developments were a blossoming of that seed into fruition.”

    Which could be followed with “and Luther was a blossoming of that seed”, etc.

  48. “The key to understanding eschatology isn’t Israel…it’s recognizing a “beast” when you see one….”

    Somebody tell me what that means?

  49. Fly on a Wall says:

    Steve: when Michael (please clarify me if I’m wrong) said “backroom meetings” I took it as creative licenses.

    He is alluding to the recent CCCM controversy, where Chuck Smith has not created a separate corp to oversee CCCM when he dies, but instead given the rights to his biological son.

    If this was brought up during a service, even just a passing thought, and the congregation was given the time to speak their mind with their elders? Not as easy to pull off, is it?

    So while there may have been an actual, physical meeting, I wonder how much knowledge the congregation and/or the Elders had previous to the meeting? Even if the decision was passed, it doesn’t excuse the fact that Chuck Smith feels CCCM’s assets are HIS and he can do what he pleases.

    As an ex-CCCM sheep, I can tell you that when I donated money to CCCM, I did it in good faith that it was going towards the works of GOD, not step up the Smith family for the next generation. The only reason I’m more involved now is because I’m unemployed and have lots of time to research these things. When I was working +60 hour weeks, just trying to get by, the last thing I wanted to do was break down a church’s budget report, then speak my mind to an Elder about what I disagree/agree. I was trusting that those in power were doing the right thing.

    If you don’t see this as a Pastor, then it’s a serious flaw on your part.Just because no one spoke up at the meeting, doesn’t mean the decisions made at this meeting were in God’s best interest.

  50. Sarah says:

    Nonnie…we love Andy Gullahorn, he tours with Andrew Peterson and has written some great songs.

    Michael mentioned the other day the little girl who died here in our community, I thought I would post this article to give an update:


  51. Fly on a Wall says:

    But why are we talking about CC again anyways? This topic is always hated on by most that visit this site.

    I stick by orginal opinions on this matter: CCCM is done. Let the Smith family have their lion’s share. Now get rid of it. It is no longer useful to the universal body of believers.

  52. Steve Wright says:

    covered, at the same time I know you do not think that 99/1 idea fits all scenarios. If you had a white church of 99 people and they did not like the black guy that showed up, you would not comply with their demands.

    The same would be true for an open homosexual, right? In the eyes of the law a church is not a private club and the people are not entitled to decide they don’t like someone just because they don’t like them (for whatever reason).

    MLD is right that this can certainly become a teachable moment. The apostles accepted Paul back in their midst, though he helped murder one of their own. But of course, not without Paul’s passing the test of time that showed his repentance.

    I think there is a serious issue in your case because the guy hurt someone known by the former church (and I assume some of your current members). Which is why the private conversation is helpful. In addition to guaging the repentance, making clear his future will never include ministry there, you can also ask why your church and not one of the other churches in the area. What is the guy’s motive. I would think a repentant man would not want in any way to make his prior victims uncomfotable.

    I also mentioned privacy laws because I am not sure why your whole church would know the story of this guy’s background.

  53. covered says:

    Steve, you are absolutely correct. Maybe it was a poor illustration on my part but it doesn’t lessen the situation. There is so much more to this than I could possibly explain in a couple of posts. Keep in mind 2 things. First I will do as the Lord leads and second, we are in a very small town. We can’t go anywhere without someone recognizing my wife or me.

    Also, I appreciate your advice and I also agree with MLD that this is a perfect opportunity to teach on a difficult subject.

  54. Steve Wright says:

    Understood, covered. There is the possibility still of the enemy causing you all this stress and getting your mind focused on something that won’t even happen. On the other hand, God can also be preparing you for something that in fact will happen soon, so as not to be caught by surprise with a big mess one Sunday.

    My suggestion, FWIW, talk to the Mom and say you would like her son to call you when he can, before he comes to church upon his release. Let him call you and she can get message to him.

    I have no doubt you will be led by the Lord, and that you will respond as He leads you…

  55. covered says:

    Good word Steve. Thank you.

  56. Fly on a Wall says:

    How mature, I’m being ignored.

    Falls in line, typical CC actions. Should I even be surprised?

    Yes, let’s talk more about who (exactly, the Jews, the Gentiles, what about the moogles?) that the letters of Paul were addressed to? Please, I really really need to know.

  57. jlo says:

    Covered, you are in a difficult position and I will be praying for you as you grapple with the choices. I imagine this man’s ability to even attend church depends on what type of offence he was convicted of, and what his conditions of probation are going to be. At some point you might want to check out the Department of Justice website.



  58. Sorry, I think the Paul discussion is interesting.

  59. jlo says:

    Have one in moderation for links, trying a different format.

    Covered, you are in a difficult position and I will be praying for you as you grapple with the choices. I imagine this man’s ability to even attend church depends on what type of offence he was convicted of, and what his conditions of probation are going to be. At some point you might want to check out the Department of Justice website.

    churchsafety (dot) com/discussion/askourexperts/richardrhammar/q14.html

    churchlawandtax (dot)com/private/library/viewarticle.php?aid=81

  60. covered says:

    Fly, why do you think that Michael’s post was directly related to CC? The Moses model is used elsewhere and as the guardian of this site, Michael decides what to write and we decide if we want to contribute or not. I don’t think that anyone is ignoring you.

  61. London says:

    This blog isn’t about you.
    You are interrupting a conversation that has been going on all day and demanding people stop to address you because now you’ve arrived on the scene.
    That seems pretty immature.

  62. jlo says:

    London, you’re pretty accurate with that fly swatter.

  63. covered says:

    Thank you jlo. I appreciate you prayers. As I said, because we are “loaded” with cops, I will know more about this guy than I need to know.

    I believe that there is an element of me seeking God diligently and it is nice to come here and find that other’s care and pray even for such a horrible situation like this one.

    Btw, I have been praying for you and your situation as well. I hope that you have peace and are comforted.

  64. jlo says:

    Thanks Covered, I will take all the prayer I can get. I just came off a 21 day corporate fast with my church, didn’t get any big answers, but I did receive peace about my situation.

  65. covered says:

    Josh, so do we have a clear cut model in which a church is to operate or is the church organic and has a life of it’s own (within limits)?

  66. covered says:

    Good jlo

  67. Steve Wright says:

    Covered, one thing about having him take initiative to call you is it is your first chance to guage repentance and learn if your role as overseer is respected by both him and his Mom. If they just show up in a couple Sundays without first calling, you have a point of contention to discuss, as well as a more difficult situation. You can still have your conversation but if a released convict thinks it beneath him to answer a request from the pastor, or if the Mom thinks your request is somehow out of line and does not relay the message – that will tell you volumes.

    Like you said, you are responsible for ALL the people God brings to your fellowship. The others may have to learn forgiveness, but not at the expense of two people who think the church is their own personal thing to do with as they please.

    I too will offer my prayer for the wisdom of God for you, and for a healthy, God-honoring outcome for all.

  68. Fly on a Wall says:

    Please forgive me. I’ve mistaken silence to being disregarded.

    Well, I’m off to start my day, please don’t mistake my silence for apathy.


  69. Michael says:

    The number of CC affiliated posters on this thread is exactly one.
    His voice is welcome with all the others here…I am ecumenical.
    My point is not just directed at the Moses Model…I believe the whole corporate structure of the Western church is an error.
    Thus, we discuss…
    Back to work

  70. Lutheran says:

    ‘Which could be followed with “and Luther was a blossoming of that seed”, etc.’


    Exactly. Fill in the blank. 🙂

    Although, Catholics aren’t going to see Luther as that seed blossoming. I know you know that and I know that’s not what you’re saying.

    On the other hand, there are many Catholic scholars today who acknowledge that Luther’s reforms were necessary ones.(I know of a Luthearn pastor-scholar who wrote a book about the Lord’s Supper and got a personal positive note from Benedict.)

    But you won’t hear that on EWTN and the other hard-shell Catholic outlets. That would disturb their perfect, black-and-white world. 🙂

  71. covered says:

    Steve, God will be glorified and I am grateful for your counsel.

  72. Lutheran says:

    I like Michael’s point about the first folks like Paul, etc. They were a million miles from a church as corporate model.

    I’ve always contended that the church should be the church, not run like it’s a business. A church has businesslike aspects that need attending to. But that’s not why it exists.

    it’s a live organism, not a hierarchy like in the business world.

  73. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    “Evidently, a lot of Christians were upset by the performance of Beyonce at halftime of the Super Bowl. I have noted that they seem to have watched it all the way to the end…for holy research purposes I assume.”

    I guess these Christians forgot about the scripture that says we are not judge those outside the Chruch but inside. I mean really many of these Christians balk at anything that would be considered Sexy but they have no problem watching Violent war and action movies and I also see scripture where God hates violence.

  74. covered says:

    Rev five, nine = “…out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…” Even churches with the Moses model? Yep and even Catholics and a good case for the Lutheran’s 🙂

  75. Steve Wright says:

    I believe the whole corporate structure of the Western church is an error.
    Michael, my point in speaking of Tax ID numbers and such is not to argue that our way today is somehow ideal and perfect in God’s sight.

    Rather to point out, what are the alternatives? An ‘error’ as you use the word implies there is something correct that we could use as a fix for our error.

    A Board of Directors is really not the same as an ‘elder board’ and certainly there is no specific Biblical instruction on Corporate Directors. However, here in America, with our unique heritage and Christian advantages, not to mention our overall way of life, there are some things that are needed, or at least are greatly helpful to effective ministry.

  76. I see a very strong case for a congregational voting style church in Acts. The apostles didn’t want to be bothered with the day to day operation of the church – they did not even want to have a voice in choosing who serves.
    So they told the people, the lay people to pick and choose candidates and vote who should get the positions. – see Acts 6

  77. covered says:

    “I believe the whole corporate structure of the Western church is in error” Based on what? There are errors within the structure but if we agree as Josh and Lutheran have said, It’s a live organism and therefore there is no perfect model outlined for us. We trust that God is calling the shots and that makes it an issue of faith.

  78. Steve Wright says:

    MLD – Any thoughts on Titus 1:5 then? Paul personally tells Titus to appoint the elders in the different churches in the different cities. The usage of the you and the verb’s number is singular.

  79. Hi Fly,
    Mind if I lend a hand?
    One little thing I learned here, if you post addressing no one, you might be ignored because conversations are often hard to track and they fly by at the speed of thought.
    If you post addressing someone directly, as I am with you, we interact, sometimes folks chime in. Also, I’ve found it helpful to ask for an entre into a conversation with a harmless, “Hi, Fly, mind if I lend a hand…” or something innocuous

    I always go back the the idea that Michael is hosting a really big party, lots of crosstalk & Kahlua 😉

  80. Paul was a renegade and not one of the Twelve in Acts 6 😉

  81. covered says:

    I read that Calvin believed that Titus laid out the qualifications and then each congregation chose elders (bishops), according to the qualifications outlined by the Holy Spirit through Paul. Whether Calvin is correct or not, there’s no getting around the fact that man’s hand has always had a place in determining how a church is to function. Again, this boils down to faith and man’s ability to pray and listen to God. The fact that man is involved at all makes it an imperfect process.

  82. Lutheran says:

    I think the corporate structure is an error, too.

    But that needs to be nuanced.

    Just because you file necessary 501(c)3 papers as a church nonprofit doesn’t in and of itself mean you’re operating with a corporate model. As I said in #72, there are businesslike aspects to most churches, at least those that aren’t home churches. Churches exist in a specific time and place. So they’re subject to the laws of the land, just like any other organization.

    But I like the congregational style a lot. I’ve seen it work really well at my Lutheran church, where I was an elder for 6 years. It eliminates surprises and hostile takeovers. 🙂

  83. Steve Wright says:

    Well, Calvin may have been right. Of course, Paul didn’t write anything of the sort like he said there. The TEXT says for Titus to ordain the elders, and Paul gives Titus the qualifications to use in so choosing.

    In other words, Paul could have written an epistle to ‘the church at Crete’, outlined his qualifications and instructed them to choose their own guys. But he didn’t. He left Titus there, in Crete, and gave him a task to fulfill.

    I like to let the text stand as written in such matters. HOWEVER, in no way am I arguing for this as some sort of prooftext against congregational voting. Man is always involved as you said, covered.

    In the Acts passage, it should be noted that qualifications were also required of those who would be chosen – and also noted the church was apparently small enough that people knew each other well enough to do so.

    Covered, at your place, based on what you said earlier, everyone likely knows everyone pretty well. At our place, we have people at the first service who likely do not even know the folks coming to 3rd or 4th service. So even if we did have a congregational vote, we would have to have a couple of us leaders make the nominations as we alone would know the different people. So then you are back with the whole idea of ‘OK, the pastors think these guys are solid, mature, qualified for the job – any objections?’ –

  84. Steve Wright says:

    This kind of reminds me of the discussion about church membership. We don’t have membership, but I am not AGAINST membership and in fact I see many advantages to it. At the same time, things seem to run well without it at our place, and thus I do not see it as a glaring lack that needs to be corrected either.

    If my life had gone a different way, and I was pastoring a church with membership, I would not go about disbanding it either.

    Same with church government.

    Now, there are certain doctrinal beliefs I do hold that would limit the churches I might pastor. But not in these areas of governance.

  85. I don’t have a problem with the pastor picking the elders and others as long as the people get to pick the pastor. Then you have representation, that God has spoken to the people to choose a leader who then carries out the work of the church.

    Otherwise you have a handful who pick a pastor, who in turn picks the handful.

  86. Lutheran says:

    If a church does have elders,it’s a good idea to rotate them and limit the number of terms they serve, IMHO. In my small world, that’s how our church does it and some friends who attend a Baptist church do it that way, too.

  87. covered says:

    Covered, at your place, based on what you said earlier, everyone likely knows everyone pretty well. At our place, we have people at the first service who likely do not even know the folks coming to 3rd or 4th service. So even if we did have a congregational vote, we would have to have a couple of us leaders make the nominations as we alone would know the different people. So then you are back with the whole idea of ‘OK, the pastors think these guys are solid, mature, qualified for the job – any objections?’ – No objections at all. I will provide the names of men who I feel are called to lead and let the Board/Elders choose among them. I haven’t used a “nomination” type system because the popular guy will get the vote number one and second, I may know something about a person that disqualifies him in accordance to 1 Tim and Titus. We are on our second set of leaders and all were decided by leaders after my suggestion. I think that this system has flaws but again, I no of no other system that would be better in our situation.

    You are assuming that Titus did not use a congregation to choose men (like in Acts), yet how could Titus possibly know that a person was qualified without insight from others? If your answer is the Holy Spirit told him than your position makes sense. I believe that God can say “Seperate to Me…”

  88. Steve Wright says:

    Covered, excellent point. Not sure how long Titus may have been there, but it does make sense he would seek input and reference from others who were there.

    You also hit on a very important point which I often recognize. The pastor knows things about people that are private and not to be shared. It can be very tricky even in casual conversation to steer someone away from picking brother X for some responsibility – but I imagine it could be devastating to have some sort of open nomination process. I guess there are ways around it too, for example an understanding at the time of the counsel of serious issues that the brother would not accept any nomination offered at a later date, if he wanted the pastor to not make objection public.

    There are layers of challenge to be dealt with in it all…

  89. It also works the other way around. There are times that the members of the congregation know about certain individuals that the pastor is blinded to.

    I will make a generalized statement here – I find it odd that in the churches that teach the most Bible, and usually the verse by verse type, that after years of teaching, they trust their folks the least to hear the Holy Spirit in church decision making.

  90. David says:

    When I was in a CRC, I served a term as elder. We served three years terms. Toward the end of the term, one would either be renominated by the council or thanked for their service. If you were renominated (and accepted it), you still had to be voted on by the congregation. My first council meeting was our pastors last (great timing for me…), and so in my first few months we had to put together a pastor search team who did all the leg work of finding a new pastor. Then the council reviewed the recommendations and selected a candidate to bring to the congregation for a vote.

    With regards to picking elders (and deacons for that matter), those meetings were always lively, and some would be nominated because of popularity or good business sense, and then shot down because of lack of spiritual maturity. We had a small church, and, unfortunately, the list of eligible candidates was depressingly short.

  91. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, the thing about your assumption is that you forget there is no formal membership. So there may be some who have been taught for years and years, and there may be some unsaved folks right off the street. This is where I was saying I can see advantages of formal membership. So unless you develop a caste system, without membership, there are some issues there.

    I will say this (though I know you were not specifically hitting me), those who have been around for years, who are placed in leadership positions, I have tremendous confidence that the Lord will guide and direct them in ‘church decision making’

    Would you rather be voted into position and then have to get permission for everything you do, or would you rather be selected and then given relatively free reign to oversee that ministry as led by the Lord?

  92. It would be interesting to compare Elder job descriptions.

    In my church, the elders are really more like deacons – it is almost totally to support the pastor spiritually and to provide helps and charity to those in the church and surrounding areas. The elders, well about 50% of them, teach among their duties – but in all it’s all pulpit and sacrament responsibilities.

    Our elders have no “business side of the church” responsibilities as that is left up to the leadership board.

    I am the only person in our church that serves on both the leadership board and the elders. So, my leadership board responsibilities are administrative and my elder responsibilities are care.

  93. brian says:

    Steve I read your #34,is there protection for peaceful worshipers either visitors or members from being thrown out of the church or arrested. I have not had that experience myself, I am extremely fearful of ticking off someone up the food chain do to personal experience and not wanting to get arrested or sued if I show up at the wrong church.

  94. Well, in my 30 plus years going to church, I have never seen anyone hauled off by the cops for sitting in a worship service.

  95. Steve Wright says:

    brian, a church can’t violate fundamental public policy. I used to have a copy of the IRS notice that specifically said “public worship services” – the point being you can’t have your doors open to the public and then refuse to allow some to enter in violation of public policy.

    jlo made a good point about the details of probation for a released prisoner. But if a person otherwise has the legal right to walk free, you can’t deny entrance SOLELY on the person’s background as an ex-con. If the guy just wants to worship and/or check things out peacefully and quietly.

    And in all this, when I say ‘can’t’ I am talking about something that of course could happen and it would be up to the offended party to take issue to the authorities and up to the authorities to care enough to investigate and then punish.

  96. David says:


    At my old CRC, the deacons were the ones that ran the money side, including both the “business side” and the monetary care aspects with the benevolence fund. The elders were on the “spiritual” side; discipleship, teaching, etc… Elders and deacons got together separately to discuss their things and then get together as a council and made church-wide decisions (or recommendations to the congregation).

  97. Steve Wright says:

    This is a little like the discussion some have in arguing income taxes are ‘optional’ and then say they haven’t paid in 15 years. They then explain what theory they use to justify this (all of which have been shot down in Tax Court).

    If they truly have gotten away with it for 15 years, it is simply because the IRS does not know (or care – remember one has to make a certain level of income to even owe).

    Not because you have the right to not pay taxes. So some church may kick people out all the time without consistent doctrinal, discipline grounds….but does not mean they are right in the eyes of the law or that they will always get away with that behavior.

  98. Reuben says:

    I have not had the chance to read all of the comments, so I am sorry if this point has been made. I just looked for the names which I knew would protest the elephant concept presented here by Michael yet again.

    Moses model is not even remotely scriptural.

    Anyone ever wonder why the idea of “church discipline” is presented in the scriptures as being a progression that ends with telling it to the entire church? Maybe because Christ, who is the head of the Church, figured that people were in a need to know situation when it came to matters concerning the Church. Since that will go over like a led zeppelin, imagine for a minute this…

    Sunday, after service, the congregation will have a meeting. In that meeting, revisions to the church bylaws will be openly discussed. A motion to have the bylaws enacted will be made. The revised bylaws will take effect. We will vote, as a congregation, on which Anglican affiliation we will support. That alliance will be enacted by the priest. After that, the Vestry will be elected into office. The congregation will vote on two lay-leaders for the church. I will be elected as lay-leader for a one or two year term. In all of these cases and votes, the priest counts as one vote.

    This is astonishing to me. Astounding. Why? Because the congregation, in this whole process, has shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are grown up enough to accomplish these things.

    I will inflame the conversation here, and ask just why the hell this is not commonplace?

    MLD said something way up there that is flat out truth truth. Because people attend church to sit on their ass, and be presented a product. But I also believe that the pastor of a church, supposedly educated in scripture and church history, not allowing for the congregational voice in the church, electing his own leadership, writing his own laws, conducting the church business behind closed doors, and not teaching why this congregational component is Biblical, and necessary, is begging to wear the title “dictator” and unworthy of being labeled pastor.

    I yell that at the top of my lungs.

  99. Lutheran says:

    will inflame the conversation here, and ask just why the hell this is not commonplace?

    I think that all depends on what you’ve experienced.

    The CC and neo-Reformed models are pretty new in the church. I think the congregational model is the most common.

    Reuben, what you’ve described at your Anglican church could 100% describe my experience at my Lutheran church and many others. I think it’s the newer model that’s in the minority. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean the “old” model has disappeared. Someone that’s hidden in a room is in the room just as much as the person in the room who’s visible.

  100. Reuben says:

    Lutheran, my experience is limited to Vineyard, CC, Pentecostal fire and brimstone.

    So what you say may be the case. New to me.

  101. Michael says:

    Very good discussion today, thank you.
    My goal when I read and study the Scripture is to come to it with fresh eyes…realizing that I am soaked in many traditions that may or may not be biblically correct.
    I have become more and more convinced that we have created an artificial division between clergy and laity…that the only gifts we give importance to are the ones associated with public teaching and thus the giftings of the rest of the assembly lie dormant.

    And everybody wants to be a teacher…

    The epistles are fascinating because they convey to the entire assembly “privileged information”.
    There is talk of doctrine, good and bad.
    There are financial issues discussed.
    There is a case of church discipline and then of restoration.

    The entire assembly is trusted with this information and seem to be held responsible for it.

    I’ll be blunt.
    The American corporate template we have placed over the church is an abomination in my eyes.
    The notion that a pastor and his board can keep most of the business of the church private because of an alleged level of spirituality is a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.

    Granted, I’m very early in my thought processes, but sometimes you have to deconstruct something old before you can construct something new.

  102. I don’t know that the system of church governance is what is at fault. More directly I think certain type people are drawn to a particular type.

    The guys who have a personality that has to be in control, has to be the big dog (in everything they do) will gravitate towards a system that feeds that need. I can’t imagine many of these guys being in a system that gives them only one vote in the whole congregation.

    I have pointed out several times, as Reuben did above – in a congregational meeting, the pastor has only one vote. My pastor sits on the leadership board and has no vote.

    I can’t imagine any of the “big guys” putting up with that – so they go where the congregation vomits power on them.

  103. Reuben says:

    “The notion that a pastor and his board can keep most of the business of the church private because of an alleged level of spirituality is a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.”


  104. covered says:

    Good word Michael and thanks for the opportunity to share. At the risk of upsetting anyone, I will take my dictating style and teach God’s word to unsuspecting sheep tonight. Because they apparently don’t have a voice, I will undoubtedly abuse them with my own by-laws. Forgive my bad attitude but I get tired of the yelling and ranting because we don’t agree. There used to be room for different opinions. The old my way or the highway approach is ugly and I don’t need it. This is why I rarely post but I realized it’s better for me to lurk so that’s where I will be.

  105. Michael says:


    I thought you made an excellent contribution today…as usual.
    We need more, not less, of you.

  106. Michael says:

    MLD and Reuben hit on my other reason for bringing this topic up.
    The congregation has a responsibility to be involved in these matters and want to share their gifts with the Body.
    The lack of desire to participate is a bigger issue than the governance…

  107. covered,
    I thought that the conversation today was quite mellow and informative. But so you know my position, and I have stated it many times – I don’t buy into all the talk about “spiritual” abuse. I think most of the complaints come from crybabies who don’t get their way.

    Heck, in my church, I am on the leadership board, the Elder board and I teach the main adult Sunday School class – and I don’t get my way most of the time.

    Before people jump me, I did not say their is no “spiritual” abuse – perhaps 10% of what shows up on the blogs.

    covered, blessings on your teaching tonight.

  108. “The lack of desire to participate is a bigger issue than the governance…”

    And that is the other half of my beef with the complainers of “spiritual” abuse – they put themselves in that position because of their need to sit under a strong personality.

    Where do you think the Bhagwan Rajneesh got his followers? (which I find funny that he was in the same area as Shiloah and the Applegate people… but that’s another story. 🙂

  109. erunner says:

    I saw part of Beyonce’s performance. As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I don’t think she’s very good at all and her music won’t stand the test of time.

    Destiny’s Child!! :mrgreen: How about the Supremes, the Shirelles, the Ronettes, Carol King, Carly Simon, or a number of other acts from the golden era of music!!

  110. Reuben says:

    Did not watch the super bowl. Watched Battlestar Galactica on netflix instead.

    Peyton Manning was not in the game, so whatever…

  111. erunner says:

    Reuben…. Just went through the series for a second time not too long ago. Still my favorite.

  112. Reuben says:

    E, I love you.

  113. Fly on a Wall says:

    G: “I always go back the the idea that Michael is hosting a really big party, lots of crosstalk & Kahlua”

    Mmmm… Kahlua. I don’t know why but Kahlua’s give me a raging hangove?

    Oh…. oops, you meant the marinade, right? Gotcha. Hahaha. G., you make everything a pleasure.

    BTW: how is your extended family? I read your post earlier, I hope all is well.

    As for this post, I tried reading through all the comments but it just gave me a headache. But it reminded me how yummy White Russians are, so I’m heading out again in a few minutes. Life is too short.

    God bless.

  114. Fly on a Wall says:

    MLD: I agree with almost everything you say. But that would mean I have to agree with you. That would mean more discussion. That would mean I’m pro-Lutheran and anti-Alex. That would mean another few pages of theology.

    I’ll just leave tonight with my favorite quote of the day:
    “I can’t imagine any of the “big guys” putting up with that – so they go where the congregation vomits power on them.” Congregation vomits power over them. Yep, sums up the whole CC argument in a nutshell for me. I’m sorry I even got enticed into replying about it, but I saw Steve Wright replying, and I expected some godly insight into the matter.

    My daily answer in prayer is: if the people want to read about it, it’s all over the internet. Your work here is done.

    Amen and amen.

  115. Fly,
    Re my extended family member, she’s being managed, hopefully she will receive the right combination of meds, therapy and long term guidance that will give her skills which will help her live a full and productive life.


  116. Fly,
    It’s not a CC issue. Look, I was a Baptist for 15 yrs and remember WA Criswell – now there was a mean, controlling cuss of a guy. Even in a congregational church he ruled with an iron hand for 50 yrs.

    Steve Wright’s not your enemy – I have yet to see him in a Hawaiian shirt -lay off.

  117. erunner says:

    Reuben, I’ll love you too if you change your gravatar! 🙂

  118. Reuben’s gravatar will look just fine at the bottom of the NL West. 🙂

  119. This is a courageous pair of women who could definitely use our love…

    Megan Phelps-Roper & her sister leave Westboro Baptist. From her own blog…


  120. Lutheran says:

    Thanks, Gren, for posting that.

    They really do need our prayers. That took guts. It’s gotta be rough.

  121. Lutheran says:

    “The notion that a pastor and his board can keep most of the business of the church private because of an alleged level of spirituality is a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.”


  122. brian says:

    I am glad they have gotten out of the situation. This story will develop more and I am sure there will be much more.

    From https://medium.com/reporters-notebook/d63ecca43e35

    “When I push her to articulate what she wants for herself, she reminisces about an interview, in her Westboro days, in which a journalist asked her what she wanted her legacy to be. “I had only a few seconds to think while my mom answered the same question,” Megan says. “And then I said: ‘That I treated people right.’ That’s still true.”

    Thank God for second chances.”

    I think this is a very firm foundation to start on especially the second phrase thank God for second chances” May I add, third fourth fifth …….

  123. Steve Wright says:

    The newest member to our church’s Board of Directors is me – about five years ago. The other Board members have all sat longer than I. I doubt any of them would claim a greater level of spirituality than others at the church but they all are very mature believers who love the Lord, love our church and have served the church in various ways for many, many years. They also bring a tremendous amount of business skill and a wide variety of experience. I can’t imagine a better Board given the purpose for our Board.

    We’ve never had a less than unaninmous vote. One time I was on one side and the rest of the Board was on the other, so I changed my vote to theirs.

    So I’ve never made a Board appointment. Hopefully, I won’t ever have to.

  124. Steve Wright says:

    So Michael. This is where the discussion needs to go now. What exactly are you proposing?

    Do you want to eliminate a Board of Directors and thus the corporate structure entirely. (See my earlier posts on that)

    Do you want Board meetings to be open to anyone who wants to sit in?

    Do you want Board minutes of meetings a) available for review b) published and handed out or c) some other option

    Do you want mandatory Board service – so that any Christian at some point will serve and vote on the Board of Directors of the church, as long as they stick around the church long enough to get their turn?

    Or is there something else eating you on this??

    Your next post awaits.. 🙂

  125. brian says:

    A confession I watched a few episodes of Pawn stars now the name made me think it was going to be like other reality shows. But after three shows not one heavy set person was dragged out of the store by an even heavier set security person with the bleep bleep. Very interesting items with good deals and a hand shake after every transaction if they buy it or not. I cant even watch the other “reality” shows other then storage wars. But this was a bit of a surprise.

  126. When an individual donates to something representing itself as a work of God, there is an assumption of a sacred trust, that the money, goods or time are going to enrich the furtherance of that particular work, to be invested and spent wisely and with humility.

    To ask about the expenditures and investments is a risk few are willing to take, and when asked I would hope that leadership respond with the transparency that comes with living their sacred trust in just such a way.

    We who donate, who support by tithe and time hold all responsibility to respectfully ask for the sacred trust to also be entrusted back to us, that we can continue to be inspired to give, support and believe in the mission and work.

    Just a few thoughts, as brian would say, “from the cheap seats”. 😉

  127. London says:

    What???! You don’t watch “Duck Dynasty”??! Best reality show on currently.
    Laugh my head off every time.

  128. brian says:

    I watched one episode where they were building duck blinds and yes it was rather humorous . I was thinking on the towing, repossession shows and the bad girl / wife shows. I will admit I do not like shows that “show” the very worst about people. I think the Duck Dynasty actually is a rather fun loving family of “kooks” ( we are all kooks in some way) so we can laugh with some humor. But the Sexual innuendos, the cussing and awful personal interaction. I think people get my point.

  129. London says:

    Yeah, I get your point. I’m not a fan of those either.
    I like Storage Wars too. Also, barter kings is kinda fun.
    Most of those shows aren’t real life reality though. I’m sure a lot of it is set up to be more entertaining.

  130. Steve,
    No board turnover in over 5 years?? Do these positions come with lifetime contract? Are any of the board members also paid staff?

  131. brian says:

    Basically its like professional wrestling, people like to watch a train wreck, personally I like to see a train wreck avoided. I wont go into why that makes me an apostate but on many levels it has.

  132. I only surveyed the thread with the barest glance not with detail reading. BUT, Michael slipped one in on you. His little cry to recognize a beast was followed by a beastly critique of the church. The discussion on this thread was precisely on point with that observation.The religious beast is not warning us of an end time deceptive person rather it is the personification of religion gone corporate. Just a thought.

  133. Michael says:

    BD has spoken well…

  134. Michael says:

    What I want is nothing short of a new Reformation, this time from the bottom up, not the top down.
    In every scandal I’ve chronicled the congregation had the power to clean up the church involved and for whatever reason didn’t do it.
    It is my opinion that they share the responsibility for the state these churches and their leaders are in.
    In many of these larger churches millions of dollars are controlled, invested, and spent by men establishing their own kingdoms without the knowledge or input of the congregation.
    Evangelicalism has ceased being the Body of Christ and has become a collection of heads…all seeking their own will and not necessarily the will of God while the congregation is content with the program if it’s entertaining enough.
    Every person who names the name of Christ has been gifted to serve the Body of Christ in some way…and each of us is responsible for health of the local Body.
    My hope is that a Reformation is aimed at educating and empowering the whole church, that we move away from a single gifted leader giving a Sunday lecture to a group of people (under the leadership of a team of elders) each exercising their gifts to further the kingdom of God.
    Then, and only then, will Christ be exalted, not a few men with good personalities.
    Whatever deconstruction that needs to take place to facilitate that is good with me.

    As I said before, I’m in the early stages of my thinking…I don’t have a plan.
    That will come through more gifted people than myself…I just want to facilitate the first discussions.

    And yes, as BD alluded to, I think America has become a beast nation raising up a clergy to match it.
    I don’t expect you to agree…

  135. anonymouse says:


  136. Ixtlan says:

    Interesting observation….. of course, it is a hard sell to hyper-literalist pre-tribulationalists who cannot see over the sides of box that some of the early proponents of that view have constructed for them to live in. That is not to say they are wrong; they just haven’t looked at the full picture. But then again, what group has? Hence, part of the reason for the state of the church today.

  137. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, our church is larger than the average church in America, probably by a significant amount. We don’t come anywhere close to dealing with ‘millions of dollars’ – nor would I guess do the vast majority of churches that nonetheless have corporate boards.

    You have cursed the darkness well. I was hoping to see a little more of the lighting of the candle. Otherwise, we can all agree the church is an imperfect, flawed organism that is loved by Christ, warts and all, and we long for our Husband to return for us.

    I have a friend whose homechurch is Saddleback. Known him and the family for years. They have given their lives in service with Campus Crusade and have served the Lord well. I don’t think he just sits and listens to a lecture.

    And of course, speaking for myself, I don’t think I simply give a lecture. I find it interesting that your initial comment was how the Bible was addressed to all the church, and yet when all the church is together, studying that Bible, seeking to hear God’s voice, that this equates to simply “a lecture” and not an act of worship.

  138. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    “I’ll be blunt.
    The American corporate template we have placed over the church is an abomination in my eyes.
    The notion that a pastor and his board can keep most of the business of the church private because of an alleged level of spirituality is a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.”


  139. Michael says:

    There is much in your statement I would love to contend with, but work and parenting will preclude that for a while.

  140. Chile says:

    Like 127, 133 & 135.

    Michael, I’ve always been taught and observed (to some degree) that everything rises and falls on leadership:

    1. They decide the structure that removes all power or influence from the people.
    2. They implement and nurture the culture that punishes or shuns those who dare to not conform, question, or warn.
    3. To come against them, the people have to communicate with one another. This is falsely, but effectively, called gossip or slander by most in an authoritarian church structure.
    4. The people have to ban together to resist the retaliation of the leadership when calling them to account. This is also falsely, but effectively, called being divisive.
    5. One is told to vote with their feet or be publicly humiliated by the leader’s preferred form of retribution. After uprooting one’s family even once, the moving becomes more distasteful than turning a blind eye the next time. This is a most effective tool to create Christian Lemmings.

    I tried unsuccessfully to deal with two serious issues from the bottom up to no avail. (I was forced out of a church for trying to deal with one of them, though eventually the pastor was found out and is off starting a new work in a new part of the country. My family and friends still paid a hefty price, while he and his family live well off the money he took from the church and has the power to create that monster money maker again, with NO ACCOUNTABILITY.)

    I saw this blog and some others, as an incredibly helpful tool in educating and helping people understand the real issues so they can do something from the bottom up. In my case, it’s merely to warn those who are willing to listen. A fair amount of people contact me privately when they recognize my posts on these blogs. I simply give them a list of questions to ask their current leadership. I think there’s about a 95% success rate at this point, once they hear the answers then they recognize the danger as real.

    I HOPE we can educate, empower and encourage Evangelicals to renew common sense that recognizes power must not be tightly and wholly by the “leaders.” But then the people have to become more educated themselves in many cases. Authoritarian churches are notorious for having poorly educated (Biblically speaking) people attending. It’s not that the Bible is not taught, at times fairly well, but that the way it’s lived out shows true community seems to be lacking. There is an appearance of community, much talk of it being a loving close community, but real life doesn’t bare that out.

    My convoluted point is that organizing within a Body of Believers to change the unhealthy structure of a church from the bottom up seems a dangerous and costly endeavor with the power deck stacked against the “attender”; never-the-less, WE MUST.

    Even an authoritarian church that is still in a somewhat healthy phase, must have it’s structure set up to transition so that it can grow and become truly healthy, a framework to deal with the inevitable issues that life brings. Problems will arise in every church, but a structure with concentrated power give the Believers a chance to deal with the issues appropriately.

  141. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, I know you can’t interact now. Thus, my suggestion above (included with smiley) for a new post. I think a broad complaint about ‘corporate structure’ does not lead anywhere except to supporting that only the small house church is where it is at. Some hold to that view, and though that is what your church is, I have not heard you make that claim. Maybe you are going down that path?

    I think a good comparison is the ‘problems’ many see with public schools. So that by definition, in such eyes, all public schools are bad and to be avoided. Just by their nature.

    Do some schools do a lousy job of teaching the kids?
    Are some schools not safe for the kids?
    Are some schools undermining faith and promoting sin?
    Do some teachers care only about their own salary and benefits and not the kids?

    The answer is ‘yes’ in some cases in some schools. However, there are also excellent public schools, though they are still PUBLIC schools.There are also excellent teachers in otherwise below average schools too. Broad brushing and stereotypes do no good.

    On the one hand only someone with an agenda, or otherwise uninformed would argue that all public schools are great, and in fact superior to alternative education models.

    But equally as wrong is the one (often found in some Christian circles) that blast public schools just by their structure.

  142. Every form of church govt can be, and HAS been abused. The bible didn’t proscribe or prohibit much of what New Testament worship is supposed to be. I think I’ve got it figured out, but great men of God who are much wiser than me completely disagree. Church polity should be an issue where we can have unity despite our disagreements.

  143. covered says:

    Josh, I agee 100% with your #143. I was offended yesterday because someone who disagrees with our particular structure assumes that we are keeping people in the dark, that we elect our own leadership and that we write our own by-laws all of which is not true. Because this person thinks he has the perfect combo, the rest of us are abusive and ignorant. It is this type of behavior that causes division in a well functioning family here at PP. MLD’s comment about ignoring crybabies was good counsel.

  144. filbertz says:

    Dread said better in 133 what I attempted to say in 6&7.

    …carry on.

  145. from this corner says:

    i think using the modern corporation as a model for church organization is a mistake – corporation and organization are not synonymous terms (that’s obvious, i guess) – the problem with using a corporate structure is that by its very design and intent, it insulates and isolates the leadership as “special,” and only answerable to Success, which is another word that is misused within the Church today, perhaps

    every Body of Believers where there are pooled resources should be subject to accepted accounting principles and disclosures – transparency in the sense of accountability for every penny that goes into or comes out of the pot

    but today’s definition of “good business” should be anathema to us

    better to clown around and flounder than to intentionally manipulate and mislead – for the good of the “business”

  146. Steve Wright says:

    I think something that is greatly underestimated is the value of one’s presence by the one who gives it.

    I have made clear before I think it is wrong when someone who has been part of the church for many years, brings a concern and is dismissed with a ‘hey, there’s the door if you don’t like it”

    But the fact that a person trusts their own spiritual welfare to a particular church, and often that of their family too, is not simply one small detail in a much larger picture but is practically the entire picture itself. Especially in some areas of the country where there are literally 100 churches in a short driving distance of dozens of denominations (and yes, church government structures).

    To stay with the topic of money, since that is what Michael emphasized above…

    So the church and pastor never make guilt trips for larger offerings. Never pressure. Never twist the teachings and in fact, when a teaching is about money, he goes out of his way to encourage those not to feel guilty and to teach that the 10% tithe is not a New Testament instruction. That you aren’t ‘robbing God’ because Malachi says so. The church shows itself consistenly to not be interested in what is yours but in you, the person.

    At the same time, the church knows missions are supported and poor in the church are helped. They are encouraged to bring their questions. They know the staff is minimal and by no means rich.

    They trust their souls and the souls of their children, but because some mega church in another state has a scandal over millions of dollars then they too need to get riled up and put on the CPA hat and go line by line over the expenses because despite all of the above we are guilty until proven innocent?

  147. While you shouldn’t be punished because of the mega-church down the street, we should all certainly learn lessons from the failures of others.

    If you see another church fall because of something that you haven’t guarded against, that should throw up a red flag to start moving in that direction.

  148. Steve Wright says:

    Agreed, Josh. I guess I could sum it all up this way.

    For someone to claim to care more about the choice of fellowship for someone, than the person him/herself does to me seems quite presumptious and downright arrogant. The whole ‘we know what’s best for you more than you know yourself’

    But to then label as apathetic those who are happy and healthy in their church choice is insulting.

    No doubt there is a consumer aspect to worship in America. Pick the doctrine you agree with. Pick the liturgical style (or lack thereof). Pick the worship music style. Even pick the sort of clothes you want to wear to church. And yes, pick the amount of involvement/membership you desire because at the end of the day, I remain convinced (and preach consistently) that our faith matters the most the other 6 days and 23 hours of the week outside of Sunday morning.

  149. Totally agreed Steve. And if I didn’t love my church, I’d move my family out west and come to yours 🙂

  150. covered says:

    Steve, thanks for your #149. I couldn’t have said it better.

  151. Steve Wright says:

    Thank you, brothers. Very kind

  152. covered says:

    Oh, I’m not so sure you want Josh at your church. 🙂

  153. I gave him an out by proclaiming the love for my church. He can pretend he wants me 🙂

  154. Nonnie says:

    I was invited to an “inter-faith” prayer walk. I asked the woman who invited me which god we would be praying to. She looked at me like I was from outer space and honestly didn’t have a clue as to why I would ask it. I explained that as a Christian I would be praying to the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and I had a problem if the group would be praying to Allah, or any other god. She laughed it off and said something to the effect “Oh no! We just want to get together so people from different cultures in the city can get to know each other.” I replied, then why call it an “inter-faith prayer walk.” Why not just call it a “Multi-cultural, get to know you walk.” About that time, she had enough of me and just walked away. I didn’t participate in the walk.

  155. Fly on a Wall says:

    Response to Covered #144: “Because this person thinks he has the perfect combo, the rest of us are abusive and ignorant. It is this type of behavior that causes division in a well functioning family here at PP. MLD’s comment about ignoring crybabies was good counsel.”

    Covered, your comments are very disturbing, they are VERY disturbing because you say you are a Pastor. I was going to ask what church you pastor but I think it’d be wise for you to stay anonymous.

    Ignoring crybabies? Really? Is that what you think of your congregation that loves and supports you?

    True story: the CC that I loved and spent most time with, one of the major splits came over a “crybaby”. Which honestly, I was more than happy to see go, as she had a problem with me. But as I started to listen to other complaints of how the situation was handled and how it caused them to leave, I saw the Mose’s model was VERY WRONG. Regardless of the “crybaby”, the church was her home, one that she had given countless hours of service and their family leaving affected many people negatively.

    What I’m trying to say is, have compassion. You might think the banner of “abuse” is absurd but to them the abuse is real. You might think you’re removing a trouble maker, but what you don’t see is a family displaced from their home church. Although, removal may be the correct reaction (their feud was dividing many) you need to feel COMPASSION toward your fellow brothers and sisters, moreso because God has called you to lead them.

    As for PP, I don’t feel there is division. It has always had a anti-Calvary Chapel slant. I don’t know why you and Steve stick around to continually apologize for CC’s behavior, but that’s your prerogative.

  156. covered says:

    Nonnie, that is hilarious! Re the video you posted. That is a tough situation. I think that sharing the gospel to this group was a great opportunity. If the upper management disagrees, then ask forgiveness but never regret sharing God’s Word. When I served in the Sudan one of my staff members asked me to officiate his father’s memorial service. There were over 150 Muslims in attendance and some thanked me. Not only that but this was in 2008 when they wanted to behead a Christian teacher for naming the class mascot (teddy bear) Mohammad. Ready in season…

  157. covered says:

    Fly, as usual, you open your mouth without understanding what is being said. The crybabies I spoke of are here posting and not anyone in my congregation. When are you going to get off the CC thing? There are other blogs for that and I am not a part of CC.

  158. Fly on a Wall says:

    As for tearing down CCCM and starting anew, I took that from Scripture:

    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

    That’s from the big G himself.

    As for the Moses Model and CCCM, I’m no expert, but I could write a two page essay on the topic. I’ll try to sum it up in a sentence: CCCM was an exemplary church for decades, but when it started to put the brand’s desires above God’s, the leadership model broke down.

  159. covered says:

    Fly, please tell me that big G isn’t God… If it is, it sure explains alot.

  160. I want it to be known that I’m all for Calvary Chapel. They are part of the body, just like me.

  161. covered says:

    As I said yesterday, Rev. five. nine. This includes CC and Baptists 🙂 (maybe Lutheran’s too)

  162. Michael says:

    Both men are here as part of the community representing their own opinions just as you are.
    The problems with the church extend far beyond the Moses Model and my concerns do too.
    I enjoy and seek diversity in tradition here…I’m the token Calvinist.
    I believe those dialogs with those we differ with are valuable…your mileage may vary.

  163. covered,
    The problem with these inter faith situations it becomes a beauty pageant of Gods. Each religious leader get’s up and says “vote for my God.”

    It causes confusion when the Rabbi, the Iman, the Dali Lama and the Christian pastor all get up and begin prayer with “Dear God…” it does not clarify anything. Lutherans, especially LCMS have great problems with this.

    Look at all the confusion that was caused when Rick Warren took the stage with Greg Laurie and Chuck Smith a couple of years ago. That one is still rippling through the system – and those are Christians.

  164. Nonnie says:

    Re your 158 Covered. What an awesome opportunity.

  165. Fly on a Wall says:

    Covered: you obviously have a problem with me. I present issues, you attack ad hominem. I’m not here to boost Michael’s hit counter. I’m not replying to you anymore unless you give a useful rebuttal to my opinions.

    As for Steve being here, didn’t I just get through saying we need to stop attacking him because he is part of the PP community? But if he’s just going to apologize for CC and ignore concerns we present before him (in the appropriate post, btw, you don’t see me criticizing CC in the prayer post), then I’ll return the favor and ignore him. If he’s going to come in to a thread that is criticizing a church leadership model that his mother church is infamous for, that’s his perogative. But he better get ready to get reamed. Because the issues we have are honest and real.

    I see like this: a staunch Republican sees his Democratic Brother-in-law enter a Republican convention and start spewing Democratic ideologies (yes, I picked those parties on purpose, haha). But the Republican still invites the Brother-in-law to dinner afterwards. The BOL might not be interested after getting beat up and ridiculed, but my question is this: why was he there knowing what the convention was about?

    And lastly, just to be a shameless attention whore, I’m not as anti-Calvary Chapel as I may seem on here. I more anti-megachurch and anti-Evangelical (sorta, I disagree with a lot of the marketing strategies they employ, not the fact they want to evangelize to the world). But Calvary Chapel seems to be PP’s and God’s punching bag, so I voice my criticism with a CC slant.

    TBH: there’s other Evangelical churches that are WAY MORE off base and carnal than CC. I’ll give you a clue, two are closeby CCCM.

  166. Michael says:

    No one should expect to get reamed here,especially folks who choose to engage here in a familial manner.
    You seem to think you are representing someone other than yourself…

  167. Fly,
    “but my question is this: why was he there knowing what the convention was about?”

    to give a different perspective.

  168. covered says:

    Fly, Steve speaks for his church, the church that he was called to shepherd. All you know about Steve is what you have heard elsewhere and that he is a pastor of a CC. Steve does not apologize for CC but he stands for what he does as a pastor.

    Fly, I don’t want to be your enemy but you must admit, you have taken things out of context and reacted emotionally to them. I see that Michael, MLD and (0 )====::: have all dealt kindly with your inflammatory comments. It would be appreciated if you read things through before you respond.

    I hope that we can get along.

  169. Ixtlan says:

    It is not Steve’s responsibility to fix Calvary Chapel. His involvment with that denomination is his business and in the same way, I would tell his colleagues that his involvment here is none of their business. He is not obligated to fix the situations that you consider to be problem. I don’t ask anyone else to change my tire when I get a flat.

    I think Chile nailed it on #141. In the context of that post, I have always found that if I wanted an ally in my fights, I first had to treat people with respect and act in a way that represented my own cause in a good light. Most people who congregate here have suffered ecclesiastical abuse in one way shape or form. Marx stumbled upon a grain of truth when he declared religion to be the opiate of the masses……. and detox is a tough road to travel…

    One a lighter note, I love country, hillbilly, cowboy, country hippie type of music…..


  170. covered says:

    MLD, I do remember the Crusade that featured Chuck and Warren and it did turn heads. In the case of the Lutheran and the interfaith service that Nonnie eluded to, I think that this is a different situation because the opportunity to share the gospel was there for those who don’t accept Jesus as their Savior. I do understand your point about confusion but as a pastor, we think that this is what we need to do. It’s our way of being persecuted 🙂

  171. Ixtlan says:

    “I more anti-megachurch and anti-Evangelical (sorta, I disagree with a lot of the marketing strategies they employ,”

    Now that is something I can give an amen to….. at least to the anti mega-church part.

  172. covered says:

    Ixtlan, Marchall Tucker Band? The Outlaws?

  173. Ixtlan says:

    Not quiet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a PPL song every so often. Give it a listen. Most bands are not extremely popular, but they definitely have a following. And some are not really evangelical friendly. Deer Tick, Woodbox Gang, Milk Drive…….

  174. Covered,
    The confusion is not in the words being said – it is in the fact that you would be participating in the worship service of non Christians as if all gods and forms of worship are equal.

    “I saw covered bow his head when the Muslim was praying to Allah – I guess that means they are all praying to the same god.” See what I mean?

  175. covered says:

    MLD, I hear you but as a pastor, it’s a tough call. When G. W. attended an inter faith service after 911 it did bother me. One thing in my favor is that no one cares what covered has to say so it’s not like my phone is ringing off the hook to appear at the next Who’s your Daddy rally 🙂

  176. Reuben says:

    I love Deer Tick

  177. covered says:

    Hey Ixtlan,

    I just listened to Mr. Cigarette, Miss K, Dead Flowers (Stones orig) and Bring Me My Shotgun, I’m a believer! These guys are good. From Rhode Island? Wow, thanks. What do you think of Need to Breathe?

  178. Ixtlan says:

    I like them. They are getting some air play here. I only listen to the radio when I’m driving; rarely listen to music much at home except when I am blogging or reading.

  179. Jim Jr. says:

    I learned in college that Paul’s letters were likely read to the entire assembly since most were illiterate.
    If that’s the case, then Michael, your observations are absolutely spot-on.
    But I’m not a scholar or anything…

  180. Fly,
    “I’ve read a lot of blogs, and mainly its because I’m trying to figure out what God is telling me.”

    May I suggest that you are doing it wrong. If you want to know what God is telling, you must read your Bible – that is the only place God speaks to you… in his word.

    Now, if you keep reading this blog, you will hear what me, Michael, Steve, Babs, Paps and several others are telling you.

  181. Chile says:

    Oops! I wrote the opposite of what I intended in #141’s last sentence:

    “Problems will arise in every church, but a structure with concentrated power DOES NOT give the Believers a chance to deal with the issues appropriately.”

    Hope that doesn’t change your assessment of it, lxtlan.

  182. Ixtlan says:


    I rolled the dice and realized that it must have been an editing issue as it did not fit with the rest of the context. Lot’s of experience with exegesis and parsing verbs pays off in the blogging/texting world…..

  183. Alex says:

    Mods, please correct Jim Jr’s. #183. I am not Fly, I have no clue who it is, though I agree with a lot of the person’s recent assessment. Mods, check the back-end and confirm the location, I’m sure you’ll find it’s not me. Thanks and peace.

  184. Reuben says:

    Fly is not Alex. Michael stated that Alex would not be discussed here. Some folks forgot, that fast. So here is the deal. I see his name brought up, I don’t care if it is followed with flowers and cookies, your comment goes in the trash.

    There are, to my knowledge, 3 available mods. One is sick and busy, the other two are flat out busy. It is not too much to ask for some cooperation from the community. So if you are prepared to Alex comment, do this mod a favor, and escort yourself out now.

  185. Jim Jr. says:

    Fly sounds like someone that is motivated by the lesser angels of our nature.

  186. Jim Jr. sounds like someone who had a dad named Jim.

  187. Josh – LOL 🙂

  188. from this corner says:

    a couple news items from reading the internet disturbed me this week … the reader posts (on a news site) regarding a certain pre-school scandal, saying the children’s behavior was ‘normal,’ and, the other was some Phxp reactions to the superbowl’s immodest (that’s an understatement IMV) entertainment displays that turned up here … i am disturbed because i realize how insidiously we’ve accepted society’s view of what is “normal” in every area of life … IMNSHO

    BRAVO to CBS – news item this morning: “CBS wants Grammys talent covered up –
    The Grammy Awards is typically the place where stars can let it all hang out, but CBS’ Standards department is hoping to keep nudity to a minimum during this year’s show……”

  189. covered says:

    Josh, you could say James the lesser 🙂

  190. London says:

    If you like the folks that blog at other blogs so much, perhaps it would be a better fit if you spend more than there than here.

  191. Ah, Fly’s a good guy, just finding his way. I hope he (she?) keeps contributing.

  192. Jim Jr. says:


  193. Theo S. says:

    Steve Wright said: “A Board meeting, duly announced, attended, called to order, recorded in the minutes, and adjourned, in accordance with the written bylaws of the church (and the laws of the state) concerning such meetings is NOT a ‘secret backroom’ deal.”

    Well, I guess it all depends on what your definition of “secret” is.

    Minutes are often sanitized or written in very generalized or vague terms before being made available for public consumption. In most cases, they are not posted where anyone can easily access them – a member usually has to ask which is often fraught with a feeling of intimidation and being singled out for scrutiny. “Why do want to see the minutes?” Worse yet, the possibility of being accused of “sinning through questioning.” In so-called “elder led” or “Moses-model” churches, such requests by a member will be subject to suspicion, as “members” have no real say in how the church is governed anyway.

    If the rank-and-file members have no say, then all such board meetings are essentially “secret” meetings conducted in a back room, even if everything is “all legal” and “in accordance with the written bylaws of the church and the laws of the state.”

  194. Lutheran says:

    Theo S,

    Seems to me that the bigger issue in the type of church you describe is, “what kind of church culture do we have?” The minutes, etc. and access to them aren’t really the issue. If you’re in a church where you feel fear and trepidation when you even think about requesting such, I think it’s time to change churches.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean when you put “elder led” and ‘Moses model’ churches next to each other, in the same sentence. To me, elder led implies shared leadership. Moses model, not at all.

  195. Lutheran says:

    Here’s one for the record books. I have to conclude this guy has been spending a little much time on end-times speculations.

    I really can’t imagine anyone quitting a job because they found “666” on their tax form. But as my late Dad would say, “It takes all kinds.” 🙂

    “Christian Worker Quits Job When He Spots ’666′ On Tax Form”


  196. Steve Wright says:

    Amen to Lutheran’s #198.

    If one is truly bothered by the fact that there is not a congregational, member voting structure in place, then why choose that church for a church home. It’s not like this is something that one doesn’t find out about for 10 years.

    If I’m looking for a church home, there are certain things that are important to me and I will inquire about them typically online before I even visit, and certainly will look to do so in the first week or two. There are other things that are not important to me as well.

    Which goes back to my post #149.

  197. covered says:

    Lutheran makes a great point. Why would anyone attend a church where there is such little trust? If I felt that the pastor and leaders of the church were not conducting business with integrity, I would definitely find another church. By the way, just by virtue of asking to see minutes would not cause me to think that there’s a trust issue unless they specifically said so.

  198. covered says:

    Theo S, in your #197 you state that in the case of a Moses Model or Elder Led churches that the congregation has no say and I disagree. While we are Elder led, it seems that most of the business discussed is a result of information, suggestions and recommendations made by anyone in the church. Being Elder led does not take away the ability to have a voice in decisions because most of the decisions are based on recommendations from the body. In fact, I can tell you that anyone who attends the church and feels that there is a ministry or direction for ministry that has a burden on their heart has seen that thought come to fruition. Someone may ask about an outreach to feed the homeless in our community and all we ask is that you provide the logistics and a budget. We don’t prohibit people from having a voice we encourage them to speak so we can “equip them for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ”. Theo, God has provided in a way that we have several outreaches throughout the year to serve our community with meals and provide funds for utility bills etc., we have an awesome kid’s summer camp and VBS that we don’t charge anyone for, our missions program allows us to send and support in several countries. Keep in mind that our church attendance is around 100 and I can honestly say that each person feels as though it’s their church and that they have a voice.

    I’m sure that you may know of a church or churches who are Moses Led or Elder Led and there were problems but that isn’t the case 100% of the time.

  199. Theo S. says:

    Covered: “I’m sure that you may know of a church or churches who are Moses Led or Elder Led and there were problems but that isn’t the case 100% of the time.”

    You are right, of course – not 100%; but a high enough percentage overshadows the few good ones. Let’s face it.

    Lots of blaming the victims, the abused sheep, in this thread. Let’s face it, most believers don’t debate the finer points of theology and church government structure when they join a church. They come because they want to worship Christ. They want to find a church where they can bring their family and hear an engaging sermon. The breach of trust often does happen years down the road, Steve Wright’s comments notwithstanding.

    Masses of people have left abusive churches – and there are a whole lot of “nones” out there – those who have not left their faith in Jesus but who are gun-shy about getting sucked into another hierarchical, top-down lead 501c3 organization. And, when most joined a church, they were likely convinced by smooth-talkers in the pulpit who convinced them that there was true accountability and shared elder leadership. In “elder-led” or “Moses-model” organizations (and many so-called “elder led” organizations are just camouflaged “Moses-model” outfits), the rank-and-file are not usually privvy to what goes on behind the scenes. They “trust” their “lead pastor” leader is not a narcissistic con-man surrounded by yes-men sycophants.

    For many, it is not until after a few years and an investment of their lives that they discover they were sold a bill of goods. Leaving is difficult because they have established relationships, their children have friends in the church, etc. And for many, leaving the “covering” is a frightening prospect – being shamed, branded, and too often – shunned. Most stay, resolved that by being there they might “make a difference.” In most cases, that is a comfortable delusion.

  200. erunner says:

    Bethel Lutheran Church… Drove by it today and their big sign states that the way to make holy water is to scare the hell out of it! :mrgreen:

  201. PP Vet says:

    The problem comes when the pastor-owned church gives a false sense of enfranchisement to manipulate attendees into greater involvement.

    It is akin to the bastardization of the term “family”. The pastor calls the people his “family” then leaves and hardly talks to any of them again. Again, that is a ploy to draw people with what is, at heart, a false assurance.

    The end result is the destabilizing of true families, not the affirmation of them.

    A restaurant owner can call his regular guests family without them thinking they own the place. Not so the pastor.

    Nothing wrong with a core leadership group being covenanted together in ministry. Go for it.

    But beware of being lured into a sense of ownership when in truth you have no ownership. Know your sphere, know your calling, and know what you own and what you do not own.

  202. Jim Jr. says:

    That was a good one.

  203. Good discussion here! I am staying away from commenting very much, but i saw this article and it applied to the conversation so i thought I would share it here.

    Back to bystanding.

  204. Steve Wright says:

    Derek, thank you for the article. It seems Wade Burleson places the weight of his argument on a definition of ekklesia that I was unfamiliar with. So I checked multiple Greek resources in my library and nowhere do I see the definition he emphasizes of an assembly or congregation “with equal authority”

    So I am clear, I am not arguing for greater spirituality amongst some, nor am I arguing against congregational voting. I am saying that his argument for his point of view is not accurate, based on the consensus of Greek scholars as noted in the key reference texts like BDAG and Moulton/Milligan. But then again, how many of his readers have Greek dictionaries and lexicons with which to check him out?

    If any of the readers here understand ekklesia to be defined as W.B. does and has a source to reference, I would be interested.

    I also noted in the comments that someone mentioned a Hebrews verse that W.B. replied was going to be the focus of his next message and that he would be sharing why the church through history has taught this passage incorrectly.

    As for me, that sort of thing is a red flag. If I’m the only one teaching something out there, then I figure I must be wrong.

  205. “They want to find a church where they can bring their family and hear an engaging sermon.”

    How sad. Who goes to church to hear an engaging sermon? Theo S., if you went to a liturgical church you would find so much more – with the sermon ranking near the bottom of the things happening there.

    People need to change their reason, if that is indeed the reason – there is only one reason to go to church – to see God at work and to receive his good gifts.

  206. Steve Wright says:

    I’ve spent more time looking in more places and have yet to find even one person that uses the definition as stated in that article. I do see that one after another after another continue to use the same definition, namely a called out assembly (with the called out aspect even diminished in some views by NT times).

    Again, without using this in the present discussion, it points to a larger error. Reference to early 6th century Greece was the main weight given to a definition of a word used centuries later. Even if the word had that meaning then (debatable) there is no guarantee it survived in that form. Greek DEMOCRACY didn’t even survive in that form for more than 200 years or so. We certainly see this in our English and the Koine Greek of Scripture is also subject to this linguistic evolution from its earlier, classical Attic and Ionic heritage.

    Given the word is used regularly to describe Israel in the Septuagint, common sense should remind us Israel did not all gather as those with equal authority in spiritual matters or anything else. Israel was about as different from 6th-4th century BC Greece democracy as one might imagine.

    And in the NT, certainly the apostles had more authority than other believers in the early years. Paul constantly pointed to his special authority and thus the need for them to listen to him and Jesus certainly seemed to make the apostles the foundation for the ekklesia.

    To repeat again, I am not making an argument in any way shape or form here against congregational voting. I am making the case that the argument FOR congregational voting, weighted so heavily on a faulty definition, is no argument at all.

  207. Jim Jr. says:

    That’s a damn good one.

  208. Steve is right – the case made was impotent.

    But here is what I would like to see – Congregational Sunday, where the pastor says “today I am opening up for discussion our form of government.”
    – first how many here would like to have a say in how this church is governed?
    – here are our choices
    1.) I keep centralized control over the church and choose my own elder board to assist me.
    2.) I keep centralized control over the church, but you vote for elders to assist me.
    3.) I keep control over Word & Sacrament and you elect elders to run the church – and these elders report back to you at quarterly meetings.

    Then the pastor must clarify for the church, for open disclosure reasons, “If you decide you want a voice and a vote, then we do need to create a voting membership – which in and of itself will require us to disclose financials, and other boring details to you, since being a member is likened to being stockholders.”

    I wonder how congregants would react?

    Now that would be a fun weekend. 🙂

  209. covered says:

    Thanks Derek, that was an interesting article. One of my issues here is that if anyone opposes the idea of congregational government, then a red flag goes up and others assume we must want a dictatorship. That simply is not the case. Everyone who wants a voice has a voice. The areas that we aren’t willing to open to the body are areas like who is in children’s ministry, who is on the worship team, who leads our youth. I cannot disclose why some people can’t serve in specific areas. If I am aware that someone has a drinking problem, do I let him serve anywhere he wants because 51 people think he’s a great guy? I certainly can’t share that he has a drinking problem with those 51 folks.

    The areas that most people agree are problem areas with an Elder led church can be designed to avoid problems. As the pastor, I have no access to money. All counseling with females is done with another female in the room etc. It is not perfect but so I can see problems with every form of leadership in the church.

  210. Steve Wright says:

    MLD – Curious question (and Lutheran, Reuben and others with membership can chime in).

    1. Do you require a certain amount of time before one can begin membership process. Or can someone show up week one and say they want to be a member and you get the ball rolling.

    2. Can the membership process begin at any time, or do you have set times to start (and if the latter, what is the status of prospective members before the classes start)

    3. Can someone automatically be a member if they come from another church of your same tribe?

    4. If someone flakes out during the membership process, what do you do? Do you start over whenever they want to? Do they pick up where they left off?

    5. What if an official member never is at worship, but at a significant time when major issues are on the table he/she shows up then and seeks to dominate the assembly?

  211. Lutheran says:


    1. No. Usually, the individual interested in becoming a member says so to the pastor. If the person has been attending for a good while, the pastor might gently inquire if they’re interested in becoming a member.

    2. Probably depends on the size of the church. If it’s a smaller size church, there’s no set time. It’s whenever it works out for the prospective member/family and the pastor to meet.
    I imagine that in a really large church, there might be membership classes held on a schedule (such as quarterly).

    Our Lutheran pastor spent about a year with me and my family. We had no Lutheran background to speak of, and my kids were of confirmation age, so we all were catechized and received as members together. But that was our pastor’s decision and we were happy to meet with him and get so much of his time and counsel!

    3. The short answer is yes. But typically the pastor will meet with them anyway to answer any questions, etc.

    4. I can’t imagine this happening. What do you mean by “flake out”? I mean, if they were to change their mind and not want to join, then obviously, membership classes would stop.

    5. If they haven’t been showing up and have had little interaction with other parishoners, they’re not going to “dominate the assembly.” In our church, when something comes up for a vote, everyone there votes. That “dominator” only has 1 vote. So the vote might be 100-1.

  212. Steve,
    Great questions and I am glad you asked.

    1.) I don’t think there is a set time that they have to be attending before the process gets rolling. To be a member is to be a confirmed member, so they have to go through the confirmation process, like kids go through catechism class. It is a more streamlined process for adults. In my church it is a 10 week set of classes. As I have said in the past it is not to exclude people, but to be sure that they know what we believe, teach and confess – so that they know what they are getting into.

    2.) The classes begin quarterly. In the mean time, I guess the folks are “attendees.” Some people have gone to our church for quite some time and have never had the desire for membership for whatever reason. We do have a category of associate membership, where they would still qualify for pastoral services – weddings, funerals etc.

    3.) People coming from other Lutheran churches request to have their membership transfer, so there is a process from one church to the other. Before being accepted into membership at our church, they go through a 2 week “get acquainted” program where they learn about our little idiosyncratic ways and to meet staff and leadership. Again, this is so that we can know them a little and that they will know who we are.

    4.) On this one I don’t know. I do know that in our last class we had a guy who has been coming on and off for the past 20 yrs with his wife who is a member and finally decided to go all in – he went through the classes.

    5.) Technically, our By Laws require that to retain voting privileges a member must have attended at least 40% of the worship services in the past quarter and be a participant in the Lord’s Supper. There is probably a gray area on how this is enforced,

  213. Clarification on #1 – confirmation classes or more commonly called Adult Information Classes are held quarterly – so they do need to wait for the new cycle.

  214. This is the best example of an Adult Information Class I have seen – from Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle Washington. It’s a 15 week class.

    I think it is quite a Christian education


  215. Chile says:

    My experience with membership churches is that they have a higher view of the people attending, imo. Usually there is a mutual respect and not so much an “us” vs. “them” mentality.

    I have family members who have been pastors, vicors, etc… for decades in churches with memberships. Their experience is that they rarely ran into any issues, and the few they had required a little wisdom and the problem was averted. They say the subject is a non-issue for them.

    My current Evangelical church has membership classes for all who want to become voting members regardless of where they came from. The statement of faith is reviewed with questions encouraged. The by-laws are handed out and reviewed with questions encouraged. And other classes are made available as a next step for anyone who has more questions about the faith, or more questions about the by-laws. Each must make a personal statement of faith/testimony, but they video tape it so shy people don’t have to be frightened out of membership. The Discipleship Pastors involved with this use wisdom and gentleness to respond to where people are at when they come. They are not afraid of those who are frightened and angry due to previous spiritual abuse, either. They see it as a privilege to help the wounded. At least, that’s what they communicated to me in word and in what I was able to observe.

    It seems to have served them well for 70 years.

    To focus on the details of how a membership process might turn up some issues seems like putting the emPHAsis on the wrong syLAble. When leaders start with understanding that members are not beneath them, that a leader’s role is one of humble servanthood, then it’s easier to see the need for accountability in all directions: Pastor (if you have a role for one in your church,) Elders, Deacons, Board (to comply with the law,) Members. There should be a way that each has some voice and each can call the other to account without anyone holding all the trump cards. Giving more decision making power where spiritual maturity is required (such as the office of elders, and an implied board,) and where Scripture has already placed a requirement such as with becoming a deacon, makes sense. but still giving people and up or down vote, or a place to bring their concerns about any of the leaders is vital. The Scriptures tell us in the qualifications that both elders and deacons must have a good reputation in the community. Often leaders won’t know some of the bad reputations unless they give a voice to the people to confirm or deny such bad reports.

    In my previous church, an assistant pastor and his wife had very bad reputations in the neighborhood. It was earned. But the leaders of the church did not realize this. Since the two were very powerful in their roles at the church, no one dared offer the information because it would negatively affect them and their families. As a result, the information spread from the neighborhood to all over the town. The damage seems irreparable at this point. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with people about their relationship with God only to hear them say, “I may try a church, but NEVER THAT one!” because of the poor testimony of the assistant pastor and his wife … who remain in that post to this day. If the church had membership, and the people were able to discreetly voice a concern, this could have been corrected a long time ago and this man and his wife may have changed instead of becoming entrenched in their power and self-righteousness.

  216. Steve Wright says:

    Thanks Lutheran and MLD.

    Though MLD, that expression ‘associate membership so as to qualify for pastoral services’ sounds a little like something you read at Costco. Eating samples again were you? 🙂

  217. TedS. says:

    Great comment Steve.

    As for your comment above to Derek, “It seems Wade Burleson places the weight of his argument on a definition of ekklesia that I was unfamiliar with…” it strains credulity. If you are sincere, I find it difficult to believe that you are leading a church in the US and are “unfamiliar” with that definition. You must live in a hermetically sealed bubble, or you intentionally do not keep yourself abreast with current trends and movements in Christendom. Not saying that’s wrong, mind you – just scratching my head.

  218. Steve Wright says:

    TedS – In all sincerity, I assure you I have yet to see someone who could be cited as a Greek scholar, emphasize that one added part: ‘with equal authority’ in any connection to the definition as used in Scripture. In fact, I haven’t read a single exegetical commentary or paper that said that. I think I’ve read a few and we certainly discussed the word often in my three years of Greek in seminary.

    If you have a source to a lexicon or dictionary,a scholary reference on a new papyri discovery, as I said above, I would like to see it. I explained the problems with W.B.’s line of argument in the earlier post. If men like Robertson, Bauer, Arndt, Danker, Gingrich, Moulton, Milligan did not go down that path, I too am hesitant. Even if it does “preach well”

    I would add that proper definitions of words in Koine Greek from 2000 years ago seems like something that would be immune from “current trends and movements in Christendom”.

    Now, if someone with a following has hijacked a word and multiple disciples are repeating the new “meaning” then I am blissfully ignorant. 🙂

  219. Jim Jr. says:

    Excellent! Hijacking a word and getting multiple disciples to repeat it is how victory is achieved in the 21st century.

  220. Chile says:

    Theo S.’ 203 and PP Vet’s 205 are excellent points!

  221. Ixtlan says:

    my 185 was a response to Chile’s 184…. not 187…. but you probably figured that out. I’ll blame it on….eh, nevermind.

  222. TedS. says:

    “[T]here is only one reason to go to church – to see God at work and to receive his good gifts.” — according to MLD

    One could read the scriptures over and over and one would be hard pressed to come to that conclusion without outside coaching from those who have their private interpretation of what the scriptures say IMHO.

  223. Ted S,
    Your response gets only one reaction out of me “WOW!” I can’t believe that you don’t go to church to see God at work amongst his people and that you don’t feel you are receiving anything from God. In my church, even with it’s “private interpretations” we consider EVEN the sermon a good gift from God.

    But since you have this all worked out, you might point out to me where scripture states that the purpose of going to church is to “hear an engaging sermon.”

    Speaking of private interpretations, you don’t think that the “engaging speaker” who spends 45 min on a 5 verse pericope isn’t filling time with his private interpretation? 🙂

  224. London says:

    T.S.of course there’s more than one reason to go to church, and hearing a good sermon is just as valid as any other. MLD has a bit of a narrow focus and sometimes is hard pressed to understand that just because your reason is different than his reason, doesn’t make it wrong.

  225. London has a narrow focus and is sometimes hard pressed to understand that just because my opinion is different that hers, does not make my opinion wrong. 😉

  226. TedS. says:

    “You might point out to me where scripture states that the purpose of going to church is to ‘hear an engaging sermon.’” — MLD

    Dear MLD: I never said that was the purpose. Many do go for that reason, I suppose. But your statement claiming that “There is only one reason to go to church” is a reason that I cannot find in scripture.

  227. Lutheran says:

    Ted S.,

    I’d like to know your reasons to go to church, from God’s Word.

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