Things I Think

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135 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday … again

  2. Nonnie says:

    “9. Christian maturity is in evidence when your desired outcome in a dispute is reconciliation rather than victory…and the opposite is true as well.”

    I honestly cannot understand why Christians, who have been forgiven, washed in the blood of Christ, redeemed by grace, would not desire reconciliation; and if that cannot happen in all it’s fullness,( we are, after all, very broken people), then can we not pray for and want the best for that person? Maybe this side of heaven, we will not have the relationship healed, but why can’t we want the best in Christ for the other person? Why would we not want to be released and healed ourselves? In finding that healing and freedom, we can pray for that other person. Then live out our life free from guilt over whatever it was that caused the breech.

    Oh, and a very happy birthday to you, Michael! The Lord has used you so much in my life. I am thankful to be your friend!

  3. Congregationalism, as practiced by the Baptists is the worst form of religion on the planet. It is democracy run rampant… it is the tyranny of cranks and little popes. Having lived under it for 25 years I would consider those years to have amounted to about 10 max. The rest were wasted in DUE PROCESS and HOW YOU DO THINGS and making sure EVERYONE IS ONBOARD. Those churches bite and devour one another AND their ministers worse than any system on the planet.

    Any person with a bad attitude and misinformation can fill the are with verbal flatulence. Any person with influence and an axe to grind can destroy the congregation in the interest of truth and justice. It is quite frankly the vilest form of church life I can imagine. The congregations that use open business meetings, committees, democratic votes and parliamentary procedure leave you longing for a king.

    I haven’t weighed in nearly enough on the issue of pastor led churches because of the scars of congregationalism. My favorite theologian was a leading Congregationalist minister. I am sure his churches and the governance of his system did not look like the congregationalism into which I was baptized. That form, splits churches and fosters the worst religion on the planet.

    I would rather have 10,000 Chuck Smiths than 10 like where I have been. I survived that system only to the degree that I, by force of personal will, strength, favor of the people and charm(imagine that) was able to subvert the spewing of every democratic opinion in the churches I led. We survived by suppressing cranks with an atmosphere that exposed them for what they were and embarrassed them. However, they lay in the weeds waiting to strike at the first sign of weakness. And as soon as a strong leader made a mistake they capitalized on it with rumor, innuendo, accusation and just pure meanness. I would either be dead from stress or out of the ministry by now had I remained in that damned system.

    Ranting Dread

  4. Andy says:

    2. Because the congregation doesn’t know what it’s doing either, and believe it or not, they’re much worse at running things than the pastor.

    3. I know people that have changed churches over bloggers. Most of it was for doctrinal reasons, rather than abuse reasons.

    10. Happy birthday.

  5. Nonnie says:

    “1. The hardest part about being middle aged is that you pretty much are what you are going to be when you grow up…”

    I hear you on that! A couple of years ago we got dual citizenship so we could have an EU passport, in case the Lord would lead us to move to another country in the EU. Then it hit us, “Really? Are we going to be moving and staring all over again in our mid 60’s?” LOL!! But then….I guess, anything is possible! 🙂

  6. 1. Lalalalalala…I can’t hear you.

    2. Congregationalism isn’t making a resurgence…
    The answer is the same as your #3.

    3. True

    4. The problem is in us, not the book…AMEN!

    5. Perhaps…but at least you’ll be in good company.

    6. “Lone Ranger” – There were some funny moments, but they really did make the Ranger out to be a bumbling idiot. I’ll stick with the Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels version.

    7. 🙁

    8. Offended beyond your ability in the flesh to do either…yep.

    9. Christian maturity is in evidence when your desired outcome in a dispute is reconciliation rather than victory…and the opposite is true as well. That’s a whole sermon right there. I’ll probably end up quoting you on this someday, but not until I’ve learned to practice it first.

    10. Happy birthday, my friend! I’m adding a bit of Kahlua to my morning coffee in your honor.

  7. Rob Murphy says:

    I was going to say something witty about congregationalism, like, ‘they would take over but can’t agree on a meeting date, who will bring the donuts, what kind of coffee to buy … after the vote on buying the coffee maker and of course, who has the authority to call the meeting to order, but it’s too much work to drive around collecting the dead and the infirm to stack the vote in favor of some Multi-headed Machiavellian machination….’

    But Dread’s post was better @ 3.

    That’s the voice of experience right there. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. One tyrant or a group of thirty separate tyrants, you just have to get your neck fitted for more boots.

    Congregational Anarchists, Unite!

  8. Rob Murphy says:

    Ah, forgot to yodel out to you Michael: Habbbyberfffffddaaayyyyyy tooooo youuuuuuuuu!

  9. Dread is correct about congregationalism. Unfortunately, its the best thing going.

  10. Nonnie says:

    Rob, I have been on “planning committees” just as you described. It’s crazy, and nothing get accomplished until one person steps up and “takes charge.” Hopefully that person is leading with a heart toward the Lord.

    What is needed is a “benevolent dictator.” Is there such a thing?

  11. bishopdave says:

    So what we’re saying is that due to all the sinners in a church, any form of church govt/ polity is going to be tainted. Unlike the New Testament believers who were perfectly united and never had unity problems, moral problems, petty jealousies, power mongers, etc.If you stop reading at Acts 2.

  12. bishopdave says:

    “Benevolent dictator”–:D at a previous pastorate, my predecessor’s final message he referred to how he was a benevolent dicatator to the congregation. That was 1998; to this day several of those people will spew their drink no matter what context you use the phrase “benevolent dictator.” To faithfully wield that title, you must have no guile in your heart; which eliminates all except Jesus.

  13. Xenia says:

    I agree with Dread about Baptist-style congregationalism. The only churches I ever attended where people actively HATED each other were congregationalist Baptist churches.

  14. Michael says:

    I think my church is congregational…if they get tired of me they can just lock the front door…

  15. Xenia says:

    At congregationalist churches I have attended (one for 10 years):

    1. No pastor ever lasted longer than 2 years.

    2. The worst elements of the church (egomaniacs) rose to the top and insisted on having everything done their way.

    3. A two-party system developed.

    4. There were congregational meetings where people said extremely hurtful things to each other

    5. Humility was nowhere to be seen, except on the part of the poor pastor who always wondered if each sermon would be his last because he was sure to offend one party or the other, no matter what he said or didn’t say.

    6. If a big issue was on the agenda, proponents would call up all the members who never attended but had voting rights, tell them only one side of the issue, and skew the election.

    7. Certain types would sit on the edge of their pews every Sunday, just daring the pastor to say something that they could use as evidence that he was doctrinally unsound, either too strict or too liberal.

    8. The pastor’s wife was a nervous wreck. I know one who literally went nuts!

    9. It’s pretty hard to obey your leader if you can fire him if you disagree with him.

    10. Sunday mornings could be pretty tense, believe me. Every two years the pastor would announce his resignation and you always wondered if this was the Sunday.

    11. Decent pastors would come and go but the core group of control freakish egomaniacs would endure for ever.

  16. Gary says:

    1, At 60 I’m still hoping for a burning bush experience.

    2, Prolly cuz those with the money won’t let it happen. I do believe the biblical model is ruel by a bored of elders but we don’t know how to qualify elders. It’s a chicken and egg sitch.

    3, Blogging is like a glove. It needs a fist behind it.

    4, YES!!

    5, Ten years is a pretty good educated guess. I give it five to ten.

    6, I was so looking forward to seeing this movie but I read too many bad reviews. I’m sick of remakes of yesterday’s heroes into modern (post modern) anti heroes. I don’t even go to see Superman or Batman movies. The last good movie I saw was Hugo.

    7, Sorry to hear about that.

    8, That’s the sitch between me and my CCCM brother.

    9, I vacillate on that.

    10, m.h.r.o.t.d. and not just a six pack. 😉

  17. Nonnie says:

    Bishop Dave….Yes I understand. What I was trying to say was there is no perfect solution, this side of heaven.

  18. Xenia says:

    And yes, I prefer the Moses model to congregationalism.

  19. Muff Potter says:

    Michael,
    On no. 5 from things I think:

    I have every confidence that the form of government crafted by our founders will ensure your right to preach & teach the dictates of your conscience from the pulpit as you see fit.

    I also believe that those of other faiths and those of non-faith will enjoy the same liberty.

  20. I would probably fit the category of Moses leadership… that this blog faithfully detests. With these caveats. I have an active eldership of people who can tell me NO. I have overseers outside my church who have the authority to discipline or remove me. I have trustees who control my salary and oversee the finances. But in all cases I have a hand in determining who those people are.

    We have no committees, no business meetings, no votes. We have a family relational atmosphere. And yes we have defections and occasional unhappy members. We have the normal problems of a church.

    The prospects for church governance is about the same as the prospects for family. People make both hard to manage. I do not base my hope for either upon the success rate of existing models.

  21. I like congregational churches and the in fighting and back biting. It’s how you know that we are still on this side of the grave.

  22. Michael says:

    Muff,

    Up until probably this last year I would have agreed with you.
    I hope you’re right, but I’m not so certain about many of our rights anymore.

  23. Gary says:

    Muff,
    I have every confidence that our current president is crafting a coup.

  24. Nonnie says:

    In this day and age of Political Correctness, nothing will surprise me. Anyone can say just about anything, but speak the name of Jesus, and His word, and all hell can break loose.

  25. The only time that I know of that God apparently gave a detailed agenda for how to run things was the books of Moses…We all know how that worked out. It was never followed. It produced the worst rebels on the planet. It led to endless rounds of argumentation about how to work it out.

    We quite wish that God had given us a personnel manual and a constitution with exact SOPs but he didn’t. He actually gave us himself.

    Even Michael’s assertion of an inerrant Bible leaves me cold and disinterested. I quite like the assertion of God inspired (breathed) that has life on it.

    In truth God left us in a mess that only he can help us with. May he help us.

  26. Planning a coup?

    No Obama isn’t planning a coup any more that George did. Conspiracy theories abound. Once in a while some people actually conspire… usually that works out badly for the conspirators. Thankfully they are much less competent than rumored.

  27. Xenia says:

    Bishop- Pastor-Deacon <—– That's what the Bible says.

  28. Michael says:

    BD,

    “Inerrant” has become a theological wax nose to be twisted into many different configurations…

  29. Nonnie says:

    Xenia….yes, you are correct.

  30. Inerrant leaves the claimants with far to much to prove. Best we leave that to the mathematicians and scientists.

  31. Michael says:

    BD,

    You may have a point…all those arguments distract from the text itself…

  32. Gary says:

    The only conspiracy I hold to is a demonic one. We wrestle not against flesh and blood…

  33. As for the Lone Ranger… it indeed sucked… sadly so. They had a great cast and loads of money to make a great one. But it was full of loose ends, convoluted lines of thought, weirdness and just plain base vulgarity… I mean did they leave out any bodily fluid excretion? (don’t answer that I am grossed out enough)

    And all of that in a movie where the Dread was an extra… don’t look for me, my mother wouldn’t even know me.

    Seems impossible to make a hero movie without proving that all heroes are wackos.

  34. Xenia says:

    The only church I attended where gossip was a serious problem was that Baptist church.

    Think about it: if you don’t like the pastor (maybe he is preaching against your pet vice), then how are you going to get rid of him? You have to cause the majority of your fellow church members to dislike him, too. How are you going to do that? By talking incessantly against him, criticizing every single move the pastor or his family makes. You watch him like a hawk and collect data on the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the TV shows they watch (or don’t watch), etc etc etc. You call your groupies together for, oh say, Monday night football and during a commercial break you start your spiel with “I don’t believe in gossip but for for the good of the church I think it is imperative that you all know…..”

    The next day, the wives start calling all their friends with the dirt.

    It is really an evil system.

  35. Xenia says:

    Actually, the rural Baptist church I grew up in was worse only I was too young to understand why everyone hated each other.

  36. the X-woman and I agree heartily

  37. Nonnie says:

    Xenia, that is so sad. At least in a “Moses Model” someone can just walk away and not feel any responsibility to try and change anything. IF we ever for get that we (and our leaders) are hopeless sinners, we will live our lives judging and condemning our leaders, never giving grace and living hopeless lives.

  38. Nonnie says:

    I forgot to sign out: “Living in a paradox Nonnie.”

  39. Steve Wright says:

    Like I said in the Weekend Word, I taught on the last several verses of Romans chapter one. A couple people asked me how long I thought I would be able to preach that.

    As long as I have breath.

    Just might be to a smaller and smaller audience 😉

  40. Gary says:

    At large churches gossip is held to a minimum cuz no one knows anyone. In small churches gossip is rampant cuz everyone knows everyone and they don’t love Jesus. Here’s the gossip at my rather large church…

    I’m praying for you.

    Is there anything I can do?

    You have a problem with so-and-so? Go talk to them about it.

    Did I mention I love my church?

  41. Nonnie says:

    Pastor Steve, I agree with you. However, in the preaching of the word, are pastors talking about people who worship nature, or are they mentioning heterosexual fornicators as much as homosexual sex, because as I read Romans 1, those issues are also talked about. It seems to me that rejecting God leads to men and women trying to find satisfaction and fulfilment in nature or sex, academics, or anything other than the living God.

  42. I guess some churches don’t need Jesus anymore. I wonder why the people in my church still sin? Frustrating!

  43. Gary says:

    Some groups kiss me, some groups dis me
    I think they’re O.K.
    If they don’t give the Word I like then
    I just walk away.

    They can preach and they can teach
    But they can’t see the light, that’s right
    ‘Cause the man with the Word I like
    Is always Mister Right,
    ’cause I am

    Living in a material church
    And I am a material girl
    You know that I am going to a material church
    And I am a material girl

    Some men pray in some cliché
    and That’s all right with me
    If they can’t raise my interest then I
    Have to let them be

    Some groups talk and gossips squawk but
    I don’t care at all
    Only those who get my version
    know how I play ball
    ’cause I am

    Living in a material church
    And I am a material girl
    You know that I am going to a material church
    And I am a material girl.

    Churches come and churches go
    And that’s all right you see
    Experience has made me rich
    And now they’re after me, ’cause everybody’s

    Living in a material church
    And I am a material girl
    You know that I am going to a material church
    And I am a material girl.

    A material, a material, a material, a material church

  44. filbertz says:

    any thought that one can become a mature christian by any measure apart from dynamic work of the Spirit is delusional.

    youth, indeed, is wasted on the young.

    happy birthday, Michael. (Free) lunch is awaiting you and Trey, for Goodness Gracious sakes. 😉

  45. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    1.For some, middle age never arrive and for others, life has just begun, but with the benefit of not doing the stupid things we did when we children and adolescents.

    2. The entire body of Christ should be involved serving one another, not just the Pastor and his corporate agendas. Church discipline is essential to protecting the flock while enabling the process of reconcilation to take place, if the offender is repentent and willing to bear the fruits of such repentance. Churches without church discipline are magnets for those who desire to practice ungodly behavior, including sexual immorality, domestic violence, and exploitations, be it in leadership and, or the congregation. Membership is good as it helps to make the affairs of the governing leadership more transparent while holding one another to an account.

    3. Not that is immediately known or seen. For as long as Satan is unbounded there will be those that will gravitate to the role of leaderships to fleece the flock while practicing abuse and corruption. This does not negate a Christian responsibility to remain silent on these things. We are to expose evil and not take part in it, whether by remaining silent or joining in.

    4. I believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture…but not in the infallibility of any interpreter. The problem is in us, not the book…

    5. I fully expect that if I live ten more years that I’ll be jailed or heavily fined for preaching from the text of Scripture…

    6. Would love to go see a movie, but funds are a bit scarce right now.

    7. I have learned to trust more upon God and be far more cautious towards others.

    8. The sad fact is that to learn to truly forgive and be truly merciful you must first be truly offended beyond your ability in the flesh to do either…

    To be able to truly forgive and be truly merciful one must truly love.

    9. Yes, it is in the times of trials and affliction that in order to push forward, it is necessary to let go of that which you cannot control. Forgiveness and mercy has little to do with reconciliation. They are independent of what the other person (s) response may be. But reconciliation has everything to do with the repentance of the person whom has done the injury. That is, unless you like being used and abused.

    9. Christian maturity is in evidence when your desired outcome in a dispute is reconciliation rather than victory…and the opposite is true as well.

  46. Michael says:

    fil,

    I miss you and your bride…we’ll get over there soon.

  47. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    Steve,

    Wow. Have you considered asking the person (s) who asked, “How long are you going to preach on that particular passage” what their concerns might be. Could be an opportunity to enable one to get some things off their chest and do some repenting. Just sayin.

  48. Nonnie says:

    Filbertz, if I ever get to Grants Pass, I will be visiting your cafe! It sound wonderful!! May God bless you and your beloved.

  49. Steve Wright says:

    Uriah, the two people who asked me were making side conversation with me, as we do most every week in between services. I know them and their political leanings well and so forth.

    However, to your point, there were some far more substantive, personal discussions with the body after the message as well.

  50. Steve Wright says:

    Pastor Steve, I agree with you. However, in the preaching of the word, are pastors talking about people who worship nature, or are they mentioning heterosexual fornicators as much as homosexual sex, because as I read Romans 1, those issues are also talked about. It seems to me that rejecting God leads to men and women trying to find satisfaction and fulfilment in nature or sex, academics, or anything other than the living God.
    ———————————————————–

    Nonnie, I do not say this lightly. But I think you would agree with just about every word of my message yesterday, and the one that went with it the week before.

    Go check out some of my comments in The Weekend Word article from last night.

    Last week’s message is online, but yesterday’s may take a few days to get up there.

  51. Nonnie says:

    Thank you, Pastor Steve. I will check them out!

  52. Steve Wright says:

    (Nonnie – here you go)

    As to The Weekend Word – I mentioned what I taught. As to what I learned – I believe those verses should be divided into two sections, not three. 24-27 and 28-32.

    Typically there is a threefold division based on the three repeats of “God giving them over…”

    However, if you combine two of those “God giving them over” into one section in 24-27, then you see that homosexuality, while still clearly a sexual sin, is used as an example NOT a highlight of some super-duper horrible sin.

    It is chosen to highlight what is against nature, which goes directly back to worshipping the creature and not the Creator – also something not natural.

    Verse 24 is general sexual sin language in Paul’s usage – like in 1 Cor chapter 6.

    That’s part of it – actually the outline of chapter one is totally fascinating to me – and I see it i a whole different light

  53. So I am the one who practices the worst form of religion?

    Well, that is awesome.

    Hey, when you let the sinners and commoners act as a functioning part of the Body of Christ, things get messy.

    If it were up to me, I’d say you are right. Hold ’em down. Lord over them.

    Luckily it’s not up to me, and those awful, gossipy, sinful people are members of a Royal Priesthood.

  54. Nonnie says:

    Re: 52: Thanks Pastor Steve I’ll be listening to your message!

  55. #53 LOL!

  56. First Person: Moses Model is the worst!
    Second Person: No, Congregationalism is the worst!
    Me: All these arguments for and against either, just show that man is still involved in it.

  57. #54 I will be checking them out too.

  58. Derek, is it possible for man NOT to be involved in it?

  59. No, just saying the root cause of fussing about either system is because of man not the system usually.

  60. Agreed

  61. Linnea says:

    Michael….#8 brought tears to my eyes.. you nailed it. And Happy Birthday, again, by the way! Your writing is cogent, sometimes caustic, and always relevant!

  62. Ricky Bobby says:

    “5. I fully expect that if I live ten more years that I’ll be jailed or heavily fined for preaching from the text of Scripture…”

    Two words: Westboro Baptist

    Michael, fortunately for you, the First Amendment and even the ACLU itself will protect free speech (as long as it doesn’t incite violence). Unless you are speaking against homosexuals in a Sharia context and teaching that they should be executed or slaughtered for being gay, then your rights to your moral opinion of homosexuality will be protected and upheld.

    There is absolutely no indication that Free Speech in that area is being infringed upon and Westboro Baptists over-the-line rhetoric, hyperbole and polemics is evidence of that fact.

  63. Linnea says:

    I wish I had time to read, digest and comment on threads….sigh

  64. Michael says:

    Linnea,

    Thank you, much my friend.

  65. Ricky Bobby says:

    “1. The hardest part about being middle aged is that you pretty much are what you are going to be when you grow up…”

    The trick is to never grow up 🙂

    —Ricky “Peter Pan” Bobby

    “2. With all the criticism of pastor led churches, I wonder why congregationalism isn’t making a resurgence…”

    I think b/c many folks are Sheep who want a Shepherd to tell them what to think, how to act and what to do.

    “3. The reason that blogging hasn’t changed the leadership of the church (even in abusive churches) is that your neighbors don’t care. Marking wolves may alleviate some anger, but it has little affect on the business that still has customers…”

    I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement, unfortunately.

    “4. I believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture…but not in the infallibility of any interpreter. The problem is in us, not the book…”

    I think Dread makes some good comments about this one. It’s a losing proposition to die on the hill of “inerrancy” when there are so many explicit errors in the texts that are self-evident. Making “inerrancy” a god only makes the apologizer for such look more and more intellectually dishonest and untrustworthy.

    “6. We went to see the “Lone Ranger” last week…I hated it. We need heros today… real and mythic. We don’t need to make morons out of the ones we already have…”

    Why? Why do we “need” heros? I don’t buy that assumption. I think we need regular folks to take responsibility for their era. We can all be heros in the mundane. I don’t like the Hero concept because I think it creates false idols built on lies, exaggerations, hype and facade. I’d rather have a real and honest person who acts heroically on occasion.

    “7. Over this last couple of weeks I’ve learned again the value of true friendship…and the brutal cost of friendship betrayed. Broken trust can take longer to heal than a broken body…choose to trust anyway.”

    Yes, very true. The closer the relationship (parent, spouse, good friend etc) the deeper the hurt.

    “8. The sad fact is that to learn to truly forgive and be truly merciful you must first be truly offended beyond your ability in the flesh to do either…”

    I think you might be right about that one.

    “9. Christian maturity is in evidence when your desired outcome in a dispute is reconciliation rather than victory…and the opposite is true as well.”

    Probably so.

    “10. I woke up to many kind birthday wishes this morning…thank you all for your gracious words and prayers.”

    Happy birthday old man! One year closer to death! 🙂

  66. Muff Potter says:

    RE: Gary at no. 23:
    The coup was a done deal in 1980. Financial oligarchs saw to it and they call the shots to this day. They only change front-men every 4-8 years.

  67. #26 BD, I agree to a certain extent with this. I would call it bumbling into tyranny though.

  68. Jim says:

    Happy Birthday Michael!

    I’ll be 55 this year, and due to injuries obtained in my 20’s, middle age pretty much sucks, but I’m not yet ready for the other option. Watching my adult kids thrive and playing with my grandkids is a joy I could not have imagined. In 20-25 years I’ll be griping about old age and joyfully playing with my great-grandkids.

    Life is good!

  69. pstrmike says:

    Happy birthday Michael!

    Enjoy life, bless people, glorify God………… and not necessarily in that order.

  70. PP Vet says:

    Being arrested for preaching the bible in London:

    http://tinyurl.com/mx92j4o

  71. Steve Wright says:

    What I think is likely to happen first is a homosexual married couple will sue a church for denying them the right to attend that church’s married couples retreat or Valentine’s dinner – and then a few senior citizens in robes will decide 5-4 if that is within the penumbras and emanations of the Constitution

  72. newbie says:

    At least in a “Moses Model” someone can just walk away and not feel any responsibility to try and change anything.-Nonnie

    That is exactly the problem of the Moses Model. No on needs to submit to anything other then their own so -called convictions, which can easily be skewed by our humanness. We just came out of a Moses Model church that we’d served for almost 20 years. It was a revolving door. Nothing changed. No one was trained properly because the pastor can’t possibly do everything. So ministries would pop up, last a couple of years, then disappear because that is as far that it could go given the lack of training. I saw families come and families go as they felt like it. Now we are at a congregational- style church although I believe the elders make most of the decisions except financial. It’s hard because I’m so used to doing my own thing, the way I want to. I’ve had withdrawals but I am learning to re-submit myself. Growing pains hurt but I feel as though I’ve been so activity- addicted that I didn’t have time to think about God much. Being forced to sit and learn before throwing me out to serve has been refreshing. Maybe it’s just a phase but I kind of like being shepherded and taught and led. I feel as though the Moses- model leaves way to many holes in the fence.,

  73. Bob says:

    Why is it BD’s #3 post comes across as one of the most arrogant rants I have read here?

    Does having others who can say NO to you make you mad? Is this one of the underlying reasons, like CS, you went off and started your own work?

    Of course a good Southern Baptist Pastor I know said once to me, “We have a church planting program here in the SBC, it’s called the Church Split.”

    Even Moses had to come to his whits ends before God revealed to him the need for a structure of elders to judge the people.

  74. Bob,

    Who knows? Possibly you are a good judge of character. Possibly I am an arrogant pig. As for getting mad when someone tells me no… well, yes it is likely that I am as petulant as arrogant. As for the underlying reasons for starting my own work. Who knows what makes a fellow “start your own work” no doubt greed is in the weeds there somewhere.

    It was a terse and edgy rant… and it felt quite satisfying to release it. Too much caffeine for sure… and probably all kinds of psychosis.

    Either way the Baptists are glad to have me gone and I am not homesick. Unlike Moses I do not have to deal with millions of bellyaching Hebrews so there’s that too. My tribe is hardly noticed in the scheme of things and really shouldn’t bother anyone.

  75. Wright’s #71 is spot on.

  76. I find the underlying reason for “top down” – Moses Model – call it what you will style of management in the churches is that the pastor does not think that the Holy Spirit talks to the unwashed masses in the way he speaks to the pastor. Even though he may preach “listen for his voice” he doesn’t really mean it – it’s more like “listen to my voice and I will tell you what the HS is saying to you.”

    Even though having a voice and having a vote may get messy, I still think it comes from the HS. I think it is just insecurity on their part.

  77. Bob says:

    BD

    Thanks. Very gracious response.

    I’ve pastored over the years and have known more than one pastor who restructured the by- laws so a church couldn’t fire them. Security and frustration are common threats to us all.

    My biggest frustration with churches is how they are basically the religious store where people come in and buy their weekly fix. What makes me most sad is how pastors, for the love of something, are more than willing to serve it up.

    “One blue plate special coming up!”

  78. Though I do believe that congregationalism is the best form of church government, there have been some valid points brought up in this thread against it.

    I think the answer to those objections is better catechism for the membership. If you are just trying to fill seats and inflate your baptism totals, you are going to have a lot of carnal minds voting on the issues. If those people have to go through some discipleship process before getting voting privileges, perhaps they would be better suited for the task at hand.

  79. Andrew says:

    ” At least in a “Moses Model” someone can just walk away and not feel any responsibility to try and change anything”

    You can walk away from any church so nothing unique about Moses Model here. The problem with Moses Model is that many may think they can change things for the better but this is because they don’t really understand how despotic the Moses Model really is until its too late.

  80. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, The funny thing is – your post @76 is about 180 degrees opposite.

    The idea (in Moses’ time) is that God’s Spirit is upon others and they can do much of the work of the ministry and the larger issues will come to the top leadership. Delegation.

    Chuck himself has said many times that he thinks the Spirit tells him who to hire or place in a ministry, and then he trusts the Spirit will guide that person in that role.

    I know people here don’t believe it – but when I served in different ways in Costa Mesa (not on staff) the independence was wonderful. Chuck’s style helped me grow and helped me become the person I am today in serving the Lord. You ought to see the independence at our church – talk to those who serve here and ask them if Steve trusts the “unwashed masses” – and it isn’t because Steve is not really a true CC guy as some say – it is because I am doing exactly what I saw modeled in my early formative years of ministry by Chuck and the other leaders in Costa Mesa.

    I’ve seen quite the opposite at other churches. Nobody can move without the pastor’s blessing. Maybe that is true for some of you at your past CCs – but it is not the idea practiced or taught by Chuck.

  81. Shaun Sells says:

    Not sure if this has been said, but I don’t think form of government is the problem, I think not yielding to the Spirit is the problem.

    I got in a little hot water at my old Baptist church during a business meeting that had a 50/50 vote. I said “either half of us are not yielded to the Spirit or all of us are not yielded to the Spirit, either way we failed tonight.”

    If the leadership (whether it be a elders, senior pastor, or congregation) is not allowing the Spirit of the Living God to speak into their life and circumstances then that will lead to failure.

    Period.

    End of story.

    The more leaders the more likely there are those present who are not yielded to the Spirit. The less leaders the more likely an unyielded leader will go too far.

  82. PP Vet says:

    Any personality-dominated church has its limits.

  83. Steve Wright says:

    Shaun nails it @81 (I would have loved to have been at that 50/50 meeting)

    I tell married couples, if you both are focused on the Lord and His will, both want to be the best CHRISTIAN you can be – then you will have unity in your marriage, by default, if a Spirit-filled Christian, you will be a good husband/wife to your spouse.

    I heard an illustration once. Nobody tries to tune multiple instruments to each other – they tune them to a standard, and by default they will be in tune then with each other.

  84. Steve,
    Yet there is never a meeting to allow the “unwashed masses” to have corporate input.

    Even Babs says that he is the final word on who serves on his board and then goes on to say “We have no committees, no business meetings, no votes.” (and people wonder how a pastor can unilaterally change the by laws of the church.)

    I think his view is typical.

    I just always wish – it’s more of a hallucination that one of these church leaders would hold a meeting an say “hey, I’ve been thinking – how would you folks like to have a say about what happens around here? Let’s vote – keep it the same or let’s make a change?”

  85. “The more leaders the more likely there are those present who are not yielded to the Spirit. The less leaders the more likely an unyielded leader will go too far.”

    Yep, I think that is the dilemma. Well said.

  86. Steve Wright says:

    Yet there is never a meeting to allow the “unwashed masses” to have corporate input.
    ———————————————-
    Sure there is at all sorts of levels. Different ministries meet, the Board meets, and prays – always to try to find the mind of Christ going forward.

    As to your wish/hallucination – isn’t that fulfilled as we often say by the choice of the Christian who attends?

  87. Steve Wright says:

    Whatever doctrinal differences you may have with Dread, MLD – do you have the slightest thought that he is an abusive dictator or do you think that his church is filled with people who are loved and giving love in return.

    I imagine the latter.

    Again, the government model is not the issue – it is the people and their yielding to the Lord.

  88. In fairness, Steve, Dread started out by calling us the worst religion on the planet.

  89. I have no reason to think Babs is abusive. But boy did the Russian people love their PaPa Joe. 🙂

    You missed my point above when I said “to allow the “unwashed masses” to have corporate input.” Corporate was the key word. As long as you keep them separated in small and varied groups they cannot unite … even on good ideas.

    At least at my church if we wanted to, we could vote for a dictator type government. 😉

    But I do agree with you that it is the character of the person that counts.

  90. Steve Wright says:

    The surreal thing to me in this discussion is I was a member and served at a Baptist church for a couple years and that pastor fit all the spiritual dictator traits far more than anything I ever experienced at Costa Mesa

    Of course, it was by no means congregational – unless they had their meeting in secret without telling me – which is always a possibility 😉

  91. Steve Wright says:

    At least at my church if we wanted to, we could vote for a dictator type government.
    —————————————————
    Really? I know you would have to dramatically change your by-laws to do so, right?

    Would you be able to stay Missouri Synod Lutheran if you made such a change?

  92. Steve Wright says:

    Put another way…could a so-called “dictator” type government apply and receive acceptance to be a Missouri Synod Lutheran church? Honest question.

    Got to run..will check later..

  93. Kevin H says:

    And one more time for emphasis – “The more leaders the more likely there are those present who are not yielded to the Spirit. The less leaders the more likely an unyielded leader will go too far.”

    As far as church government goes, I think the key is avoiding the extremes of both of these ends. In a pastor led church, it is wise to have robust built-in checks of accountability. That way it would lessen the opportunities and temptations for the pastor to abuse the power he has. In a congregational ruled church, it is wise to have some kind of built-in checks to try to make sure (to the best that can reasonably be done) that those who have voting input are truly Christians who have an active faith. And also to have some kind of built-in controls as to what is “open” for debate and vote so that it’s not a free-for-all.

    My previous church was congregational ruled and it seemingly functioned pretty well. The diviseness and petty arguing really seemed to be kept to a minimum. Regular business meetings were held twice a year and the type of items which would come up for vote would be things like election of elders & deacons, approval of church budget, or constitutional changes. Voting on the hiring of pastors would also be done at a time when there was a need for a vote. There usually would be discussion/debate on some of these items and also other significant issues as they came up. But during my time there, I can’t recall discussion/debate on anything remotely close to the color of carpets or why $200 was designated for this budget line item but only $100 for this other budget line item. I don’t know if it was by rule that the constitution allowed voting on only certain items or issues, or if it was just by practice that things were kept under general control. But one way or the other, things did function rather well in this expereience of congregational rule.

  94. Gary says:

    MLD#76,
    Excellent point. That is why I reject the orthodox churches. They say we’ll do your thinking for you in that we’ll interpret what the church fathers say. Heed the creeds. That’s not too different than the Moses model. You have the edge in regard to the sifting of wisdom through the years but the result is exactly the same. I reject all the homilies, the vestures, the rich traditions, the altars, the stained glass gild, the statues, the prayers, the over-structure. all of it. I’m skipping all the byways and taking the plane home. There are less dead bodies along the way.

    Just wait till I have my coffee.

  95. Gary says:

    It looks like we’re saying all forms of church govt. are bad.

  96. Xenia says:

    Even the best (that is, the most biblical) form of church government can be thwarted by self-serving people. The formation of a good ol’ boys club is hard to prevent. However, I think some forms of church government bring out the worst in people.

  97. Xenia says:

    The Moses model can bring out the worst in a pastor.
    The Congregational model can bring out the worst in a congregation.

    I am quite happy with the Orthodox Church’s form of government, which is ancient and biblical. There have been some ecclesiastical catastrophes over the centuries, that is to be expected. Even some angels in heaven revolted against God’s perfect system.

  98. Gary says:

    Xenia,
    I agree that the orthodox form of church govt. is better than either the Moses model and the congregational model. Churches should be governed locally by a pastor who is responsible to elders.

    Back in the 1980’s, when I had been away from CCCM for over ten years, before I had a hint of what the Moses model was or all the evil it would unleash, I believed that given enough time CC would be as corrupt as RCC. I had no idea it would happen so quickly.

  99. Gary says:

    Xenia,
    If CC had (or will have done) the things the RCC has done, nobody would go near it ever again. The difference being that there would be somewhere else to go.

    There was only one angel who rebelled. His army had to follow him. They had no such choice.

  100. Gary says:

    When I say orthodox I mean that in the orthodox sense of the word- the older churches.

    Man, this coffee is good!

  101. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Not sure if this has been said, but I don’t think form of government is the problem, I think not yielding to the Spirit is the problem.”

    Wrong. Your Camp (the Camp who views the form of government as non-important and a non-factor) doesn’t take into account the fact that power tends to corrupt and man is tempted by power, it’s our nature.

    The choice of Government structure will present a different set of temptations. The Moses Model’s set of temptations is different than the set of temptations presented by a Congregational construct with shared power.

    This is fact above. Non-disputable (but some will still try).

  102. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    Galatians 5:9
    A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

    If the body is cut off from the head then what?

    If the those in congregation do not have an active voice and vote, then how can the “leadership” possibly know what the needs of the particular flock are in order to make decisions that involves the entire body. CC Corporate rules-bylaws do not take in consideration anything other than what serves the interest of the leadership. Therefore, the church cannot possibly include those who attend. Yes, people can vote with their feet, but is that the answer. It is when a person does not get the sense that they are a part of the entire body and it is when the “leadership” is using the things of God to justify a self-serving underlying agenda. This is nothing more than making control, power, and profit the primary objective. It has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. It does have to do with being that which one was not called to be—a Pastor.

    Totally agree with Gary and MLD

  103. Lutheran says:

    That is why I reject the orthodox churches. They say we’ll do your thinking for you in that we’ll interpret what the church fathers say. Heed the creeds. That’s not too different than the Moses model. You have the edge in regard to the sifting of wisdom through the years but the result is exactly the same. I reject all the homilies, the vestures, the rich traditions, the altars, the stained glass gild, the statues, the prayers, the over-structure. all of it. I’m skipping all th in I’m skipping all the byways and taking the plane home. There are less dead bodies along the way.

    Gary,

    Since you didn’t put a smiley face after this comment, I’m going to assume you’re serious about your opinion.

    Have you ever set foot inside a “traditional” older church? If you haven’t, you should. Go visit an LCMS or Orthodox church. Then maybe your opinion will count for a little something.

    Everything you said in that graf is so opposite the reality for millions of folks. I’ve been through CC and the traditional churches. They’re nowhere near the same — except maybe between your ears.

    Really, Gary, if you’re just here to bloviate, then go for it. If you want to be taken seriously, then quit spouting stupid, uninformed crap.

  104. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    Lutheran,

    It appears to me that Gary’s position pushed a button with you. I understand that these homilies, the vestures, the rich traditions, the altars, the stained glass gild, the statues, the prayers, the over-structure may have great significance for you — I can respect that, however, to say he is spouting stupid, uninformed crap comes more from a place of defensiveness than understanding.

    I was RCC at one time—for a long time. And when meeting Jesus, I now take the same position as Gary. This doesn’t mean that I don’t respect your position–it just means I don’t agree with it.

  105. Hi Shaun,
    You posted a central key statement then elaborated with a scenario with no tangible illustration or outcome that I could comprehend… “Not sure if this has been said, but I don’t think form of government is the problem, I think not yielding to the Spirit is the problem. ”

    I’m sincerely curious, what does “yielding to the Spirit” look like, sound like, act like?
    Who does the yielding?

    What happens when there is a true 50/50 split and reasonable men and women want more dialog, more research, more information, more time?

    Thanks, I’ll check back later to read what you have to say.

  106. Gary says:

    Lutheran,
    I’m serious as a heart attack.

    One problem with relationships on a blog is that we don’t see anything of each other, other than words. We never meet. we don’t get to know each other. If we did then you would probably remember that I’ve posted many times about my RCC upbringing. I was steeped in it. I know what I’m talking about. That’s why I’m as serious as a heart attack in my rejection of that stuff.

    The fact that millions of people swallow RCC Kool aid doesn’t mean diddly. 😉

  107. Ricky Bobby says:

    A good metaphor and living example to look at when discussing “Church Government” is to look at man’s Societal/Political Governments throughout history.

    Kingship-type Governments where one key figure (or Moses Model) King or Emperor holds the power.

    Theocratic Government where a particular Religious leader and Religious Group holds the power.

    Dictatorships where one key figure holds the power.

    Democratic Republic where Power is shared intentionally, where Checks and Balances are put in place to protect against one person or Group having too much power.

    Shaun, which “Government” would you prefer to live under?

  108. Gary says:

    Democracy is the worst kind of government except all the others. Someone famous said that. If you transpose that to the church I suppose that the early church had the worst form of government except all the others.

  109. Ricky Bobby says:

    Ya, Gary, I hear you. The one thing on which I agree with the opposing Camp that argues the Moses Model is a non-issue: No form of Church Church Govt. is perfect and will stop all abuses.

    Similarly, a Democratic Republic isn’t perfect and won’t stop all the abuses.

    It sure as hell doesn’t mean I want to pick a worse Government model like a Dictatorship with all the inherent risks. The Checks & Balances Systems/Constructs tend to produce less-evil results in history vs. the Moses Model Singular Power constructs.

  110. Lutheran says:

    Well, I’m done.

    I’ve been on this blog for years. I’ve seen very, very, very little change in anyone’s opinions. Everybody feels free to spout the same mindless (usually) tripe. It just seems like everyone’s trying to alpha male (and I’m including females) everyone else. What a waste of time and energy.

    I thought this blog was supposed to be about being open to other opinions about churches, polity, etc. Instead, it’s become the rule of the mob. The more times you post your opinion, the more right that makes you, I guess.

    Welcome to the Internet where opinions rule. Facts, well, they’re pretty expendable.

  111. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    Curious, in light of RB comment on the forms of government, which would be the healthiest for a marital relationship? Which would greatly reduce the likelihood of child abuse and domestic violence within the church’s body, including its leadership.

  112. Lute,
    “I thought this blog was supposed to be about being open to other opinions about churches, polity, etc.”

    I see no missing the mark where Michael is concerned, in fact he remains tolerant of anarchists like me.

    Methinks your frustration is best mitigated with, oh hell, a shot of Kahlua perhaps? 😉

    Love ya!

  113. Michael says:

    To the best of my ability to understand, the biblical model of church governance is an elder led church overseen by a bishopric as the churches multiply.

    This, however, is America.
    America’s greatest folk hero is the entrepreneur and whether in business or the church the entrepreneur doesn’t like to take orders from anyone.
    Church planters are entrepreneurs…they go somewhere and take the risk of success or failure on to themselves.
    If they’re successful, they believe it was their ingenuity in their field that created the success.

    We love success…and we measure all things, even spiritual things, by that standard.

    You can rant about leadership all day long, but until the ones being led want change it won’t happen.

  114. Michael says:

    Lutheran,

    There will always be differing strong opinions.
    I don’t care if I change anyones mind as much as I care if people are given an opportunity to consider other viewpoints.
    The readers far outnumber the commenters…

  115. Ricky Bobby says:

    Lute, I feel the same way sometimes. We all still love you and many of us understand that frustration and your comment has a lot of truth to it. It’s how we humans tick and the internet and blogs is just a reflection of our humanity.

  116. Ricky Bobby says:

    I like G’s Kahlua prescription. If I wasn’t working one of the shops today, I might take that prescription myself 🙂

  117. Ricky Bobby says:

    Michael, I like your Entrepreneur metaphor. Very appropriate since much of the American Church and Church Movements resemble a Corporation and/or Family Business.

  118. Xenia says:

    Lutheran, I am not really here to have my opinions changed. I am not open-minded.

    However, I do enjoy discussing all the stuff we talk about here on the PhxP. I don’t have to agree with people in order to enjoy the conversation.

  119. I am still trying to figure out why Gary and Uriah are against preaching and praying in church.

    One of you want to explain?

  120. Gary says:

    Not taking your bait, MLD. You know different.

  121. Gary said @ #94 ” I reject all the homilies, … the prayers,

  122. Shaun Sells says:

    ( |o )====::: @ 105:

    “I’m sincerely curious, what does “yielding to the Spirit” look like, sound like, act like?
    Who does the yielding?”
    – To be yielded to the Spirit (IMO) is to allow the Spirit of God to guide your actions.
    – In my mind and life it looks like Ephesians 4:1-3 (quoted below). Really, you could go with Ephesians 4-6, walking in unity (4:1-6), maturity (4:7-16), not as unbelievers (4:17-32), walking in love (5:1-5), as children of light (5:6-14), wisely (5:15-20), in subjection to one another (5:21-6:9), in the full armor of God (6:10-17), and in prayer (18-20).
    – The individual believer is the one who yields to the Spirit. We as believer are to be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14), helped by the Spirit (Romans 8:26), strengthened by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16), and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). We yield when our desires are at odds with what the Spirit tells us to do, so we surrender our course of action and follow the Spirit.

    “What happens when there is a true 50/50 split and reasonable men and women want more dialog, more research, more information, more time?”
    – Spirit led, reasonable men and women will all agree to take more time to dialog, research, and pray. But, that is not what I witnessed that night in that meeting; I heard name calling, anger, and division. No humbly, no gentleness, no patience, no tolerance, no love, no unity, no peace…

    Ephesians 4:1-6
    “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

  123. Shaun Sells says:

    Ricky Bobby @107:

    “Shaun, which “Government” would you prefer to live under?”
    – The answer is still the same – any form of government that is lead by people yielded to the Holy Spirit of God will do. In the absence of the that type of leadership I expect to be disappointed in my government.

  124. Ricky Bobby says:

    “The answer is still the same – any form of government that is lead by people yielded to the Holy Spirit of God will do. In the absence of the that type of leadership I expect to be disappointed in my government.”

    You will always be disappointed in the Leadership who will not be “spiritual” and good much of the time, which is why you need a form of Government that has Checks & Balances in place to curb temptation to get away with bad stuff due to resting too much power in one individual man.

    Your “yielded to the Holy Spirit of God” leader is as mythological as the Unicorn, unless Jesus himself is the Moses/King/Dictator.

  125. Steve Wright says:

    MLD – Did you see my question @92 and @91?

  126. Steve, I think I was walking out of the house when those questions came in. I don’t know that the LCMS has a stand on church governance.The congregationalism may just be cultural due to the western American influence.

    When the Lutherans came to America they were bishop led (the ELCA and others still have bishops). There are several African Lutheran church denominations joining / algning with the LCMS (the Church in Kenya as one – 7 million members) who are not congregational.

  127. Josh the Baptist is no doubt the finest example of the worst religion on earth… (where is that wink keystroke?)

  128. Ricky Bobby says:

    “The more leaders the more likely there are those present who are not yielded to the Spirit. The less leaders the more likely an unyielded leader will go too far.”

    This just doesn’t make sense to me.

    There is no such correlation.

    This “Yielded” stuff sounds like Chuck Smith’s “Under the spout where the glory comes out” “Abiding” stuff.

    It’s not a constant. Good so-called “yielded” men sin. Good men are tempted to sin. Bad men can do good sometimes.

    In fact, I dare to say that there is no such thing as “Good men” as men are a mix of good and bad, though some are generally more good than bad.

    Conversely, most “bad” men are capable of good and do good at times, though some are generally more bad and some are downright evil.

  129. Shaun Sells says:

    Ricky Bobby –

    I agree that checks and balances can and should exist in all forms of government wether secular or religious. But, I still contend that leaders that yield to the Spirit most of the time are better than those that don’t any of the time.

  130. Gary says:

    Ricky Bobby,
    I’m happy to report that I really like the leadership at my church. They are good examples of what Jesus taught. Lead by example. They are relatively yielded to the Spirit and we have a good system of checks and balances.

  131. MLD

    Agreeing to go along with Gary’s lead — not taking the bait.

    Shaun Sells

    On “yielding to the Holy Spirit. Sounds biblical to me. I would add that when leaven is permitted to be unaddressed, then the Holy Spirit is quenched and what is spiritual is used as a cloak to dominate and to further add to the apostasy of a church. So being nice and being in unity at any cost to just go along to get along can cost dearly.

    It’s easy to say that the church is yielding when the Pastor is gettin their way—it’s even easier to do when the larger part of the body has no voice or vote. It becomes a case of the body learning to reflect the Pastor’s will or vision or want or need, rather that the heart of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s called Narcissism. Which then makes it easy for the “body” of congregates to be scapegoated upon and to distract to avoid making changes that truly honors and protects the bride of Christ, thus making for more dynamic and living vessel for the Holy Spirit to have His way.

  132. Thanks Shaun, those are demonstrable and experiential effects, framed within a biblical reference. Much appreciated!

    So sorry that the group was less than stellar. Sounds like a respect based outlook would have been needed, along with realizing that process can change but relationship is always at the heart of a healthy organization, especially one that professes knowing Jesus.

  133. Bd @ 127 – I can live with that 🙂

  134. Ricky Bobby says:

    I “think” many folks are intellectually lazy and shun the heavy lifting of really understand what it is they are expressing as their belief system without understanding the often-contradicting beliefs they express and the philosophical implications of such.

    Lazy, sloppy, fallible, errant thinking when scrutinized.

  135. Ricky Bobby says:

    I think the default position is to name-call to dismiss and to appeal to nebulous vague apology that doesn’t answer the question but points to a particular guru or other apologetic rather than dealing with the obvious.

    Atheists do similar when they don’t have a good answer, pretty much every Group with a dogmatically held belief system and tradition does so as well. Very few are willing (and able) to do the heavy lifting and the painful process of critically thinking there way through tough issues like religion/philosophy.

    I don’t have all the answers, i’m don’t know for sure if I’m “right” but i do know when others contradict themselves while professing they don’t and while appealing to something they claim is inerrant and infallible and perfect etc.

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