On Meddling & Professional Ministry

After some years away from the IFB movement, I began to see that a common sin in nearly every sect of clergy is “Lording” (1 Peter 5), whereby they act as divine mediators between God and mankind. No one starts out by saying, “Today, I am going to play God with people’s lives.” So, I tried to understand why a leader would get sucked into Lording. The most obvious answer is their subtle desire for position, power & empty glory. Another reason is their practical distrust of God’s ability to direct or correct someone Himself. 

Then, it occurred to me. There is something more elementally wrong and more widespread than the above reasons. It has to do with making a career out of “professional ministry.” These people are paid to sit around all day and basically try to think up ways of both adding attendees and turning them into their brand of “Churchianity.” They must do this, because they view ministry as only what happens inside the church building or church-sanctioned activity. It is true that believers edify one another as they gather together. Yet, leaders often do not see that their only role is to equip the believers for the true, everyday ministry which happens out in the world… and to which God has called every believer in his/her place (1 Corinthians 7:17ff).

Instead of knowing / holding down “real world” jobs themselves, they hole up in the 4 walls of a church building or other Christian institution, where their analytical minds inevitably turn critical and obsessed over minutia… which only leads to meddling in others’ affairs. They think they are serving God, but what they are really doing is meddling.

Meddle: to interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one’s concern.

Jesus and all of His Apostles had either trades or professions that they did not see as “in conflict” with accomplishing the Great Comission. The difference between the Apostles and modern-day clergy is the Apostles could have expected pay but they did not for the Gospel’s sake (1 Corinthians 9; Philippians 4). Even the Bible itself warns against meddling and states that suffering comes from it. What is more damning, the Bible states that idle people are often the ones who meddle most… and that, meddling is a sin listed right alongside murder.

Once I learned these truths, I decided I would never make a career out of “ministry.” Even though I studied the Bible and ministry for 8+ years, it would be something I would do voluntarily—willingly but “not for filthy lucre.” And I vowed that I would hold a “real world” job. To this day, I do not receive any pay for pastoring; and I—as a result—have more compassion and empathy for others. [I do receive random gifts or “buy outs” for my time] 

I see no need to make others into a sectarian poster child or just like me or like anyone else for that matter. I trust God is able to direct and correct their lives. They are His disciples, not mine. If I do anything, it is to serve others in their struggles… to point them to a direct relationship with God Himself, teach them how to correctly interpret the Word for themselves, to supply what is needful for faith, hope and love; to ease their burdens, lift up the downhearted, to see the “stuck” and overwhelmed get freed up and try to be a healing ointment for their wounds.

On Shunning

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” –Jesus (Matthew 18:12)

The IFB churches, in which I grew up and then left, commonly teach that believers should shun another person who calls himself/herself a believer, but who has been involved in sin and is not repentant. The operative and key words should be “not repentant.” If someone has expressed sorrow and change of mind/heart about the sin, taking steps to be rid of it… [not man-made prescriptions] then they are to be received! (2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 8:7-16). And they are to be received as God sees them, fully righteous, fully restored, walking in their new creature identity (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).

For sure, “church discipline” is taught in the Bible, but shunning is not.

IFBers often quote the following:

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

And,

I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:13).

Again, it is clear that church discipline is taught by the Apostle Paul; and Jesus Himself gave prescriptions on how to deal with offenses within the body (Matthew 18). But, in their zealousness to rid the body of “leaven,” they miss Jesus’ statement to “treat them as a pagan and a tax collector,” and IFBers appear never to consider how Jesus Himself treated pagans and tax collectors. They also either skip over or ignore 2 Thessalonians 3:15, which commands believers should NOT treat a disobedient brother as an enemy! James 5:20 further states we should invest enough love and time and wisdom into a brother’s / sister’s life, so as to be able to turn him or persuade him back to Jesus, and so, “cover a multitude of sins.” We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort, BUT “with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). These things can hardly be done in one “church discipline” visit by a pastor and 2 deacons, where fear and intimidation are the motivations. Jude (v. 22) commands we should differentiate the hardened from the doubting by showing them mercy & compassion; but even the hardened should have mercy mixed with fear (vv. 22-24).

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

What is more, IFB’ers insist on man-made restrictions to “make sure the offender has really repented ‘after a godly sorrow.'” These restrictions and life demands are not mankind’s place to determine; and IFB’ers are so behavior focused, they often neglect true restoration… which requires meekly identifying with & bearing the burden of the one who stumbled (Galatians 6).

True restoration is done in order to rebuild the breakdowns of one’s holy identity, faith, hope and love which precipitated the sin; and true restoration realizes a sin problem in a believer is always directly proportionate to their godly identity having been attacked, their godly trusts having been broken, their godly hopes having been dashed or their godly love having been betrayed. It requires sympathetically looking at the trials and hardships that led to said breakdown. Instead, IFB’ers tend to kick those who are down, or treat them shamefully, as if they carry something rabid and catchy. This shaming and shunning can never restore, and it reveals restoration is really not the aim of IFB’ers.

They gain this misdirection & misunderstanding about shunning from misinterpreting passages (out of context and meaning). Here are some Bible studies, which show the biblically accurate alternative to unbiblical shunning. Not associating with an unrepentant person means not to worship with them. Not to eat with an unrepentant person means not to take communion with them. One gains this from the context of 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul describes the difference between what goes on within the body vs. what goes on outside it (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). But, not to share an actual family or friendly meal and/or not to socialize with said persons is a gross misinterpretation of the Bible, and it only feeds unbiblical shunning.

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality & Mortality

Treat Them as a Pagan and a Tax Collector

The Kingdom of Heaven and it’s Keys

Binding and Loosing 

Abuse & Authority

Reproving & Rebuking: The Neglected Duty of the Pastors

Reproving & Rebuking are the disowned aspects of the Pastor’s role within the Body of Christ. This comes as a result of hierarchical denominationalism lording over men of God, the rule of feel-good and trendy Christianity, the domination of fleshly and Bible-illiterate church-goers within the congregation, preachers for hire (instead of letting the gift lead), and a sign of the times that:

…people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:4)

But, the charge God gives to pastors to reprove and rebuke could not be clearer.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

 

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)

 

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

 

He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)

While these passages are not a license for tyrannical and authoritarian abuse by pastors, they also should not be denied. As the LORD God stated to those who have gone before, let us hear Him saying also to us,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:18)

…to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. This is the LORD’s declaration. (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

Rise up, O men of God, and do your duty!

4 Steps to Entering the New and Living Way

[click HERE for MP3 download of sermon]

 4 STEPS TO ENTERING THE NEW AND LIVING WAY — Hebrews 10

THE BELIEVER’S FOUNDATIONS 

1. Jesus is far better than your ability to keep God’s expectations. vv.1-10

2. Jesus died and rose again once for all for your sins. vv.10-13

3. Jesus’ self-sacrifice has perfected you in God’s eyes. vv. 14-18

THEREFORE

1. Draw Near to God in full assurance that you are accepted in Christ, and that, Christ is more than enough to make you that way. v22

2. Hold fast your confession of Christ without wavering–i.e. No matter what! v23

3. Consider (give time and thought) how to stimulate each other to love and good deeds. v24

4. Meet together in order to encourage one another as The Day draws nearer (persecution increasing). v.25

12 Clearly Stated Facts on Biblical Church Leadership

  1. It is God’s church, the Head of which is Jesus Christ. Jesus said HE will build His church. (Matthew 16:13-20; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18)
  2. The church does not have to have a building or bank accounts (or a “corporate board”) to function. (Acts 2:42-47)
  3. Jesus said leaders in His church must be servants (Matthew 20:25-28, 23:11; Mark 9:35, 10:44; John 13:14)
  4. Christ has provided spiritual gifts for church leadership, to keep the church unified, protected and maturing (Eph. 4:1-16). They equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church. These gifts are:
    1. Apostles — missionaries who start new churches in various places that need it.
    2. Prophets — those who warn (in alignment with Scripture) about the way things should be or of things to come.
    3. Evangelists — those who welcome people to Christ, “gospelers.”
    4. Pastors/Teachers — those who nurture and protect the body against false teachings, restore the failing, and lead the body to maturity (attitudes, words and works of Jesus).
  5. Notice that all of the above gifts (#4) have to do with ministry of the Word and prayer; and these must give an account to God for those under their ministry (Hebrews 13:17). So, they should be heeded, if what they say is pure and genuine teaching from the Bible. The Bible is the authority, not the men.
  6. Future church leaders are ALWAYS recognized and blessed by and commissioned by older and gifted church leaders, the whole body recognizing that they are gifted and full of the Spirit (Acts 6; Acts 13; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). This group of older and gifted church leadership may not be all from one church, but they can send gifted, new workers out with fasting, prayer and laying on hands. This event is often called the “laying on of hands by the presbytery” (Acts 6, 13; 1 Tim. 4:14).
  7. Deacons, (just as Elders) were established by certain qualifications but for certain different duties (Acts 6). They have those qualifications repeated in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Deacons take care of all practical things that the spiritual gifts in #4 do not perform. The deacons help the gifted leaders. Fellow elders provide accountability for the pastor(s). The deacons do not command or supervise them or determine the “employment” of a pastor(s). In turn, the gifted leaders serve in all humility but also work to correctly teach the Word, not being ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15) if it goes against the grain of people’s thoughts and desires (2 Tim. 4:2-3). But, they do this with patience and teaching, not with harshness. While women may be deaconesses, prophetesses, missionaries, teachers and evangelists, they may not be the leading pastor of the whole church.
  8. The official roles of Elder/Pastor (a.k.a. “overseer”) and Deacon account for (include) ALL of the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, [#4 and #7]. If someone is a an elder or deacon, then their spiritual gift will be described in Ephesians 4. Again, women may not be elders/pastors of the local church, but they may have a leadership gift that God means to use for influence within the body and/or in the world. Examples include Stephen (deacon) and Phillip the Evangelist (Acts 6-8), Aquilla and Priscilla (Acts 18), Phoebe (Romans 16), Daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).
  9. The elders/pastors (a.k.a. “overseers,” gifted leaders) are always more than one in every church locale or mission (Acts 20; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:15), or are being established as such. This plurality provides accountability, so that no one man takes preeminence.
  10. Just because someone has a gift does not mean he/she is using it or that God is using them. (2 timothy 1:6, 2:21)
  11. 1 Corinthians 12-13 teaches that all believers can and should desire more than one gift, but that, not all can be the same. Above all, godly love is the best way in every gift.
  12. There are those who present themselves as leaders, but they do not follow God’s design or attitude for leaders, nor His Word. They are not true leaders. These are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Those who are false leaders/teachers cause divisions and followings, are covetous or greedy and/or love the place of leadership by putting others down/under (“Lording it over the flock”). These sort of people receive strong condemnation from God, even sickness or death. (Matthew 7:15; Acts 5:1-11; 8:20-23; 1 Corinthians 3:17, 11:29; 1 Tim. 1:19-20, 4-5:1; 2 Tim. 2:19-24, 3:8-9, 4:14; Romans 16:17-18; 3 John 1:9-10; James 4-5, 1 Peter 5).

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OTHER RESOURCES:

The 7 Characteristics of Servant Leadership