Pastors want their churches to be full of healthy and vibrant Christians. How to accomplish this goal is a seemingly insurmountable struggle.
Here are 4 major hurdles of building relationally organic church community and how to clear them.
1. HIERARCHY: While a pastor is a gifting and a calling, which comprise a role of “equipper” within the Body, an administrative hierarchy of pastors, as in lead/senior (acting CEO) pastor and underling pastors (pastoral staff) is organizational hierarchy. Yes, the younger should be submitted to the elder, but also, all should be subject one to another, thinking of and treating each other as better (worthy of more honor) than self. To put it another way, a corporate business structure to church leadership—in any semblance— is a hurdle to building organic church community. God’s kingdom should not operate as the world. “Servant leadership” has become a buzz word passed about but not to the putting away of hierarchical practices inherited from Christendom (Rome and Protestantism). Ray Stedman writes that this kind of hierarchy is a major reason for clergy/laity division in the Body, hindering true “Body Life.”
2. PROFESSIONAL MINISTERS:
- Pastoral work should not be done for expected pay. Gifts and even allotments, as the rest of the Body may receive in any time of need are fine; but, I see the example of Jesus and all of the Apostles was not to depend on these things with expectation. They waived their “rights,” and they supplied their own needs by the work of their own hands. Some say this is idealistic of me and impossible for today. I say, today’s “professional ministry paradigm” makes it impossible.
- Ministers must have academic training in today’s brain blurring Information Age. Not only that, but it takes no small amount of real academic discipline to learn 3,500 – 4,600 years of religious history, Bible backgrounds, languages, cultures and interpretative methods just to be able to stand in front of people and treat the Bible fairly. Still, professional ministers are often chosen for positions based on their academic preparations and not their relational maturity and emotional intelligence/empathy. The statistical result is a higher concentration of megalomaniacs and narcissists leading churches than in any other profession.
3. INSTITUTIONAL GROWTH MODELS: Part of today’s professional ministry paradigm is a “growth” focused church model. The organizational tools and implements utilized by pastors to structure intentional growth are the very things which hinder organic and authentic community. Genuine love does not build institutional platforms—even if they are meant to facilitate relationship—to “make ministry happen” or control and quantify relationship; rather, love naturally takes an interest in others, is glad to be with others, reveres another better than self, builds trust, is quick to listen with compassionate empathy, is slow to speak. Instead of authentic love, we too often foster a practice of “ministry love,” which says, “I am committed to “fixing you,” in order to prove God uses me,” or, “Because of my position, I am spiritually superior, and/or, I presume you need my help to make you spiritual.” It is hard to motivate anyone, except narcissists and megalomaniacs to take up this kind of ministry model.
The answer to this conundrum (as gathered from Ray Stedman and Marcus Warner) is to have enough face-to-face time with people, in order to train them how to know and live in their new identity, how to become relationally mature and how to be Hesed (Love) cultivators—i.e. farmers of the Love of the Spirit, allowing gracious room for each member of the Body to develop a big, direct connection with God, rooted and grounded in… Hesed love (for Him and one another).
…. Which leads to the next point.
4. POSITION and RESULTS ORIENTED TRAINING: Pastors will focus so much on church growth models and the structure needed to intentionally grow numerically that they soon think people can only be trained for “ministry” (and do ministry) by fulfilling a position that is necessary to the operation of the institution, having been established by the pastors. [For example, we need children’s church leaders. So, let’s search for people willing to do that.] Thus, people begin to think ministry is a thing done only inside the 4 walls of a church: an operational function and set of skills, far apart from gifting and leading of the Spirit. Sadly this paradigm also trains them to see themselves directed by pastors, instead of God… as if pastors are the ones who bestow opportunity for ministry, instead of the Spirit Himself. The pastors—ever so slightly—have become lords over God’s heritage. At best, people will have little-to-no interactive relationship with God, The Spirit, as He would direct them to minister. At medium, folks will become insecure in their relationship with God and become co-dependent on Pastors for approval. Burn-out, discouragement and/or spiritual collapse is frequent.
”Burnout is typical of organizations led by results-oriented, problem-solving leaders. These leaders have a well-trained management brain but often lack a well-trained relational brain. If the master system is untrained or misfiring, the “successful” leader will drive herself and her group to worry, anxiety, anger, depression, and burn out. In the end, this results-focused leader will produce a structure that is likely to come to a grinding halt or spectacular crash.” —Dr. Marcus Warner | Get the book #RARELeadership to revive and grow healthy teams: https://goo.gl/K4jjnK
At worst, people start being tempted toward the works of the flesh: getting carnal by envying and pursuing empty glory and prestige (like Diotrephes), brought on by pastor-created positions, approvals, perceived hierarchy, etc… and a lack of realization that the Spirit within is Who directs true ministry, both within the Body and outside it.
Now, I know all of this can sound rather gloomy and cynical. But, my aim is to leave you with resources that have not only shown me these hurdles, but also, how to overcome them.
*Ray Stedman — Authentic Christianity, Body Life https://www.raystedman.org/
*Marcus Warner — Deeper Walk International: especially “Fixing the Broken Discipleship Factory” and RARE Leadership and Institute Courses 1-4. https://www.deeperwalkinternational.com/
*Jim Wilder — Joy Starts Here https://joystartshere.com/
*Ed Welch — When People are Big and God is Small https://www.amazon.com/When-People-are-Big-Small-ebook/dp/B0073M6FFC