- Religion and Philosophy
Churches Built on a Faulty Premise
And the Cost to Pastors
Several sources have reported statistics that people are leaving the established churches. At first glance it may be assumed there is a falling away, or perhaps backsliding. Or even some who have slipped away from the faith. But further investigation reveals that some folks are just fed up with the sensationalist materialistic church systems of today and want something more intimate and a relationship more personal with Jesus Christ.
The church model we are accustomed to is a system run as an Institution, organization, or denomination. It is governed by a governing church board, a board of elders, or upon a Pastoral vision. Many expect the churches to run by Pastor authority. That is what we had excepted as tradition. Anything otherwise is considered apostasy by tradition.
However, the tradition we had been taught was based on a premise that the foundation of the faith is built upon the vision of the Pastor, or upon a board under the governing authority of a mother Church organization. Though according to scripture this is apostasy.
In scripture, the household of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief cornerstone. And together the pieces, each of the members of the body, fitly frame together that grows unto a holy temple in the Lord. And it says that it is built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).
So what does this mean? Well, in today's contemporary model, we see denominations that elect boards, hold meetings, and send off trained clergy to operate one of their facilities. In independent churches, the foundation is built upon a Pastor's vision. He signed papers filed to the State to be recognized as a clergy qualified to run an organization. The foundation is built from the Pastor down to the congregation who sees the building in the community and joins it. However, that does not follow the foundation built in Ephesians.
Let us look at the structure given in scripture.
[Eph 4:11-13] 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
So in this structure, the church is given functions to operate. All for the work of the ministry, edifying of the saints, and for the knowledge of the Son of God.
Several groups, such as baptist groups, teach the dispensation position that the Ephesians 4:11 functions, that we know as five-fold ministries, have been done away with. Of course with the exception of their traditional position of "Pastor." And some groups put all functions under the authority of one Pastor, who takes upon himself the role of all the other functions. Where is this scriptural? Why is it the "Pastor" who gets the attention of the star role? And how did we get a title out of the function of pastors as it is written for a plural position? Tradition has given the word pastor as a title. but it was not meant that in its original context.
The word pastor has been adopted from the Latin usage. That due to the requirement of the Institution to give an authority title. The Pope used it to designate his agents as clergy managing the individual Church congregations of the Catholic sect. The King of England designated agents with the title to manage authority over the individual congregations of the Protestant sects. Bother were State run positions. But today in a modern sense, we retain that title name for the one who has authority over the church organization. And that is also an entity of the State as many churches are required to file under a 501c3 organization status to receive benefits and avoid taxable requirements. But a recognized agent of the State nonetheless. Does this mean the pastor has no role? Of course not. But mind you, the term pastor has been used only to give perception of a position of authority for the system to work as a hierarchy.
The true function of pastors as written in scripture is correctly rendered in English as shepherds. The role of the pastors is not functioning today as it was in the first early church or what it was intended. The church assembly was based on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, not the Pastor's vision. As the five-fold functions operated, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, THEN some shepherds (pastors) and teachers. The shepherds didn't "build it and they will come," the other functions are the foundation of the faith bringing people into the fold. And then those who are shepherds function to shepherd the sheep who are rounded up needing nurturing. The position is recognized as one having a heart to lay his life down for the sheep. And that is not one of governing authority OVER the church, nor is the church based around his vision, but it is one who goes down beneath the sheep to guide, nurtures, and matures as he protects them from wolves.
Does this mean Pastors should give up their authority and surrender their livelihood? The rich young ruler asked Jesus what it takes to follow Him. He had riches, he gave to the poor, he followed the law. Because he enjoyed his position and his wealth, Jesus told him the requirement would be selling everything he had to follow Him. But instead the rich young ruler walked away sad.
So what are pastors supposed to do if their whole life has been in this "occupation" and that is how they are supported? They have built an empire around this business occupation. And one has to admit it is a business. Pastors today will hear the message of this essay (perhaps squirming), but as it takes action to do it will dig their heels in the sand in resistance. The requirement to do right is costly for them. The Pastors have been tempted by the great Beast, the whore of Babylon, to operate as the State business, to partake in her fruit, and are trapped in the system. BUT truth is, if they see their woes and turn from the traditional counterfeit system, God will find a way for them to survive.
Jesus said there are only "few who enter." Are the faulty churches teaching the gospel? Some are leading others in a false security of salvation based on a single canned sinner's prayer to get the feather in their cap. Some have been teaching under a false premise. Some in a sensationalist gospel, in a promising gospel, in a mental imagery gospel, in a positive thinking and word of faith gospel, in a community gospel, in a tolerant gospel. They urge community members to attend their luxurious religious centers and pay their dues (tithes) to reward the officiate for their professionally polished message, as well as pay for necessary remodeling and expansion projects. Not to mention the paid staff. Is this the gospel?
Will Jesus look at it and show how impressed He is with what you built for Him? No, because He told us He isn't impressed with these designated facilities that we build with human hands.
[Act 7:48-51] 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things? 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.
He wants us to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4). These things we built make a name only for ourselves. And frankly are distractions to a real relationship with the Master Jesus Himself.
What if we break down the dividing walls as some suggest. "Breaking dividing walls" is a nice hope, but the truth is in order to do that it will take more than converging and allowing integration between the groups. All the major institutions are built upon the faulty premise. They are still operating under the faulty church system. Breaking down the wall of one into another only merges two faulty institutions together, therefore does not accomplish what it intends. The system has to be broken and titles surrendered. Denominational associations need to be denounced, but that means doctrinal training revisited afresh. It is almost impossible. People will need to make a clean break spiritually from the whore system that has traditionally been built. Pastors will need to repent and retrain after the correct model as outlined in example from scriptures.
The current system cannot be "fixed." There is no putting new patches on old wine skin. You can't bandage what is faulty from the foundation. It is like rebuilding a tattered house that was build upon sand in the first place when the foundation is flimsy. This requires more than a "fixing." This requires a reformation into a "new" way that is to return to the original plan.
So what are those who seek this venture to do? Should they leave their church? Certainly they could seek out those also having this awakening, and arrange believer's meetings in a home or at someone's office, or perhaps in the park (on a nice day). A church is not an established institution with a clergy residing. The scriptures tell that when two or more gather in His name, He is in the midst (Matthew 18:20). To see the true definition of "church" see my article Upon This Rock I will Build My Church.
The pilgrimage is not necessarily a physical exile, though it likely may be. It is a spiritual and mental acknowledgment. To be IN the world but not OF the world applies the same to the church system. Many are being called out. Have you been called out of her?