How to Kill A Church, Part 2 of 3

By Davis W. Huckabee

I. BY STAYING AWAY FROM IT

II. BY STARVING IT

III. BY STRIFE IN IT

Strife has probably killed almost as many churches as any other one thing. When two people are in disagreement, and both are utterly selfish, it will cause a strife which will grow until it consumes the whole church, unless the church takes steps to end the strife. Strife is a mark of spiritual immaturity and carnality: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ .. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and &visions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" I Cor. 3:1,3.

Strife generally has its roots in pride, for where there is strife, both parties proudly assume that they are right, and will not admit even the possibility of being wrong. At the same time, neither will try to see the other's point of view, nor will either admit that the other could be right in the least degree. It is a fortunate church which does not have such an undercurrent of strife. Strife is also promoted by self-righteousness in that one looks down upon others, while exalting self in his own mind. He takes the attitude of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9ff. Pride stands in the way of humility, which is always the first step toward repentance.

One of the most tragic forms of church strife is when a member, or group of members, get their feelings hurt by the preaching (which is very common when the preacher is faithful to preach against sin, and to declare the members' duty). Often the dissident members will mount a campaign to run the preacher off, and the most common excuse used is that he is a "dictator. " Now we have no sympathy with a genuine dictator in the pulpit, but ere a man of God is stigmatized as a dictator, men had best consider what the preacher is commissioned and commanded to do: he is to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine, " II Tim. 4:2. "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear, " I Tim. 5:20. "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, " Tit. 1: 13.

On the basis of these, and the many other similar texts, the preacher has a duty to not only declare the truth, but also to rebuke those members who are living wayward lives, and no one has a right to call him a dictator for only doing his duty. This is not to say that he may use the pulpit to chide members for personal differences of opinion, nor that he should jump upon and spur every one for every little misstep. The wise pastor will quickly learn to use Christian psychology even in the most serious breaches of Christian ethics, and that "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger, " Prov. 15: 1. A belligerent or overbearing preacher will produce only heartache for himself and discouragement for the church.

Strife between the members of a church and the pastor often destroys a church for the simple reason that by rebellion against the pastor, the members are rebelling against the Lord, for though the church may vote to call a man as pastor, yet if they are led of the Lord in doing so, the pastor is made the superintendent or overseer (Grk. "bishop") over the flock, Acts 20:28. Not only so, but the preacher, when he stands to declare the gospel, is an ambassador for Christ, beseeching men in the stead of Christ to be reconciled to God, R Cor. 5:18-20. And yet more so, when he preaches Christian responsibility to believers, they are obligated to obey and submit themselves, for the pastor is accountable to God for them, and thus it is a solemn thing to disobey when the pastor is only endeavoring to lead one on to serve the Lord better and more faithfully. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief. for that is unprofitable for you, " Heb. 13:17.

Some churches degrade the pastoral office to that of a mere figurehead, and treat the pastor with less respect than any layman in the church; sometimes they let their independency and autonomy go to their heads, and they think they can run the preacher off any time they don't like what he says. But it is noteworthy that the Scriptures give not a single example of the dismissal of a pastor from a church, nor of a church even challenging the authority of the pastoral office.

It is to be granted that the church has authority over its members, including the pastor, but it is also true that the pastor is a man specially called of God to his office, and he stands in a special relationship to God, and while on rare occasions it may be necessary to dismiss and exclude a preacher because of immorality or heresy, yet a church should be very slow to take any action against one of the Lord's prophets without good reason. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses, " I Tim. 5:19. "Touch not mine anointed, and do myprophets no harm, " Ps. 105:15. http://independent-baptists.org/

2 comments:

Andrew Schank said...

Great points! I especially like the part about no Scriptural precedent for "dismissal of a pastor from a church, nor of a church even challenging the authority of the pastoral office".

AMEN!

Andrew Schank

http://workingpastor.blogspot.com

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Thank you so much for this comment. It is such a blessing when God uses another to post something that he has held as truth in ones heart for so many many years. I only pray for those who do not see or those who will not see. God is so good to us and His mercy is such a blessing. connie McEntire