Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lying to the Church

How do you know if your church leaders, or those campaigning for office in the church, are lying to you? Here are some doozies that should raise red flags...

"The administrative organs of the church are strictly advisory" - Ah, the myth of servant leadership! For once they're in power, they suddenly begin describing themselves as "ecclesiastical supervisors," suing breakaway congregations for control of church property, and placing anyone who dissents from their policies under the ban.

"Our leadership will be transparent and accountable" - except when it isn't. Don't expect full disclosure of the church body's financial position. More and more decisions will be made in executive session, behind closed doors and blanketed by a gag rule. Surprise!

"We have a heart for missions" - as evidenced by the withdrawal of so many career missionaries from the field, and the prohibition against word-and-sacrament ministry that hamstrings many who remain. But in the sense of self-funded, short-term, mission-themed tourists providing health services, caregiving, and ESL, we have more "missionaries" than ever!

"Everyone is a minister" - the old "priesthood of all believers" scam. Yet the churches whose "policy-based governance" we are holding up as a model for the future concentrate more power in the hands of the staff or a board of directors, reducing the bulk of church members to customers or audience members; and with the praise team leading services, the audience's role in worship grows increasingly passive.

"Worship forms are adiaphora" - i.e. a matter of free choice. And yet, once you accept this and let the contemporary, "pop music" brand of worship get its foot in the door, the story changes. From then on the party line is that if you love Jesus and want to save souls, this style of worship is what you have to do.

"As long as we keep our theology straight, we can use any methodology that gets the job done" - as if the doctrines we believe don't imply a certain approach to worship, outreach, etc. Or, conversely, as if our methodology doesn't imply a particular theology...

"We're going to grow the church" - but in what respect? Spiritually? Numerically? Financially? In every respect, this has proven to be an empty promise. Before the church began basing its policies on "church growth," it was actually growing. Now it isn't. Maybe it's a coincidence. But the question remains: How long are we going to keep believing this promise, in spite of evidence to the contrary?

"It's not your grandfather's church anymore" - What? You think any of this is new? This same junk has been going on since Adam and Eve! And the same lying snake is behind it, too!

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