It’s easy to criticize, that’s why I do it. I’m lazy.
This blog is still in response to “I’m Not Being Fed (and other stupid things Christians say)” I already wrote why Christians should not use the word stupid. (no hair splitting here, You can’t say that someone said something stupid and not also be calling them stupid. We’re Christians not Pharisees.) In this blog I want to address why this problem occurs.
I will grant that is possible that the reason that a Christian might say to a preacher ‘I’m not being fed’ is because that Christian is weak and immature. If I were a preacher and someone said it about my preaching I would probably assume that the fault was with the preachee not the preacher. It takes a lot of spiritual strength to admit fault or the possibility of fault. I’m only that strong one day a year. That is why humility is so important to the Christian life. Before you can learn anything you have to be able to admit that what you know now is not enough. A wise preacher would listen to the criticism and learn from it even if the criticism came from a weak and immature Christian.
There is another possible reason that a Christian might say to a preacher “I’m not getting fed.” It might be because he is not getting fed. Again, a preacher can always put the onus on the non-preacher but what is gained by that? The non-preacher goes away and reads a book about the bible but unbeknownst to him it’s an apostasizer and with no one to correct the book’s lies he loses his faith. Or he faithfully tolerates church until his children are grown then he says ‘why go to church. I can read the Bible and pray at home’ but since he is forsaking the gathering together he eventually loses his faith also. Don’t think this only happens to the weak or immature or carnal. It happens to the best of them. The Bible tells us to meet together for a reason and he tells the teachers to teach for a reason. The question for Evangelicals is how to obey most effectively.
It is easy to see the problem, It is harder to solve the problem but hardest of all is to foresee the problems that will be caused by your solution.
One problem that we Evangelicals have is that we have muddled our church offices. Ephesians 4:11 says “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers”.(NAS) As evangelicals we expect the guy in the pulpit to be both evangelist and pastor. Then we made a new position in the church that we call elder but it is not like the scriptural elder. The scriptural elder got paid and taught and was an overseer and really looked a lot like what we now call a pastor. The modern position of elder is ‘a guy who has gone to the church a long time and who’s wife does a lot of church work so we let him think he’s important (yes I know, not always but a lot of the time). I grew up in a church that had the preacher,elder, deacon pyramid then attended a Baptist church for awhile and they only had a preacher and deacon because their view was that, Biblically speaking the preacher was the elder. Every now and then I change an opinion and this is one I changed; the Biblical elder is closer to our preacher.
If the guy in the pulpit is an evangelist, and what else can he be if we are using our church services to evangelize and what else are we doing if we are making our services ‘seeker’ friendly and by extension ‘found long ago’ unfriendly, who is doing the pastoring/shepherding and teaching and when?
One solution is to have a church that is large enough to have an evangelist and several overseers on salary. It also would allow for both newcomer and old-comer targeted services. Like I said, the problem is foreseeing the other problems that your solution causes. In this case we know the problems of large churches and they are legion. We risk falling into the same traps that befell the large protestant denominations from whom we broke away.
On the other hand.There is a bright side to the status quo. Maybe all of small evangelical churches function as a sort of large church with many choices. If you don’t like the music here then go there and if you don’t like the preaching there go … and so on.
Frankly I think we have missed something and it leaves us weak. I pray that God sends us leaders who can help us to deal with it.