“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Pastor?

As I pondered some of the interview with Osteen, I was brought back to something he said. This is not a post specifically about him, but about a mentality.

When Osteen was being interviewed, he was pointing out all of the lives that he had touched, and then he said something that bothered me from the moment I heard it. His statement was something like I have helped so many people, not me, but God. I don't even know these people.

What struck me was his admission that he had no idea who the people were that he had 'helped'. Now, I understand that he wrote a book that sold thousands (millions?), and he can hardly be expected to know everyone who bought his book. I am not making that statement, but I am talking about the fact that a 43,000 member church is one that CANNOT be pastored effectively.

The concept of a pastor as a shepherd is throughout the Bible, and if you contemplate that for a minute, you will realize that a man cannot be called a pastor if he does not know his flock. Even the reporter called Lakewood a 'family business'. Yes, I know there are men that I respect who have large churches, but I remain unconvinced that a pastor can be effective without knowing his flock, or having a leadership structure which enables true pastoring to occur.

The structure that places a plurality of elders at the head of the church is one that enables a church to grow larger, and still retains the context of 'pastoring'; elders can be responsible for portions of the congregation without requiring one man to be the center of all care and feeding of the flock.

However, with the mindset of the mega-church today, most of these structures are business-like: that is, they have a CEO (Hybels, Osteen, Warren et al), and then a board that is elected or hired by the CEO - (usually his confidants and/or family). This board serves at the whim of the CEO, and their primary function is to propagate the plan of the 'boss', as opposed to minister to the flock. Many of these people are paid big salaries to ensure that the agenda of the specific church runs according to plan.

What happened to elders standing AROUND their flock, with rod and staff at hand -- to protect the church from predators, false teachers, from each other? In a mega-church environment, there is little that the supposed leaders can do -- they simply cannot know the flock, and sadly, many of the leaders of these churches are the ones their flock need to be protected from! Where is the accountability of an Osteen? A man who can get on Larry King and make the statements he makes, equating Evangelical Christianity and Mormonism, a man who is unable to even provide a rudimentary articulation of the Gospel? Where is the accountability of a Warren who goes to Syria and praises their human rights and freedom of religion, where is the accountability of an Ed Young Jr. who can not only put together an obscene sermon series on sex, but then sell the series, slides, ppts and all?

These men do not have others to whom they are accountable -- they have things like 'team creative' which is nothing more than a bunch of people who sit around and dream up new and novel ways to push the same old self-help message. They have boards that assist them in their business ventures, but what about men who will hold them accountable to what they are teaching and preaching?

Why is it that these men who run large churches never seem to feel the need for accountability until they get caught doing something untoward? Then they come running for 'accountability', and I believe that this is often a ruse to get them back 'in the business' sooner rather than later. "Hey, I need accountability so i can return to the podium soon"

In today's church we have far too few pastors, willing to take on all dangers for his flock, and far too many businessmen who have been hired in to 'cast a vision'! Below are a few Scriptures that describe how God feels about false shepherds -- one from the Prophets one from the Epistles.

Zechariah 11:16, 17 -- For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!

2nd Peter 2:1 - 3 -- But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

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