Pastors Have Lost Their Way- They Must Become Apostles Again
I have a question for pastors. Actually, I have a question for pastors and for all Christians who do all their serving within church walls. Do you believe you serve God? Do you believe you are obeying Christ’s command to ‘go out and tell the Good News’ to the world? I don’t ask to be disrespectful. I really don’t. I ask because it just seems too easy to do what you are doing. It seems so safe, so easy and so insulated. How hard is it to hang around people who agree with you all the time? How hard is it to talk to only Christians day in and day out? I mean, who hates a pastor? Especially a pastor who is only saying things that people want to hear? From what I see, pastors are very beloved people. They are sought after dinner guests. They are the most popular people at church. Everyone wants to shake the pastor’s hand. Crowds gather around them after church and they have to carefully met out their hand shaking time so that they can exit the church in time for their kid’s baseball game.
How hard is that?
I don’t see how that brings the hate of world upon their shoulders.
Didn’t Christ tell us that to serve him would leave us homeless? Didn’t he say that to follow him would leave us friendless? Didn’t he say that slander would follow us? Didn’t he say that men would look down upon us? I mean, didn’t Jesus say, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” in Luke 6:26 (NIV) ?
I don’t see any of that happening to pastors today. I see good salaries- double salaries, sometimes, when pastors’ wives also work for the same church. I see great vacations around the world. I see kids going to great universities. I see new cars, motorcycles, a bit of fame and not a speck of disgust anywhere online against any pastor I know. Only love and admiration.
Yet, I am detested and hated and alone. And no pastor I know stands with me. One of my pastors calls me a conspiracy theorist. Both pastors tell me that when I speak, I am not ‘kind’ enough, not ‘Christian’ enough to non-Christians. I believe I am to understand that this is the reason they don’t stand by me.
No one from my church has called me to see how I am doing. Even though I have filled out my nifty, very business efficient ‘communication card’ and told them about this lawsuit. I have told them the tremendous burden I am under. I have asked for prayer. I have described the rape, the defamation suit, everything. I have missed Sunday church for many weeks. And yet, not one phone call. Not one word of concern. I have been quite involved in this church. They know me well. Yet, silence.
I can only conclude one thing: they are distancing themselves from me. I am an embarrassment.
Actually, I will conclude two things: they also don’t care. One can say it this way: they have no love for me. Words are cheap, after all.
Yet, they are very busy planting more and more churches in the world. The plan is to plant 100 of them in the next 40 years or so. How lovely to be remembered as the pastor who planted 100 churches in his lifetime. That ‘100’ has a nice, round ring to it, don’t you think? Me? I’ll just be the un-Christian-like woman who wasn’t very nice to homosexuals that went bankrupt for not covering her butt online.
To me, when I watch pastors today, I am reminded of my work as a management consultant. What a cush job that was. It’s just business. It was fun. Challenging. Intellectual. Sure, there were stresses and pitfalls- but the pay was great and the status was even better. I think being a pastor building a hundred churches would be very similar to that experience. Very heady stuff. You are awash in love and praise. Everyone thinks you are smart as hell- and if you are a pastor, they also must think you are moral as hell too. Does it get any better?
But what if you get paid nothing to do the work? What if your work were different in nature? What if, instead of building beautiful buildings, full of people who agree with you, you had to stand up in front of hostile crowds who may likely hate you and what you are about to say? What if they begin to heckle you the second you begin to speak? What if you lose your cool during the heckling and your fellow Christians start criticizing you for not handling yourself better? What if you were to be arrested if you spoke? What if, by speaking, you killed your chances of ever earning money for your family again? What if you knew that by speaking God’s truth, your children might not get the money they needed to educate themselves in college? What if you knew that your children might not get to play baseball or soccer or football because you were about to tell officials that their actions were cursed by God? Then, pastors, would you speak? Thus far, the answers to those questions appears to be, ‘no.’ And there are always a million ‘good’ answers why. The most prevalent answer seems to be: it’s just ‘not the right time or place.’
It’s never the right time. The time is right now. The place is in church.
Jesus never said to go out and ‘plant churches’. He told us to go out and tell people the good news- or, one could say- tell the TRUTH of the good news. Today’s pastors interpret this as only planting churches. Yet the Apostles went out among real people and boldly opened their mouths. They stood up to real authorities and spoke directly to them. Our pastors are so hidden behind thick church doors that they have lost the meaning of ‘going out’ among the people. Their actions seem to say that because the Apostles did establish churches and did appoint leaders for them, then a pastor’s job is only to establish churches and preach in them. But I say that you have lost your way and you have lost your boldness and courage for the real work. If this is so, then you have become mere administrators and we have no more apostles.
The real apostles didn’t sit in the early churches. They left them. They went out again among real people. They spoke real, bold words on the streets for everyone to hear. The apostles took enormous risks with their lives by talking on the streets. They were hauled in front of the officials of the cities because of their proclamations and their admonishments of the people. Eventually, most of them were murdered for not only standing up for Jesus, but for admonishing the people, the government and the religious leaders of the day for their grave sins. Pastors today are tight lipped in all matters that count. Some will preach the Bible, but don’t connect any of it to events around them. It is as if the Bible is disconnected from politics and real life events. When sitting in church, one gets the feeling that church is one place and real life is another.
What patent nonsense!
Pastors, we are in dangerous days and I believe, the end days. And even if we don’t see the return of Christ, are we not to live as if we will? Christians are being cut down all over the world. You don’t get to just have your cushy jobs and your nice, air conditioned offices. It doesn’t matter how hard you worked to get where you are. We all work hard at our jobs. Remember, you get paid to do what you do. The apostles were poor men. You are not poor men. You can’t complain about your lot. The very least you can do is suffer a little for the Lord. Stand up and tell the truth. And when someone in your congregation does tell the truth and gets pounded by society for saying it, you need to stand with them- not criticize the way they said it. Your lack of leadership tells the rest of the congregation exactly what to do. Or not do.
I don’t remember Jesus being very nice in Matthew 23.
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  [b]
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[c]”
You would have criticized Jesus, I suppose. We have become the Milquetoast Generation of Christianity. The enemy will hate you simply because you say the truth. Just look at the businesses who have lost everything because they couldn’t serve a gay wedding. They were as polite as could be. I just visited the most polite young woman’s blog who wrote against Bruce Jenner’s ‘coming out’. Oh, the names they called her. The enemy hates the truth.
Arm chair quarterbacking has always been easy.
It hurts that my pastors won’t stand with me in my hour of true need but when I look at their actions, I see the actions, or inactions, of the rest of modern American churches. You want to be ground breaking. You want to be the ‘new church’. You want to see the powerful, earth shaking reawakening of the Holy Spirit in your church and await breathlessly- praying like crazy that it happens. But loud music won’t make the Spirit come. Cool tattoos won’t make the Spirit come. Video sermons won’t make the Spirit come. Multiple ‘campuses’ won’t make the Spirit come, nor will all that new terminology. Money won’t make the Spirit come. The Spirit won’t come until you do what I have done- give over your entire lives to the Lord.
And you know what I mean by that. You need to be hated for what you say. You need to be reviled for the TRUTH. You need to be unpopular among Christians that are not Christians. I’m telling you that the day you open your mouth for the plain, undecorated Truth, you will lose a large part of your congregation because they will be shocked by what you say. But then again, the true Spirit of God will be with you. And the people who love the truth will come. And those who remain will be ever stronger. Jesus needed only 12 to change the world. I yearn for you to take this step.
Pastors need to be apostles instead. They need to go out among real people if they want to change the world. They need to talk to officials and non Christians, not hang around Christians day in and out. They need to risk their own personal hides- their own children, their own money, their own homes, their own spouses, their own livings and their own reputations.
Just as I have.
Then the Spirit of God will rain down upon them and bless their church. That is when the miracles will begin.
We need real apostles again. We need courageous leaders. We need bold speakers. We need risk takers. We need TRUTH TELLERS. We need men who will stand up to the world without fear, without regret. Must a woman, a mother of three lead the way? Should I be Debra and shame you men into it? Should I take the credit because you will not do what men should do?
I hope not. I love you. I believe in you. You are younger than me. I feel that you can be what you should be. I feel you can be the leaders you should be. But you must break the mold. You must take the risk. You must do something radically different. Or you won’t do anything at all. That is my word for you.