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How ‘Starched and Ironed’ Leaders Can Infect a Church





Starched and ironed
(iStock photo)

"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart ... "  (Acts 7:51). 

"No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch pulls away from the garment and a worse tear results. Nor do men put new wine in old wineskins ..." (Matt. 9:16-17).

Let's start with an intriguing quote from a great churchman ...

"The church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed." – John Wesley

Not sure of the context of Wesley's quote, but I like it because it so accurately sums up the situation of a small contingent within every church. Now, I have to say this conjures up memories of my childhood. Mom did her own washing and ironing, and often, to starch a shirt or blouse, she would soak it in a bucket into which she had mixed up the dry starch with water. These days, anyone starching at home uses a spray, I expect.

There's nothing like a great starched shirt. I love them. Alamo Cleaners of River Ridge, Louisiana, does them for me. My wife loves me but not enough to do that.

Now then, some church members have been starched and ironed before they were washed. A great metaphor. But what does it mean?

"Starched and ironed" means they are now:

  • Prim and proper
  • Firmly set and fixed in their ways
  • Missing something essential: an experience with the living God by the Blood of Jesus Christ.  Scripture promises "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). But these people have bypassed that experience for one reason or another.

    As a result, they are:

  • Rigid and not flexible.
  • Pretty but not functional.
  • Self-righteous but not actually righteous.
  • Legal but unloving
  • Pharisaical and proud of it.

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