Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing his reflections and practical insights as a ministry leader on Greenelines, a new podcast. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.
Today there are many people in the independent Evangelical and Pentecostal movements who start churches merely because they feel led to do so.
If there were a way to statistically track the outcomes of these self-ordained pastors, my educated guess, based on years of experience, is that most of these churches and/or ministries fail to last more than a few years.
In our American culture, we glorify independence and self-determination. These values are great when it comes to our entrepreneurial spirit, which is why our nation will probably always take the lead in creativity and wealth creation and our economy will continue to rebound in spite of what the federal government does to us. But when it comes to functioning properly in the body of Christ, these values can be harmful.
Unfortunately, the way many of our brothers and sisters have "called themselves" to start churches or launch ministries mimics Hollywood movies more than biblical protocol! I am thinking of movies that depict independent fundamentalist evangelicals like The Apostle (staring Robert Duvall) and Elmer Gantry (staring Burt Lancaster). The former highlights a man who baptizes himself and calls himself an apostle, while the latter features a man who conducts tent crusades without any ministerial training or affiliation to a church, association, or denomination.
A telling scene in Elmer Gantry involves a group of pastors and a newspaper reporter asking evangelist Elmer Gantry and a lady evangelist a simple question: Who trained and ordained you? Their response: "God" did.
These movies demonstrate that even secularists understand there is something wrong with this way of doing ministry. It is as ridiculous as sending yourself to Afghanistan to fight Islamic terrorists without the covering, protection, training or the strategy of the U.S. military. I have had experiences in my own church in which a person left the church without proper training, communication or protocol with plans to start a church in their home. My primary question to people such as these is "Who sent you?"
I tell our church members that when they meet a minister or pastor for the first time, the number one question they should ask is "Who sent you?" or "Who do you submit to?" If the minister or pastor says "God" then run from them as fast as you can. Many have started local churches for the same reason some entrepreneurs start their own small businesses instead of working for a larger company: they simply don't want to submit to anyone else or have someone over them telling them what to do.
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