Scandals in the Church
I respectfully disagree with the one-sided, closed-minded view Larry Keefauver took in his recent column, "No Honor" (Editor's Note, November/December 2000). Some time ago, I left a church because of the numerous acts of deception on the part of the senior pastor, coupled with a turn in doctrine with which I simply could not agree. I told my pastor of my decision to leave and at first he was in total agreement. He gradually changed his position about my departure and eventually became outright offended by my decision.
Agreement morphed into threats and scandal. I said things I had to repent for. But what do you say to men and women who have made covenant with a once honorable, God-fearing pastor who backslides from his previous stance and position in the gospel? Why not explain to young ministers how to handle it when the pastor changes his salary without warning, repeatedly lies to the congregation, spreads private counseling information about his congregants to others and forces his ministers to live above their means so the ministry can appear prosperous?
In your "observer's suggestions," you made a startling point that seems common among charismatic pastors. You said that one must "get out of town" after they leave a church. Are you saying that one must leave his or her hometown when he leaves a local church in an effort to prevent a church split? I think there is more to this than honor and ethics--this sounds to me as if we are concerned about our personal kingdoms.
Are Titles Important?
Dr. C. Peter Wagner ("What the Doctor Recommends," July/August 2000) has provided a lot of wonderful counsel to the church through the years. I appreciate the work he has done with respect to the New Apostolic Reformation.
However, I am uncomfortable with the emphasis placed on titles. The source of my discomfort is found in his response to the question, "How do you see the church equipping its leaders today as differing from the traditional academic models?"
Wagner uses the phrase, "Cream rises to the top, and the leaders then become apparent." Then he says, "When leaders rise in the church like this..."
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it produces another hierarchy. In the church, leaders are not trying to rise, but rather descend. The motto of every Christian leader should be that of John the Baptist: "He must increase, I must decrease.
The New Apostolic Reformation will not go very far if its main legacy is the identification of a new hierarchy. God is looking for servants in His kingdom with whom He can entrust leadership. Who cares about titles?