Welcome to episode 17 of The UnSunday Show. I’ve listened to two different podcasts over the last couple of weeks that asked the question, “Can fallen pastors be restored?” One was from a former mega-church pastor who had an emotional affair with someone and in the process of working through that, several people surfaced with other charges of arrogance and pride that led to his being removed from that position.
The second was an interview with a former pastor who admitted to having an affair and both podcasts were asking the same question, can a fallen pastor be restored?
I believe this question is symptomatic of a larger problem that plagues most institutional churches in the west. It assumes there is a valid top-down position of authority in the Ekklesia and in both of these podcasts, restoration meant climbing back into a role of being in charge. It’s another indication that Christ’s words, “it shall not be so among you” with regards to top-down authority in the church he’s building, have become meaningless to us.
I also continue my interaction with Jon Zens’ book, A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick? Here are a couple links to my articles I reference in this episode.
Welcome to episode 16 of The UnSunday Show! I’m taking a short break in this episode from my interaction with Jon Zen’s book because I’m recovering from pneumonia and I don’t have much of a voice right now. So instead, I’m bringing over one last episode from my old Ekklesia Podcast and I’m calling it Bringing Moses To Church, because I think that’s what we do and in so doing, we cause a lot of confusion about how God views us, where we stand with God in any given moment, and how we view God.
In this episode I touch on some foundational topics like:
Christ’s ekklesia (or church) never existed historically until Acts 2.
Why does God look so different in the Old Testament?
The Old Covenant pointed to the New Covenant.
The Old and New Covenants cannot be mixed. They are incompatible with one another. The New Covenant has made the Old Covenant obsolete. Stop bringing Moses to church!
The Old Covenant was temporary and historically time-bound.
The Old Covenant produced a physical people where only some within it knew the Lord. The New Covenant produces a spiritual people where everyone in it knows the Lord. To be in Christ is to be in the New Covenant.
Welcome to episode 15 of The UnSunday Show. In this episode I continue my interaction with Jon Zens’ book, A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick? as I look closer at the top-down authority structure of the clergy/laity system. In my opinion, this system is not neutral but adds an intentional, built-in layer of division within the body of Christ. The pastor-centric, top-down clergy/laity systems in most institutional churches is a product of church history. There is no New Testament warrant for its existence. In fact, the New Testament clearly mitigates against it.
The result of 2,000+ years of the clergy/laity system is that we can’t function apart from the pastor. The pastor is central to the extent that the identity of the entire local church is wrapped up in the person of the pastor in charge and if he or she fails to show up on a Sunday unannounced, we don’t know what to do. We even assign ownership of our local churches to the one pastor in charge. This expresses itself in phrases like, “I go to pastor John’s church” or “Pastor Jim started a new church.” This system of complete dependence on one person was first introduced by Ignatius of Antioch in the early 2nd century when he said,
“Let no one do anything in the church apart from the bishop. Holy communion is valid when celebrated by the bishop or someone the bishop authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the church.”
Welcome to episode 14 of the UnSunday Show! In this episode, I continue my interaction with Jon Zens’ book entitled, A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick? In Section 5 of the book, which is called Why Has Church Become So One-Part Driven?, Zens shares the following quote from David L. McKenna,
“[The pastor] is like the cerebellum, the center for communicating messages, coordinating functions, and conducting responses between the head and body…. The pastor is not only the authoritative communicator of the truth from the Head to the Body, but he is also the accurate communicator of the needs from the Body to the Head.”
Later in the chapter he quotes C. Peter Wagner as saying,
“The army has only one Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ. The local church is like a company with one company commander, the pastor, who gets his orders from the Commander-in-Chief. The company commander has lieutenants and sergeants under him for consultation and implementation, but the final responsibility for decisions is that of the company commander, and he must answer to the Commander-in-Chief… The pastor has the power in a growing church… The pastor of a growing church may appear to outsiders as a dictator. But to the people of the church, his decisions are their decisions.”
Let’s talk about it!
Zen’s book and my blogs mentioned in this episode:
Welcome to episode 13 of The UnSunday Show. I finally bought a book that I first saw in 2008. It’s called A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile by Jon Zens. It’s subtitled, What Makes American Christianity Tick? I think the title says it all. It’s an excellent book that I really enjoyed reading so I thought I would share it with you by way of interacting with short excerpts from it. This will be the first of several episodes interacting with this book. I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us.
My first exposure to Jon Zens was in 1995 and I had the opportunity to meet him later that same century (I’ve been waiting for a chance to use that “century” phrase!). If you’re not familiar with his writings, I think you’ll find them informative and encouraging. You can find Jon Zens on-line at Searching Together. Here’s a link to the book:
Welcome to episode 12 of the UnSunday Show! I caught two of my friends at a weak moment and they both agreed to come on the show and talk with me about their individual journeys out of the institutional church. My conversation with Rocky Glenn and Jim Gordon centered around their reasons for leaving that religious environment, their experiences along the way, and what community looks like now, apart from religious influence and obligation.
Jim and Rocky’s stories are indicative of millions who’ve left the institutional church environment in favor of a more authentic experience apart from it, me included. We haven’t left the faith or the body of Christ. One cannot leave the body of Christ without walking away from Jesus. The two are mutually inclusive. Like so many others, we’ve simply discovered a more genuine expression of the body of Christ apart from religious obligation and conformity to institutional rules, expectations, and traditions.