Here's a question for all church leaders...
Are you kingdom building or empire building?
Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God 116 times across the four gospels, so it was obviously an important part of his message. Much of what we do in church is about building and extending the kingdom for His glory. Sadly this sometimes goes awry.
Having been a Christian and a regular churchgoer for more years than I care to remember I've had many opportunities to observe church leaders and learn lessons from them. The good ones serve as role models and the bad ones serve as warnings on how not to do it.
My question arises from the fact that I've seen more and more behaviour from leaders which leaves me wondering who is being worshipped on a Sunday morning? I especially find myself asking this question of many of the larger trendy charismatic churches with their famous pastors. I recently saw some photos of a big church conference here in SA and was disturbed by some of the images of a well known pastor soaking up the adulation of the crowd. I guess it's not for me to judge as the photos are but a fleeting snapshot in time but I certainly wouldn't make my home in a church like that.
Another aspect of church or leadership behaviour that leads me to asking this question is to do with leaders who seem to view their calling to pastor as a career choice. This can be especially pronounced within apostolic circles where certain leaders jockey for position and miss the essence of the apostolic, namely that apostles are church planters, not self appointed grandees directing church affairs from afar.
The model of Paul in the new testament is so often misconstrued by apostles. Yes Paul spoke into church life, yes he directed churches from afar, he had to given he was locked up. But the distinctive of Paul's ministry is that he planted each of those churches and so was a father figure to the leaders and this is where his authority as an apostle came from. He didn't jockey for position to become an apostle, nor was it a career choice. Rather he got off his butt and planted churches.
Acts 15 makes it clear that apostles can only act with the consent of elders and it is the elders that send apostles. Then in Acts 16:4 we learn that the major decisions were made jointly by the apostles and elders. "As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.". When apostles act without the permission of the elders it's time to get away from them!
Unbelievably there are apostolic circles in which the apostle/s have never planted a single church! It does make you wonder what is being built, the kingdom of God or a personal empire?
This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2013.
Image borrowed from Resurgence