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Many pastors operate like CEOs, and run their churches based off of the business model. I have heard cases for and against that mindset, and for now, that is neither here nor there.

However, when a pastor functions like a CEO, I tend to get nervous. Usually, these men (or women) have strong personalities and are business-savvy. Again, all well and good. The trap I see for these leaders, however, is an unnecessary pressure to produce the results that would be required of a CEO. Companies have a bottom line, and it is radically different than the Church’s bottom line. In corporations, revenue is king and stockholders need to be kept happy.

You may already see where this is going…

If profits dip and growth slows down under a CEO, that leader gets replaced.

In a church, however, if a pastor’s attention is largely budgetary and their efforts are spent coddling the big givers, the church will die. The numbers may not fall off right away, but the church will rot from the inside out.

What happens when pastors become the center of the church’s attention is volatile, because the church was never meant to be centered around one person. When Jesus uses the word “church” when he’s talking to Peter in Matthew 16:18 is the Greek word “ekklesia.” This is a borrowed word from the Roman Empire that speaks of a group of followers – all ruling with and under the Caesar’s authority.

I truly believe the next major movement in the local church will be grounded in collaboration, many hands involved, working with and under the authority of Jesus.

Pastors at the Center of Attention pt. 1

Pastors at the Center of Attention pt. 2

The Gateway Church in downtown Des Moines played this video as their call to worship last week. I didn’t see it live, but I imagine the impact was great. I never considered myself a fan of spoken word, but I may just be after all…

go ahead and ignore the part at 1:15 :)

via Kretzu

Amanda and I went to a local church here in Des Moines yesterday that is known for having an incredible preacher. He is a great leader, pastor and visionary, and the guy can flat out preach on top of it.

So we showed up at church, and despite the teaching schedule published on the church website, missed the fact that he wasn’t preaching. I said (out loud) as we realized he wasn’t there during the first worship song, “Ugh, we should have looked online before we came.”

There are two reactions to that statement, and I made them both in the few moments that followed the comment:

  • Yeah, I hate listening to boring/not-as-good-as-the-main-guy preachers

OR

  • Repent for that arrogant and prideful attitude. You can learn from anyone and anytime if you are open. Jerk.

I, of course, justified the comment in my head with the first reaction. No one likes to wake up early to be put back to sleep by a bad sermon. But then I realized a few things about the heart of that comment, and repented through the last few songs of the worship set.

It revealed a much deeper personal truth for me, because I have been “the other guy” preaching in three different churches, and in each occasion, I felt like I had a message burning up inside me that I was beyond excited to share. If people would have been searching for the nearest exits when they saw it was me instead of the lead pastor, I would have been greatly offended. Even that pity party, though, hints at a deeper level of pride.

You see, I think I am a gifted communicator who knows my way around Scripture enough to teach you something. I forget, that I don’t really know anything at all, and outside of the grace on me in those situations, like any other in my daily life, I would be an utter failure.

As much as preachers need to remember it’s not about them, it’s about the person of Jesus who brings peace, hope and restoration, we as the audience in corporate gatherings need to remember it’s not about us either.

Anyone can learn from anyone at anytime if they are open.

So here’s to us selfish, arrogant, offensive disciples who are in need of wild grace. And many grateful thanks to the one who offers it.

P.S. The sermon was about pride. Beautiful.

Pastors at the Center of Attention Pt. 2

Pastor at the Center of Attention Pt. 3

What’s the one message you would love to here preached?

A message on a certain perplexing scripture, social issue or theological position?

What’s that one topic you’d love to hear covered?

Speaking of that “one thing,” What’s that one thing that drives you crazy?

I read this comment on a blog yesterday and it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Maybe we’re more homophobic than we are biblical in our view of sin.

Wow.

This comment was in response to a post about a man being fired from a church for admitting his struggle with homosexuality. Here is the first post that started it off, the response post from the author, and a follow-up post that features a video response by an authority on the topic.

About the quote: I believe it touches on a deep truth found in the church.

Church leaders are held to a higher than average standard – it just comes with the territory. However, it seems that those in the church, including those in leadership, tend to prioritize sin. The problem and danger in a prioritization of sin is that as Scripture says, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We all require grace. We all need the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. That’s why it’s referred to as the good news.

So when we try to take a sin and make it the sin, we are creating a culture where my sins aren’t as bad as your sins, and our sins aren’t as bad as their sins. This is rooted in two things, both destructive: pride and fear.

Pride because we don’t want to admit our sins, failures and shortcomings. Surely God understands what I am struggling with, and knows my heart – but that guy, he just needs to straighten up.

Fear because our sin separates us from Christ just as much as the next guy, and admitting that sin, and waiting for the judgment of others, makes you feel like you just strolled into class on the first day of school in your underwear.

I pray that we can be reminded to lay down our pride and fear, and seek the reconciliation and restoration found in Christ.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.