Friday, October 22, 2010

Consequences of corporate/cowboy ministry; down to brass tacks

I had thought that perhaps I would go through a virtually litany of effects of corporate/cowboy pastoring,'s a little bit more simple than I originally thought, I've come to think.

That is, cowboy and corporate pastoring adversely impacts the doctrines of "sola scriptura," "perspicuity of the Scriptures," and congregational/presbyterian church polity.  How so?

Well, if the Scripture indeed tells us that it is sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17) for teaching, reproof, and training in righteousness, what does it tell us when someone ignores the call to shepherd and instead uses corporate or cowboy methods to drive the sheep?

It tells us, to some degree, that this person does not fully believe in Sola Scriptura; that the Scripture alone has the answers he needs.  When a person says "my way or the highway," in addition, he's more or less saying he doesn't believe in the perspicuity of Scripture--that God's people, counseled by God's Spirit, will achieve the will of God through the application of the Word of God.   He rather trusts his own will and force of personality to is it a Biblical, or the pastor's, goal in mind here?  It is, sad to say, not always clear--unBiblical methods of making disciples make not only the flock immature, but also.....their shepherd.

When we get to this point, congregational or presbyterian church polity is also at risk, as these church polities require that the congregation be competent to decide important matters.  In short, allowing, or encouraging, cowboy or corporate methods will start to transform a church from congregational or elder rule to episcopal polity. 

Not that leaders intend to do this, but it is one of our blind spots, and one we ought to watch out for.  And as my friend Jim says, keep an eye on the church constitution.  This kind of thing is exactly what such documents are intended to prevent.

Another good example; when I was a deacon at a church in Boulder, our pastor often posted the deacons' meeting minutes for the entire congregation.  He trusted the Spirit of God to move the people of God according to the Word of God.  Not all deliberations can be public, but we had a sweet spirit there in part because everyone knew what was going on.

It's like we need to put away the lasso and powerpoint, and pick up our shepherd's staff, or something like that.

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