Tuesday, October 19, 2010

OK, what IS a cowboy?

Having received a note from a dear brother asking "you're not talking about..., are you?", I figure that I might do well to clarify exactly what I'm talking about, and exactly whom.  The latter first; I am talking about everyone, but no one.  That is, in a society where we revere corporate and government leaders, it will be a rare church that is not impacted, but hopefully the Holy Spirit diverts many from this problem, at least to a degree.  I am trying not to accuse, but to edify--we will see how successful this is!

So how do we recognize the cowboy, or the pastor implementing corporate methods?  It's rarely as obvious as the pastor having a multimillion dollar birthday party for his wife (Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco Electronics), or even the $6000 air conditioned doghouse for which Jim Bakker is rightly infamous.  If your pastor is doing this sort of thing, take notice, but rarely will things be that plain to see.

More often, the pastor is described as "old school," or one can tell that everything is being managed from the pastor's office--or perhaps an influential member of the deacon or elder board.  One sees it when a small group is taken through a program where even the translation of Bible verses used is controlled, or discussion is not allowed (Growing Kids God's Way is a great example).  One sees it when personal preferences are used to define policies instead of Scripture.

Most importantly, though, one sees it as leadership in general uses external persuasion to achieve results instead of leading the congregation to have internal motivation through the Scriptures.

To draw a picture, count the number of times the New Testament commands believers to make disciples and evangelize.  My count so far is Paul's admonition to Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist", the Great Commission, and the sending out of the twelve and the seventy.

Now of course this doesn't mean that it's unimportant--it is a matter of eternal life and death, of course.  What's telling here is that with little admonition--and no tent revivals, crusades, tracts, and other methods we use today that would have gotten the ancient Christians killed in the Circus Maximus--our spiritual forebears turned the Roman world upside down by making disciples.

Worth noting, no?


Jim Peet said...

On "Old School". Only time (and prayer and the Lord) can change this!

On "external persuasion to achieve results". I confess that when I was a Pastor I fell into this trap myself.
Solutions for the congregation: Hold the leadership to the church constitution. It's there for a purpose

Solution for the Pastor: Understand that really on the Spirit of God can change people. Your role is to teach the Word of God, model servant leadership, and depend upon the Holy Spirit to motivate and change people.

I love you brother! Thanks for commenting on my blog. We need to connect one of these days!

Bike Bubba said...

Good points, thanks, and...we'll see if we can get up towards Plymouth sometime.

I fell into the trap of "external persuasion" a time or two as well, though of course not as a pastor. Amazing how the sheep scatter when ya do that....