Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yes, I am Weak and Inferior

We have almost come to an end of phasing out the last trappings of cultural Fundamentalism in our church which has reminded me why it's so hard for some people to leave Fundamentalism. To come out of the IFB, means you have to be totally convinced that there were ideas that you once held that are now completely wrong and dishonoring to God when you once held that these very same things were what most honored God and made Fundamentalism superior and right. For example:

Soul Winning - When you really believe that salvation is an act of God to turn their heart to Him and make them "born again" then you will not have as many converts to show for your ministry as the IFB will claim to have (and thus claim this as authentication of God's blessing). Their simplistic and erroneous idea that someone can actually convince a person to be born again by techniques of persuasion results in many  false professions. When a IFB looks at our soul winning numbers, he will shake his head in disgust that we did not have more. I once heard an IFB mega-church pastor in Southern California criticize another well-known Calvinist mega-church nearby, who only had claimed 250 baptisms that year...as if that was proof that they were inferior. What they don't consider is that those 250 who were baptized were all solidly converted people and not a bunch of bus kids that prayed a "poly-wannna-a-cracker" prayer in order to win a goldfish. I recently took fire from someone who left our church and pointed to my lack of "soul winning" as proof that I didn't have any authority to lead him as a pastor. Ok, fine. I am inferior....I'll own that. 

Standards - I ran into some guys from my old college at the newly opened Chick-fil-A and I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt while they were, like usual, dressed to the 9's in the latest New York fashioned suits. My wife was wearing pants too....shudder! Yes, I looked like a rag-a-muffin who wasn't trying to project any kind of pastoral image to anyone. They were kind to me...but I know what they were thinking...because I had been taught to think the same way: "tisk tisk tisk, look at what happens to you when you leave the IFB! You let yourself go." If you walk into our church on any given Sunday, you will only find four or five of the men wearing suits. Yes, we're inferior. 

Pastor as King - When my IFB friends find out that we've gone to a plurality of elders and that I am no longer the top dog who calls all the shots and has every other person on staff serving my wishes, they see it as weakness. "What? You share leadership with someone else as your equal? Who's got the final word? Where does the buck stop? Well, well, you couldn't handle those few sheep all by yourself, eh?" Nope, I'm not dynamic enough. I'm not gifted enough, I'm not strong enough. I need a pastor too. So, I admit it, I'm weak, I need to be under authority too. 

I'll have to be content with the fact that in the eyes of those whose esteem I once craved, I will be considered weak, inferior and insignificant. This is good for me because if any good thing comes of my ministry, the only one I can thank is God. The only "atta-boy" that I'll crave from now on is Christ's. I'm free being weak and inferior. 


Mike said...

Don't forget- there is only ONE pastor of a church. "Anything with more than one head is a monster."

Matt McPhillips said...

THere is only one Pastor of a church and it is Christ!!!

William Dudding said...

Matt, I know Mike and his comment was tongue in cheek. Don't worry.
But you're wrong...the Spirit gave the church apostles, evangelists and "Pastor Teachers" for the edifying of the saints for the work of the ministry. So, there is one Chief Shepherd which is Christ, yet Christ did give his church undershepherds.

What's with all these anti-authority people that I have been running into lately?!

Anonymous said...

Plurality of Elders in church government is definitely more biblically based than what has evolved in IFBdom since the Jack Hyles' pastor worship, man centered, yes-men deacon board church government that many in IFB churches have adopted as 'gospel'.

So, you're still a Baptist, Independent, and hold to the Fundamentals of the faith, but you don't fit into the cookie-cutter IFB mold anymore! If, IFB'ers don't recognize you as part of that camp and you're a reformed Baptist as well....What do you, and other pastors, who've been delivered from this legalistic, dictator/pastor form of church government refer to yourselves as?

William Dudding said...

I don't know....there's not enough of us to actually form a movement with a name on it. I just refer to myself as a historic or confessional Baptist.

Anonymous said...

Historic Fundamental Independent Baptist, HFIB....I think that works! Afterall, historically Baptists either had, or advocated plurality of elders in local churches for centuries. The dictator/pastor, deacon rule is a fairly 20th century phenomenon, as I understand it.

Matt McPhillips said...

I have a crazy idea for a title, "Bible Believer." I also realize Christ has placed pastors in the church, but not as an authority, but as a steward for the One who is the authority, CHRIST!

Anonymous said...

Absolute power corrupts absolutely! I'm sure that's a familiar saying to most, but have you ever been under a pastor that abused his stewardship? They look and act like cult leaders, dictating their own preferences, twisting the Word of God and accountable to no one in "THEIR" church. Accountability to one another is biblical, and of course, CHRIST is THE AUTHORITY that all Christians are accountable to....unfortunately, those pastors who abuse their stewardship call themselves "Bible Believers" too.

William Dudding said...

I know! How about "Missional Christ follower!" Just kidding. We could do this all day long!

Matt and Anonymous, I get ya, Amen!