When the wave of the tsunami flows back to sea you are left with destruction. If you walk through the muck and look closely you can start to understand the ruinous conditions wrecked upon the landscape. I’ve looked. Two days ago I wrote The Tsunami of Jack Schaap and I can’t believe what I see. This post has nothing to do with Mr. Schaap per se, but what is going on in Independent Baptist churches.
Two hideous things jump out. First, people who love the Lord and desperately want to do right are at a complete loss with how to handle an abusive pastor. My wife and I have received calls and emails asking, “what can we do?” The answers aren’t easy. As a pastor, I know you don’t want to make petty criticism fashionable. You know the type–that’s the wrong color of paint, that’s a stupid song to sing, that’s an inferior way to illustrate that point, or even it’s criminal to have a service at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. We pastors can take a little abuse too!
But pastors becoming enraged, engaging in verbal battles, and threatening their church members is epidemic. Of course there are many wonderful pastors serving selflessly. I know some of them. On the other hand, we’ve heard stories of chest bumping, yelling, and threatening to have you shunned. I am well aware of troublemakers, but I am referring to people who are torn because they fear hurting the church and hurting others while knowing that type of pastoral behavior is unreasonable and unchristian. It should be dealt with, but how?
I’m still thinking it through, how to balance pettiness and real issues. I imagine the answer lies in the Biblical qualifications of a pastor (1 Timothy 3). Things like “brawling” are sufficient to opening the discussion of a man being disqualified to pastor. As it is now, it seems “husband of one wife” is the only one that counts. The Bible, however, makes no such distinction. If a real qualification is breached, it must be dealt with. If it’s something less than a stated Biblical qualification, let it go. Lord, give us wisdom.
The other rotten thing that I see is the treatment some wives, particularly pastor’s wives, are enduring. Tyrants at church are likely ruthless at home. There are reasons some of these wives so rarely smile. The keep the stiff upper lip as they have been told they will be guilty of destroying the husband’s ministry and shaming the family. It’s manipulative and dishonest, but some ladies are rather selfless and take it for the others. Even when the scandal breaks out, some have the audacity of blaming them! (BTW, anyone who blames Cindy Schaap in the current scandal is far out of bounds).
Even if you, as I, think highly of the office of the pastor, we must honor it further. We must not sully its call, nor corrupt its beauty. We must hold it accountable to protect its great honor. And may God help us.
(My wife, Alicia, has written something to help the ladies in light of the response these blog posts have had. I encourage you to read what she has to say. Alicia’s blog post).