They speak. We must listen. I have their emails and Facebook messages. They want our issues addressed and changed. While some are just leaving, others are staying but praying God will bring to pass the changes we need to truly glorify Christ and honor His Word.
I could share horror stories one piled upon on another, but instead of sharing our worst, I want to share the thoughtful comments of a godly lady. She stayed, but she is concerned. You can tell she cares deeply about her church. She gave permission for me to share her letter, but only anonymously so as to not shame or hurt her church. I think some of our pastors have trouble seeing it, but this is a great representation of the hearts and minds of the rank and file. Here from the pew:
First, I want to say thank you for your series on Independent Baptist Churches. I am currently a member of one and have had a variety of church experiences. I appreciate that you recommend books, because sometimes church members/attenders would like to read some good books, but they don’t know where to start. I really appreciate when pastors aren’t afraid to ‘add to’ their own preaching/teaching by recommending the thoughts of others, even if they also include a disclaimer.
Secondly, I didn’t want to comment on your recent post, because I was introduced to your blog via a former member, a young man, the son of the patriarchal church family, who went to Bible college, got married and is now a part of another church. He has two brothers connected to our pastor’s family. Although things don’t generally get political and ugly, even during business meetings, it’s a little scary to see how much that family is growing in leadership and influence. All that to say, I didn’t want to post, because it is not my intention to cast a bad light or offend anyone from our church who might follow your blog as well.
I agree that our society has created a selfish, hedonistic generation, and that has been detrimental to the church, but I have also observed that the churches that are growing while remaining Biblical sound are those that are casting off detrimental traditions, using both old and new from ‘the storehouse’, teach what true discipleship is (rather than just going through a curriculum), encourage outreach and church planting (reproduction), preach and teach expositionally and applicationally (often through books of the Bible) and not concerned with having to have an evangelistic (baby food) message on Sunday mornings, trust that people actually do want to know what the Bible says (including comparing other views) and not demonizing certain things that may not be wise but are not sin, etc. I am grateful that our leadership is very missions-minded, does support a local sister church, and has a bus ministry as well as a newly established food pantry, but some of the things you have posted in your series can be found and have been harmful to true spiritual growth.
I can imagine how discouraging pastors must get when they don’t see the results and responses they hope for, but it is really discouraging to hear a pastor express a lack of ‘faith’ and knowledge about what people are doing outside the walls of the church. People have even been made to feel guilty for not attending a small church activity. A good shepherd knows his sheep and the state of his flock; he doesn’t assume the worst. I know he isn’t God— omniscient, omnipresent— and we have a responsibility, too, to the ministry and to each other. I can only imagine the weight pastors carry, and it’s nice when they accept help or trust people with responsibilities, as well as providing the resources and/or authority to do what is needed. That, too, has been an issue, and so another thing that growing churches have is entrusting people to perform the ministry and use the talents with which God has gifted them.
Sorry this is so long. Thank you again for your heart, courage, boldness, and grace. I think your posts have been very balanced, and from the looks of things have been a blessing to many.
God bless! And I mean that. 🙂
_______ from ______
We ignore her, and those like her, at our peril.
Thanks _____. You are overly kind in your words about me, but you spoke eloquently from the pew.
I want to also share what I believe was a widely-read article by Jeff Amsbaugh recently released. He is a much more well-known pastor and blogger than me. I am glad to see it. LINK
Find all articles in the series here.
7 thoughts on “From The Pew (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #21)”
Jimmy thanks for another excellent post and specially for attaching the link to Pastor Amsbaugh’s blog. Tremendous.
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One of the biggest problems I have seen in churches is a “disconnect” between the pastor and the people he is trying to minister to. There are multiple causes for this:
1) They often lead lives that are “insulated” from the experiences that their people (who, it should be remembered are not “their people” but are actually “God’s people”!) face DAILY. This is not to suggest that they should leave “prayer, and… the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4), but that they should recall the challenges they faced in the days BEFORE they entered the ministry, and use this as a “touchstone” as they minister today.
2) They have NO ONE they can converse with freely: a recent survey of “evangelical” pastors (like it or not, we fall into this group) showed that 90% (you read that right, NINETY PERCENT) have NO “close friends”, and if they DO, they are other pastors…who ALSO have no friends OUTSIDE the ministry. A large part of the blame for this situation can be traced back to Bible colleges and seminaries; they often warn against getting “too close” to members of the congregation. There is SOME validity to this position. If you get close BEFORE you can determine whether that person has a “good conscience”, or has an ulterior motive, your position and authority could be compromised, or a “church discipline” situation could be mishandled. But this warning can easily be “overdone”.
3) They have an improper “work/life balance”. Sometimes this is occurs by NECESSITY; smaller churches put much of the “load” on a pastor, and it takes TIME to determine who is faithful and responsible and can then be delegated responsibilities in the church. But that does NOT nullify the Scriptures: Proverbs 11:1 – A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight; and Proverbs 20:23 – Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.
4) A pastor needs a life OUTSIDE of his work, just as WE do. Most simply do not make time for “outside interests”, or hobbies. Those things will HELP him maintain a proper view of the world the congregation sees EVERY day, and provide him with opportunities to make friends OUSIDE the church. And that is a GOOD thing!
5) There is often an EXTREMELY unhealthy preoccupation with “separation”. Both pastor and people can get so tied up in “fruit inspection” that they fail to see the value that EACH PERSON brings into their lives, and the life of the church.
These are excellent points! As you say, I have heard this “insulated” life even taught. Thanks for sharing!
Read all post in one setting and as if read my mind! I am a pastor of an independent baptist church that is one you would appreciate. Needless to say I am the subject of much gossip among other pastors but I don’t care! My joy and friendships come out of a congregation that freely loves God and is not bound by legalism.
Thanks! Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing!
Where do you pastor?