Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One More Time

Please indulge me for once again posting this clip of my favorite hymn. The video is nothing special, but the audio is wonderful. Thank you Charles Wesley for penning this so many years ago. I love it!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Twenty Books That Have Deeply Impacted My Life

I'm guessing that you like to read. So do I. The following are twenty books that have, for one reason or another, had a significant impact upon me. This is simply a list; if you'd like me to expand on why any particular book had its impact, please ask in the comments. Additionally, if you like you can comment leaving your own list of books that have changed you.

In alphabetical order by title:

Christ in the Passover, by Ceil and Moishe Rosen

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J.I. Packer

Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence, by Preston Sprinkle

The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis

The Holiness of God, by R.C. Sproul

House Church: Simple-Strategic-Scriptural, by Steve Atkerson

How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil, by D.A. Carson

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will, by Kevin DeYoung

I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris

Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions, by John Piper

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

The Myth of Adolescence: Raising Responsible Children in an Irresponsible Society, by David Alan Black

Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, by Frank Viola and George Barna

The Pilgrim Church, by E.H. Broadbent

The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan

The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God, by John Piper

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity, by Frank Viola

Through the Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot

To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, by Courtney Anderson

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus' Vision for Authentic Christian Community, by Joseph Hellerman

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Listing the 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign

Below is a complete list of all my posts in the series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.

Reason #1 - Professional Pastors Propagate the Clergy/Laity Divide
Reason #2 - Professional Pastors Take Jesus Christ's Spot as Senior Pastor
Reason #3 - Professional Pastors Turn Gatherings Into Performance-Oriented Shows
Reason #4 - Professional Pastors' Salaries Place a Massive Financial Burden Upon the Church
Reason #5 - Professional Pastors' Sermons Put People in the Pews to Sleep
Reason #6 - Professional Pastors Cannot Be Fully Accepted Members of the Body
Reason #7 - Professional Pastors' Sermons Are Thought of As Special Messages from God
Reason #8 - Professional Pastors Get Confused With Biblical Elders
Reason #9 - Professional Pastors Lead Almost Everything, Taking Opportunities From Others
Reason #10 - Professional Pastors Can Easily Abuse Power
Reason #11 - Professional Pastors Stay Largely Cloistered, Not In Full Contact With the Real World
Reason #12 - Professional Pastors Suggest That Payment Should Be Given For Service
Reason #13 - Professional Pastors' Long Sermon Prep Implies That The Bible Is Extremely Complicated
Reason #14 - Professional Pastors Are Placed on a Pedestal by the People
Reason #15 - Professional Pastors Preach Tithing In Order to Get the People to Give Enough to Pay Their Salaries
Reason #16 - Professional Pastors Keep the People in "Feed Me" Mode
Reason #17 - Professional Pastors Imply That Churches Need "Experts" to Lead Them
Reason #18 - Professional Pastors Keep Money From Going to the Poor and Needy
Reason #19 - Professional Pastors Should Get Real Jobs That Provide Goods or Services
Reason #20 - Professional Pastors' Salaries Give the Message That the Church Should Spend Money on Itself
Reason #21 - Professional Pastors Turn Church Family Gatherings Into "Worship" Ceremonies
Reason #22 - Professional Pastors Allow and Encourage the People to be Spectators
Reason #23 - Professional Pastors Are, In Fact, Professionals
Reason #24 - Professional Pastors Tell the Church That the Biblical Model for Church Life is Unimportant
Reason #25 - Professional Pastors Force Jesus Christ Into the Background

Monday, March 23, 2015

25 Reasons Summary

As followers of Jesus Christ we want to see His church grow and thrive. We desire to see a healthy church that impacts society for the better. We hope to see a special people stand out for Christ for all the right reasons. Above all, we strive to honor Christ together as we help one another grow closer to Him.

A healthy church is a maturing church. Each member of the body is necessary for the whole to reach its potential. Anything that hinders body growth and body life should be cast aside. As the family of God, we have the joy and privilege of being active agents for Jesus Christ. We do this most effectively as a group. While salvation is individual in nature, body life is most certainly communal. Churches can be what God wants them to be when the people work as one to do the things God wants. Simply put, we all need each other.

Despite generally good intentions, professional pastors hinder body life and growth. For all the reasons I've listed in this series, they harm the church, forcing it into a passive mode of being. Salaried pastors come in between the people and their Lord, taking away many of the privileges that all the people should enjoy. Because of these things, the church as a whole ought to reject the entire concept of pastors as professionals. Instead, the body does much better to recognize elders who are already part of the family.

The church will see an immediate increase in spiritual vitality if it will do away with the professional pastorate. I hope this happens in my lifetime.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reason #25 - Professional Pastors Force Jesus Christ Into the Background

Of all twenty-five reasons in this series, this one is the most problematic. While the bible shows us that Jesus Christ is the one and only head of his church, professional pastors push him into the background.

Of course, they don't truly force Jesus into the background because nothing in the universe could do that to our sovereign Lord. However, the very existence of professional pastors forces Jesus out of the way in the eyes of the people in the pews. Many Christians look to pastors for leadership more than they look to Christ.

This problem is closely related to professional pastors taking Jesus' spot as senior pastor and professional pastors being placed on a pedestal by the people.

As Christians, our entire belief system is wrapped up in one person: Jesus Christ. He is everything. I'm not denigrating the Trinity in any way in saying this. Our God is the three-in-one who is difficult to comprehend with our finite minds. While God is all, Jesus Christ is all as well. Christ is the head and we are the body. We are all equally needed parts, while he is the supreme leader. He points the way, and we all follow. He lovingly and sacrificially gave himself for us at Calvary so we would live for him.

Professional pastors cloud this beautiful picture by coming in between the people and their Lord. The pastor tells the people what to think, what to do, and how to act. The folks dutifully believe because he is the expert from the outside. Quite frankly, professional pastors are little different from Roman Catholic priests.

As the body of Christ, we need a clear, unobstructed view of Jesus. Anything that gets in our way must be done away with. The professional pastorate is a good place to start.

(This post is the final installment in 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reason #24 - Professional Pastors Tell the Church That the Biblical Model for Church Life is Unimportant

Every good Christian teacher points to scripture over and over. The bible must be the source of any instruction that occurs within the life of the church. Most pastors consider themselves to be teachers (they had better). At least within evangelicalism in the USA, pastors do a fairly solid job of pointing people back to scripture again and again while preaching and/or teaching. This is certainly a generalization, but it is one I believe to be true.

When it comes to teaching about the gospel itself, most pastors look to the bible to lead all they say. While the gospel may be presented in somewhat different ways (for example, John 3 versus John 4), the key content remains the same. We all find this content in the bible. I give pastors credit for staying true to scriptural teachings on salvation.

Something weird happens when most pastors begin teaching about the church. They abandon many of the principles of biblical interpretation that they use for understanding and teaching the gospel. Most pastors take into consideration everything the bible has to say about salvation.

When it comes to the church pastors ignore much. In particular, they act as if what we read about church life is simply description. The scriptures certainly tell us much about how we are to live. Some of this is in the form of exhortation, but some comes in the form of narrative. While narrative may be descriptive, some of it also has prescriptive authority.

I'm convinced of the prescriptive nature of the New Testament church narrative for one primary reason. That reason is that the apostles were present as active participants in the early church. If anyone knew what Jesus expects and demands from the life of his people, it would be the apostles. A few years ago I wrote a piece entitled On the Importance of Apostolic Presence that explains my reasoning in detail.

The form of church life we see around us today deviates a great deal from what we see in scripture. Professional pastors have a large part to play in this. Through their piecemeal teaching about the church, pastors are telling the church that the biblical model for church life is unimportant.

Pastors are not being fair in how they interpret and teach the bible. They use strikingly different principles for their teaching on the gospel versus their teaching on the church. This is incredibly irresponsible. Not only is their teaching faulty, but they are offering to the people a confusing manner of how they should understand scripture as they study it for themselves.

This interpretive mess would largely disappear if the professionalism of the pastorate disappeared. Let's hope it happens today.

(The above is section twenty-four of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reason #23 - Professional Pastors Are, In Fact, Professionals

The title of this post borders on redundancy. That was purposeful on my part.

Professional pastors by definition are professionals. They do certain things and receive payment for doing them. Very few of these men would continue to do those same things if they weren't paid (they might want to do them, but they wouldn't have time since they'd be working a regular job).

When a pastor begins his time at a church he signs some sort of contract. The church agrees to provide him with a certain package (salary, insurance, retirement, etc.) while he agrees to preach, baptize, marry, bury, visit, etc. The pastor supplies the services while the church supplies the money. It is a clear agreement between two parties.

What I've described above is the definition of a professional.

It ought not be this way. Scripture shows us churches free of this sort of professionalism. Elders (as opposed to modern-style pastors) were men who were simply part of the body. They were recognized for what they already were: godly individuals who were growing to be more Christlike while helping others do the same. These men may have received some financial gifts from time to time, but nothing in the bible suggests that they ever received salaries for their actions.

Well-known author John Piper has written a book entitled Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. The book is directed to pastors. I enjoyed reading it; it's well-written and thought out. However, and this is a big however, Piper is wrong in the very title of the book. The fact is that professional pastors are, in fact, professionals.

Today is a great day for all professional pastors to resign. The church will benefit greatly from turning to a biblical model of elders and away from salaried experts.

(This is part twenty-three of my blog series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day celebration is one of the biggest in the country. The city's population swells from about 250,000 to close to 1 million for the day. Somehow I've never managed to attend the parade - until today. My daughter Mary and I are hoping to grab a good spot along the parade route for this wild and crazy event. It should be lots o' fun!

Below are two St. Patrick themed videos for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Reason #22 - Professional Pastors Allow and Encourage the People to be Spectators

The church we see in the New Testament was active.

Was the N.T. church perfect? By no means. However, they generally lived out active lives for Christ. Part of this stems from all the one-another exhortations that we read in the epistles. This, in turn, comes from Jesus' teachings, such as those we see in the Sermon on the Mount. While Christ expects us to take spiritual rest in him, he also wants us to impact the world through his revolutionary priorities.

In light of the above, it seems that today's pastors would do all they could to inspire an active church. However, the opposite is actually the case. Professional pastors lead weekly ceremonies that keep the people locked and quiet. The folks in the pews are not encouraged to speak whatsoever; they aren't even supposed to move except to stand and sing. This entire situation brings about what we would expect: a passive church. The salaried men up front not only allow this, but also encourage it. If they thought it was a terrible thing (which it is), then they would certainly do something to change it.

But would they do something to change it? Since most people in the church have learned passivity through the years, they now expect it. The status quo is that the pastor will lead worship services. He will be the active one while the people sit silently. This is one of the main things the pastor gets paid for. Therefore, his paycheck depends on his encouraging passivity in the people. If he actually challenges this system, he could find himself on the unemployment line. He's not going to do that.

What we have in place is a largely quiet, dull, uninspiring church that lacks impact upon society. The laity have become spectators. The pastors lead the show. Week after week the church sits in a stupor while the paid experts lead the performance from the stage. This sad, pathetic situation will not change with salaried pastors in place. Therefore, they must resign. How about today?

(This is post twenty-two of the series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reason #21 - Professional Pastors Turn Church Family Gatherings Into "Worship" Ceremonies

It's Sunday morning right now. Many church bodies in this country will gather today. A small percentage will get together like big families. The vast majority, however, will spend much of their time in a repetitious ceremony.

I'm not sure where the term "worship service" originated (if you know please leave your answer in the comments section). A more appropriate term would be "Christianesque ceremony." Instead of churches gathering to strengthen the body through mutual edification, they meet to perform basically the same ceremony week after week. Professional pastors stand at the epicenter of this phenomenon.

Salaried pastors receive their salary in large part because they preach. Monologue style preaching does not work as part of family get-togethers. Instead, this type of pastoral performance only works in ceremonies. Thus worship services rule the day in most churches.

When we look in the bible we don't find anything that looks like modern worship services. Instead, we see the body of Christ come together informally for the mutual upbuilding of the whole. The individual parts carry out the one anothers and use their areas of gifting to strengthen the entire family. It is a beautiful picture. This is what the church needs much more of today.

Professional pastors stand in the way of mutual edification. The reason is that they have to preach in order to get paid, and preaching only fits with a ceremonial atmosphere. Therefore, salaried pastors must resign. They must resign now.

(This is part twenty-one of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reason #20 - Professional Pastors' Salaries Give the Message That the Church Should Spend Money on Itself

What do today's churches generally spend money on?

The answer is a simple and profound three-headed monster: pastors, buildings, and programs. The vast majority of most church budgets go toward covering these three things. The budgets themselves may seem more complicated than this, and in detail they probably are. However, when looking at the big picture it is clear that a huge percentage of the funds are used to pay for the salaries of the pastor(s), building mortgage and upkeep, and a wide variety of programs.

What's wrong with this situation?

What's wrong is that Jesus himself instructed his followers to give to meet the needs of others.

When the church spends most of its money on itself, it is disobeying Christ's command to help those who cannot help themselves. Putting a check in an offering plate, knowing that it will largely go toward pastors, buildings, and programs, does not exactly conform to Jesus' wishes.

Professional pastors sit right at the heart of this sordid situation. They actually take home more money from the church than goes to meet the needs of those who have no where else to turn. As a salaried pastor myself, I always felt weird putting a check in the offering plate, knowing that some of that same money would come back to me in the form of a paycheck. The longer I toiled as pastor the worse I felt.

When pastors accept a paycheck for services rendered, they give the message to the entire church family that it is just fine for the church to spend most of its money on itself. It ought not be this way.

Professional pastor friends, please resign today. The message you will send will be a blessed one.

(The above is part twenty of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reason #19 - Professional Pastors Should Get Real Jobs That Provide Goods or Services

Generally speaking, pastors are able-bodied men who are capable of working a job. In light of this, they should do so.

Normal jobs provide a good, a service, or both to society at large in return for payment. Having a normal job is beneficial for all men (and some women, but that topic is for another day). Professional pastors actually hurt themselves by not having regular employment.

Working a regular job keeps men in touch with the normal hum of society.

Working a regular job reminds those doing it that it is often a struggle.

Working a regular job, when the job is a noble one, adds to society.

Working a regular job means the church won't have to pay the pastor (and thus more money can go to the poor and needy).

Working a regular job helps the pastor better understand the people of the church.

Working a regular job keeps the pastor in regular touch with unbelievers.

Working a regular job makes the pastor at least fairly normal.

Working a regular job keeps the pastor from irrelevancy.

Most of my posts so far in this series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign have focused on the damage that salaried pastors are doing to the church. This particular post is different. The reality is that professional pastors are damaging themselves by being employed by churches. For their own sake and that of the body of Christ, they must resign now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reason #18 - Professional Pastors Keep Money From Going to the Poor and Needy

Simple math: a church has a finite amount of money to spend.

If a local body decides to pay a pastor a salary, then a large portion of the money taken in is already gone. A pastor's "package" may cost the church $50,000 per year (maybe more, maybe less). That means that the believers in that church have to give over 50 grand for any money to go toward anything else.

Of course, a local body that pays a pastor likely also has to pay for a large building. There goes the next massive chunk. So before any money can be spent on anything else, the pastor and the mortgage company must be paid.

The simple math is that if a church pays a pastor a salary, then it has far less money to give to those who truly need it: the poor and needy. When we look in the bible, we see numerous exhortations to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. We see in scripture the church give its money away to those who have little to no means of making money of any kind. The poor and needy can be those inside the church or outside.

The sick irony is that most pastors are, in fact, quite capable of working real jobs to support themselves and their families. They do not qualify as "the poor and needy." I quit as a professional pastor and have held down a regular job for four years. It is not, as they say, "rocket science."

Professional pastors ought to all resign immediately because they are keeping money from going to the poor and needy. It is as simple as that.

(This is post eighteen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reason #17 - Professional Pastors Imply That Churches Need "Experts" to Lead Them

When institutional churches search for a new pastor they look for someone with a bible college or seminary degree.

When men want to be pastors they go to bible college or seminary.

Why do these things happen?

The reason is that most Christians believe that they need "experts" to lead them. Instead of looking to their own church family for elders, they instead almost always turn to outside "experts" with advanced degrees to be the next pastor. This occurs across denominational lines. The vast majority of new pastoral appointments are men who have never had previous contact with the particular body they are to lead. The churches look less at I Timothy 3 guidelines than they do at what degree a person has. Salaries are even partially based on what theological level a person has attained. For example, men with doctorates are the most expensive.

The above is understandable from a secular perspective. However, the church is not secular in nature, and therefore ought not follow a secular model. The church has no need of theological "experts" from outside. It only needs look inward for godly men already in its midst.

Professional pastors: please resign today and encourage the church to cease looking for leadership from outside "experts."

(This is post seventeen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reason #16 - Professional Pastors Keep the People in "Feed Me" Mode

Pastors generally preach with good intent. It is the outcome that is the problem.

Week after week, pastors speak to a silent audience for 20-45 minutes. The pastor speaks while the people sit. He makes sounds while they keep quiet. He tells them what to think and they believe it. He does the studying and they do the ingesting. He dutifully preaches his heart out and they dutifully listen as long as they can.

This is strictly one-way communication.

The problem is that this puts people in "feed me" mode and keeps them there.

While people may enjoy listening to weekly sermons, they have learned to rely on the pastor for their theological knowledge. This in turn keeps them childlike in their ability to study scripture. Many, many American Christians have an elementary knowledge and understanding of the bible. This is a sad state indeed and is one of the primary reasons why the church in the USA has so little impact upon society.

"Feed me" mode is corrupting and must stop. The immediate resignation of all professional pastors would go a long way toward causing this to happen.

Let's hope it does.

(This post is part sixteen of my series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reason #15 - Professional Pastors Preach Tithing In Order to Get the People to Give Enough to Pay Their Salaries

Institutional churches have to take in a certain amount of money to pay for their primary expenses: building costs and pastoral salaries. This is often a challenge for churches. In order to deal with this situation, many pastors resort to preaching about the tithe.

The main problem with this is that the tithe is an Old Covenant concept that has absolutely no application for those who are part of the New Covenant. Jesus Christ never told His followers to pay the tithe (in Matthew 23:23 Jesus is speaking to Pharisees, not believers). Acts through Revelation shows not even one instance of Christians paying the tithe.

Let me repeat: Christians do not have to pay a tithe.

For pastors to preach that Christ-followers must pay the tithe is a massive error. The interpretive gymnastics it requires boggle the mind. Even if they could state with a straight face that the tithe is binding, they then would need to say that payment goes for temple upkeep in Jerusalem (of course there is no temple, but I digress). Instead, pastors then say that this tithe should be paid to the local church, not in farm goods such as wheat but in cold, hard cash.

The irresponsibility of this type of hermeneutical manipulation is staggering. Pastors who do it should be ashamed. They do not interpret the rest of the bible in this manner.

One way to stop this sad situation is to have churches stop paying salaries for pastors. That would likely do away immediately with most tithe-preaching.

(The above is part fifteen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reason #14 - Professional Pastors Are Placed on a Pedestal by the People

Whether they like it or not, pastors are almost always placed on a metaphorical pedestal by the people of the church.

When I worked as a pastor I felt this every day. Many people treated me as if I was pseudo-royalty. They spoke to me with an odd sort of reverence (I suppose I was a "reverend"). It all felt bizarre, and I was never comfortable with it.

In I Corinthians 12 we read that every member of the body matters. Additionally, those who we might think are less important are actually, according to Paul, worthy of more honor. Paul never suggests that pastors should be treated as more special than the remainder of the people.

The church has one head; his name is Jesus Christ. He does not share this position with anyone else. Since that's the case, pastors should not be placed where only Jesus belongs: on a pedestal.

Greatness within God's kingdom is reserved for servants. Those placed on pedestals (except Jesus) are the opposite of servants. They are being served instead of serving. This may not be pastors' intent, but it is reality.

The phenomenon of pastors on pedestals is even worse at theological conferences. This is where superstar pastors are treated like movie stars (for example here, here, and here). I've seen it a few times, and it's disturbing.

In the end, pastors on pedestals harms both the church and the pastor. One simple way to do away with this problem is to eliminate professional pastors from the equation. This will occur if they all resign permanently. Let's hope it happens today.

(This post is part fourteen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Reason #13 - Professional Pastors' Long Sermon Prep Implies That The Bible Is Extremely Complicated

An odd competition of sorts exists among some pastors over who can spend the most time preparing sermons. Some of them literally spend over 20 (!) hours on each lecture. On the surface this might seem like a good thing; at least they will be prepared. However, is this truly good? Does it benefit the church body to realize that the pastor has spent hour upon hour getting ready to give his weekly monologue(s)?

I contend that it is not a good thing. The reason is that pastors are inadvertently giving the church the message that the bible is extremely complicated. This is why they have to spend hour after hour studying. This, in turn, sends the message to the folks in the pews that they will need to study for hours to comprehend scripture. The massive negative consequence in all this is that it actually discourages people from trying to understand the bible for themselves. They then just wait for the pastor to teach them on Sundays.

The real reason pastors spend hours preparing is that on Sundays what they are doing is giving a performance. They are expected to speak, uninterrupted, for an extended time. They are also expected to be engaging, interesting, and sometimes funny. This takes preparation.

If pastors were simply teaching an informal class they could spend far less time on it.

The irony of all this is that most pastors hope that their sermons will inspire the people to study scripture for themselves. However, their long sermon prep actually has the opposite effect.

Professional pastors: please resign right now. Your presence and actions are causing significant damage to the body of Christ every day. Quit, get a real job, and become a normal member of the flock. You will never regret your decision.

(This is post thirteen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reason #12 - Professional Pastors Suggest That Payment Should Be Given For Service

Professional Pastors by definition receive a salary. This salary comes in exchange for services rendered. The problem with this arrangement is that both the pastor and the church are strongly implying that payment should be given for any service done for anyone else.

When we look in scripture we see many exhortations to serve others. Jesus Christ himself was the ultimate server. Throughout his ministry he gave of himself constantly. Our Lord took care of need after need after need. He, of course, had supernatural abilities that the rest of us do not have. However, we are not expected to heal people's illnesses. What Jesus was doing was providing a model for us of serving free of charge. Jesus never expected any money from the folks he helped.

As we move through the rest of the New Testament we find numerous encouragements and commands to the church to serve others sacrificially. This is one of the marks of the body of Christ that makes it unique. The world offers services for payment. This is not an evil in and of itself; for example, I receive a paycheck for performing my daily duties at JCB. That said, we followers of Jesus are not expected to ever give of ourselves in the name of Christ for payment of any kind.

The problem of pastors serving in exchange for a paycheck stems back the modern church's idea that pastors are professionals. They ought not be. No where in the bible is it indicated that pastors are a set apart, special class that gets to receive money for doing for others. This is a man-made phenomenon.

If modern churches were to be consistent, they should give paychecks to anybody in the church who serves anybody else. I imagine that would increase the amount of service going on (sarcasm alert).

To sum up, the church sends a dangerous message when it gives paychecks to pastors. Pastors are irresponsible in accepting them. Their message is loud and clear: service demands payment. This should be sickening to the body of Christ.

(This is post twelve as part of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Sad Day for Blogger.com

I've been using Blogger since 2007, and never have I been more saddened by the company.

Yesterday I received the following notice from Blogger:

An update on the Blogger porn content policy

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy stating that blogs that distributed sexually explicit images or graphic nudity would be made private.

We’ve received lots of feedback about making a policy change that impacts longstanding blogs, and about the negative impact this could have on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities.

We appreciate the feedback. Instead of making this change, we will be maintaining our existing policies.

Blogger was apparently considering doing away with people's ability to use Blogger for public porn blogs. Sadly, after whatever feedback they received Blogger has decided to allow porn after all. This is a sad statement on both Blogger and our culture as a whole.

If I was more techno savvy I would probably switch to Wordpress or something else.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reason #11 - Professional Pastors Stay Largely Cloistered, Not In Full Contact With the Real World

What does a typical salaried pastor's day look like?

He spends some time reading in his office.

He visits some sick church members at the hospital.

He plans for the upcoming worship service(s).

He performs various administrative tasks.

He prepares for the next sermon.

He talks on the phone with church members.

He meets with fellow pastors for coffee.

He counsels in his office with church members.

None of the above activities are wrong in and of themselves. All probably need to be done in the life of the institutional church. However, all of the above focus on the church itself. The pastor spends much of his time alone in his office looking at books. When he is out of the building, his attention is aimed almost solely upon church members.

What professional pastors are missing is contact with the real world. I'm not referring to the occasional "Thank you" said to someone behind the counter at McDonald's. I'm talking about meaningful interaction out in the real world; this is what helps keep Christians from becoming irrelevant. It's where we are quickly reminded about the world's desperate need for the gospel.

Many times pastors seem sort of pointless. Even people within the institutional church joke about pastors not doing real work or working only one day per week. These jokes have a ring of reality to them because they are basically true.

Professional pastors need to resign from their positions and get out into the real world. If they need a job they can call me. In fact, I'm about to leave for work right now. I'll be in the real world all day long.

(This post is part of the blog series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reason #10 - Professional Pastors Can Easily Abuse Power

I firmly believe that most professional pastors do not abuse power.

Please allow me to repeat myself: I firmly believe that most professional pastors do not abuse power.

The big problem is that professional pastors are placed in positions where it is relatively easy to abuse power. They are elevated above the rest of the church family. They make most of the decisions. They perform most of what are considered the "sacred duties." Their sermons are viewed as special communication from God. They lead just about everything.

Ultimately, salaried pastors take Jesus' spot as senior pastor. Because of this situation, these men are in prime position to abuse power.

The irony in all this is that having power does not correspond to greatness within the Kingdom of God. Rather, it is servanthood that makes someone great. According to Jesus, leadership and service go hand-in-hand. The only person with power in the church is Jesus Christ himself.

As for professional pastors, they ought to resign today for multiple reasons. One of these is that the jobs they hold place them in situations where abuse of power is fairly easy. This temptation must go away now.

(This post is the tenth part of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Reason #9 - Professional Pastors Lead Almost Everything, Taking Opportunities From Others

Who stands up front?

Who opens and closes with prayer?

Who does the preaching?

Who baptizes?

Who performs marriages?

Who speaks at funerals?

Who dedicates babies?

Who makes big decisions?

Who leads almost everything?

Within most institutional churches professional pastors lead in just about every way. This appears to be a sort of co-dependant relationship between the people and the pastor. Both parties expect it. He will be at the forefront of just about everything.

The pastor may or may not like this relationship. Frankly, he may very well be exhausted by it. Nevertheless, this is part of what he is paid to do. Therefore, he must lead at just about every occasion that the church gets together. This includes both special occasions and normal ones. The pastor doesn't get a break, and the people don't get an opportunity.

Many members of the church have never led in any way, shape, or form. Part of this is because they have never been given the opportunity. Part of it is because they expect the pastor to do it. And part of it comes from never having been asked to consider it. Since the pastor leads everything, he inadvertently (or purposefully) takes opportunities away from the rest of the church family.

Professional pastors should resign today from their positions because they are keeping the remainder of the church body from exercising leadership in their areas of gifting. This stifles the life of the church and keeps it from maturing.

(This post is part nine in the series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reason #8 - Professional Pastors Get Confused With Biblical Elders

Some disagreement exists within Christianity over whether or not elders and pastors had overlapping roles in scripture. Put simply, the question is whether or not elders and pastors were essentially the same.

That being said, there can be no doubt that the elders we read of in the New Testament are far different from today's professional pastors. When we look in the book of Acts and various epistles we see elders as godly men of the body who are simply recognized as being what they already are: those of Christian maturity who are helping others along that same path. However, modern pastors are largely paid experts from outside the body who are brought in to lead through decision making, lecturing, and program planning.

Despite these differences, many Christians believe that what we see today in the pulpit is what the bible speaks about. If you ask Christians to point out pastors in the New Testament, they will likely turn to passages dealing with elders (or possibly overseers). For example, when discussing qualifications, the passage that gets the most attention is I Timothy 3. However, that section of scripture talks about overseers, not pastors. In fact, the term pastor is rarely used in the New Testament.

I Peter chapter 5 does mention all three (elder, overseer, pastor), but even in that case the idea of pastoring has very little in common with what most professional pastors do today. To pastor is to shepherd. This has little to do with monologue sermonizing or planning the next Christmas program.

The church (at least here in the USA) is confused about what biblical elders are. Having professional pastors claim to be elders is a sham. The two are markedly different. To help clarify this situation, all professional pastors ought to resign today. If that occurred, the church might be forced to ask itself what elders actually are. Questions of that sort, while uncomfortable for many, sometimes lead to great improvements.

(This post is part eight of the series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign).