When is a local church too big for its own good?
This is a question that has been asked for many years. Yet, is there a specific answer?
As far as specifics, there really are none. Yet, if we look at the role and qualifications of a Biblical Pastor, we can see that the role is somewhat self limiting.
What do you mean by self-limiting?
The Church has been, and continues to be, plagued by a dastardly concept called, “Mission Creep.” Mission Creep is a military term and is used to describe extra roles which were not part of the original plan. Merriam Webster's Dictionary has this definition:
: the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization
If you are a Bible Believing Christian, that definition may sound all too familiar - even in the professing “church” today. Note the use of “air quotes” to denote my satire regarding this issue. Much of the 21st century church does not look at all like the intended purpose of the church; a purpose founded upon Scripture, not society!
As the church has followed the physical needs of men, and the planet, she has forgotten, even forsaken, the very Lord who bought her.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
- 2 Peter 2:1
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
- Acts 20:28
The role of a Pastor is to shepherd the flock. He is to shepherd the flock that he has been given by God. What is needed? Rather than all of the programs which are running rampant in the church, he must feed them with the Word of God. Let me also add that the Word must be properly divided - looking for what it is saying, rather than twisting it to conform to the needs of the people. The Word itself is sufficient for the sanctification of a Christian. We need not add anything to it.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
- 2 Timothy 4:1-4
We have all heard Paul’s admonition to Timothy. But do we heed it? It is, after all, the necessary food that a Christian needs. Other things will actually be detrimental to a Christian’s health.
Pastor: Get back to preaching and teaching the full counsel of God’s Word! That is what you are called to do. Stop the foolishness of latching onto “every wind and wave of doctrine” that comes down the road.
Parishioner: Are you in a church where the Word of God has been replaced, or in the process of being replaced? Why don’t you prayerfully ask your Pastor why he does not abide by, and teach the Bible? If he will not answer, perhaps you need to find a truly Bible based ministry. I know that is becoming increasingly more difficult, but your spiritual well being is that important.
The Lord Jesus Christ commended the Church in Ephesus, in Revelation 2, for their good works. Yet, he also had a stern warning for it, as well:
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
- Revelation 2:4
They had left their first love! Rather than focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ, who had forgiven them of their sins, they turned their focus upon human needs.
Does this look at all familiar? Oh, I think all too familiar!
Churches, even those considered to be Bible believing ones, have set their standards not on God's Word, but upon their own good works (We'll save the plight of many "so called" churches that have totally abandoned the Lord for another time).
You can walk in, hear good old spiritual music, even hear a Biblically based sermon. Yet, rather than being exhorted, comforted, and motivated by the finished work of Christ, one is pushed to work. This is the essence of legalism. Legalism does not have to be of the “Don’t drink, don’t smoke” vein, but is any type of righteousness that would supersede the imputed righteousness of Christ.
Good works are indeed a good thing. Yet, they are the fruit of salvation, not the root.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
- Revelation 2:5-6
The Ephesian Church had fallen from remembering the Good News and had looked inwardly, rather than outwardly to Jesus. The first works they had was a simple belief of the Truth.
Even Jesus' own disciples asked the most important question:
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
- John 6:27-29
The answer for the church today is to get back to the basics: the Word of God, and the Work of God. These alone are sufficient for a Biblically healthy ministry.