Beware we who lead!
We can unknowingly hinder the spread of the gospel. You could describe the danger with a single word, “control.”
Leaders control doctrine, resources and the use of other people’s time (read that as “church programs”). We mean well, but things don’t always turn out so good. A brief look at history brings light to the table. The 1st Century gospel spread faster in Syria and Turkey than in Jerusalem or Rome.
Why? Because the leaders in Jerusalem and Rome had less control in those places.
Acts 1:8 would never have happened without the rise of persecution described in Acts 8:1. It was then that the gospel spread beyond Judea to Samaria and seemingly far-flung places like Cyprus and Antioch. There are still congregations in Syria that claim roots going back to the church planted in Acts 11.
The drivers were missionary thinkers (apostles, or at least apostolic leaders). Then came the rise of hierarchy and centralized leadership. The rise of bishops and theologians slowed and institutionalized growth during the 2nd Century.
The gospel got a reprieve during the 3rd Century—in the form of persecution.
Persecution slowed 3rd Century institutionalism.
Then came Constantine, social acceptance and the renewed rise of hierarchy. I’m not opposed to hierarchy. I’ve been part of one. My problem is with the way we wield control. It is often dangerous.
Take doctrine for instance.
I believe I am right most of the time. No, make that all the time. Except for a nagging thought that maybe I’m not really the fourth member of the trinity. And, just maybe, not everything I believe to be true actually is.
Then there are resources and people’s time. I, like most everyone in know, have put church programs ahead of people’s well-being. Have you?
Some have stolen church funds, but that’s not an issue here. But what about misuse of money that could have extended the gospel or fed the poor but went into a nice fountain on a church campus?
In his book, Ephesiology: A Study of the Ephesian Movement, Michael Cooper wrote, “A missiologically theocentric movement determined to fulfill God’s mission is a target for spiritual warfare. There is nothing that Satan would like more than to see the efforts of the spread of the gospel reduced to an institution.
Oops, that’s a real danger that we often overlook.
In the end, any church multiplication network, or movement, must be more about God than about people.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV. If it ain’t about reconciling people to their creator through acts of love, friendship and grace maybe it’s superfluous – including roles I’ve played. How about you?
In the end we should see ourselves as player/coaches rather than team managers if we are to be sure we’re not hindering the very thing we give our lives for. So, am I the boy crying wolf, or what? We’d love to see your comments below…
For a short, sharable version of this click on https://youtu.be/_pjKxHVRcZA