Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thrown Overboard?

In the GARBC Baptist Bulletin article “Concrete Words,” David Whiting of North Baptist Church in Rochester New York, is shown sitting in a rowboat and is quoted as preaching, “You have two options. You can help us row, or you can get out of the boat. There are other very good boats (churches) in our city that may do church in a way that you like better. That’s okay. You can get in their boat. We would send you there with our blessing. You can help row the boat or get out of the boat, but you cannot rock the boat. That is not an option!”

I have no idea from what Bible passage Pastor Whiting was preaching. It strikes me as an unbiblical and definitely unbaptist message.

If he was saying that people should not be divisive, I would agree. We should not just grumble and cause trouble. But Baptist churches have historically believed in congregational church government and that requires freedom for people to disagree (in civil ways) with leadership. It is not for leaders to pronounce major changes to a church and say, "If you don't like it you can leave." Rather, the leaders should say, "This is what we propose and why we believe it is the best course of action. What do you think? Will you support this?"

I believe that the top down model of church leadership is a product of the mega-church movement. It may be a pragmatic necessity for building a mega-church, but what makes it biblical? And what about the people who are thrown overboard?

I like the biblical models:
  • God's field where God gives the increase.
  • God's building where there is only one foundation - Jesus Christ - and everything built on that will be tested by fire.
  • God's temple where the Spirit of God dwells and the wisdom of God trumps the wisdom of this world.
  • God's flock of sheep being led by under-shepherds who lead - but not as "Lords over those entrusted to you, but as examples to the flock." (1Peter 5:3)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen. Also, soul liberty has been a Baptist distinctive which is sadly missing in many churches today.