We received the following email from a pastor.
I believe you are 'dead on' in your observations of church leadership; what it was in scriptural practice, verses what it has become today.
Truly, the 'establshed churches' only seem to desire to 'control' the masses and do not seem to want to relinquish authority or power, let alone 'ordain' lay people for ministry. It is ironic that it is the lay people, the Body of Christ, who are REALLY supposed to be operating in the gifts and growing the church by their testimonies and witness in the "mission fields' they have been placed, but are not being given godly direction by those who oversee them.
They are the ones who are equipped with the culture, language and trust of the people and places the Lord has planted them. The local Pastor could never hope to reach the varied and diverse groups with God's word that his congregation is already familiar with and exist in every day. We, as church bodies, have been marginalized by the 'ordained clergy' for too long. We have been taught to pay our tithes, support our missionaries, and let the REAL work of the church be accomplished by church officials. What a tragic loss of resources for the kingdom!
Like you, people are beginning to sense a spiritual calling that exceeds the professional minister's expectations (and sometimes distain) for them. I believe there is a new awakening taking place in the body of Christ all over America, which has long been spiritually idle due to the inability of today's ministers to realize the anointed role of its members. Certainly spiritual training is very important..but when it it raised above anointed body ministry it becomes an empty vessel, slaking the thirst of no one, serving only to puff up those in authority.
John the Baptist was correct when he chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees as being "broods of vipers." The poisoning of bad theology and poor leadership has sapped the church of its strength and effectiveness. Hands performing one on one ministry, like yours in the remotest of places, are tremendously more important than a 'feel good' sermon on Sunday.
We ALL need to be Christ's hands extended, following the leading of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the plan and reach those who God has prepared for our ministry. The only degree we need for that is a degree of dedication to the service of Christ. The TRUE Pastor would recognize that and not be threatened by those who exhibit gifts and use them in the Lord's service. The people need to be mentored and encouraged in their callings, not relegated to becoming comfortable pew warmers who drop dollars into the offering to salve their consciences.
That requires leaders who are spirit-filled and recognize the real dynamics of how the church should be operating...in and through the power of the Spirit.
I believe we are on the cusp of a new awakening. There is a groundswell of 'regular joes' who want to do the kingdom's work but are restrained by the teaching that they are not 'properly trained'. People are questioning, stepping out in faith, forming small prayer powered groups that are beginning to emulate the REAL church. Pity it has to develop outside the very walls where their training should be available to them. But the Spirit will have His way, and I believe, like you, miraculous and wonderful deeds for the kingdom will be performed by seekers such as these.
I do not have a theological degree, but I do have a love and trust in Christ that I see translated into fruit every day, as do many like me. Your writings give me hope that there are those with theological expertise who are willing to teach, nurture and serve those of us who need the direction and encouragement to put our hands to the plow; to plant, water and harvest. We refuse to go to the 'spiritual grocery store' to purchase a pre-packaged godly direction for our gifts.
I pray success and blessings for your continued ministry and so much appreciate the wisdom and clarity of the vision God has given you. You have given me hope today.
With Love and Prayers,