So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Some ALARMING facts...

Yeah...a good friend sent me an e-mail today and mentioned something in passing that I couldn't help but think about. He was saying how he had been to a pastors conference and it seemed like many pastors he had talked to had been run out of churches for being Calvinists (though I'm not sure what exactly that means...I know that biblical theology isn't usually very popular with the proletariat.) Either way, that got me to thinking about some of the “church growth” crap that I’ve been contending with this year, and some of the horribly anti-Christian ideologies about what the defining marks of a ‘healthy’ church are. My train of thought had me going back to conversations I had with some people at my church this past year on that very topic, and I made some observations that Moses and Elijah had an essentially fruitless ministries. As I was thinking today (and actually right now), I started remembering some other ‘shocking’ details of some of the various ministries in the Bible:

- Moses, the pre-eminent leader of the Old Testament, had a congregation that shrank from 6 million to 2 in the span of around 40 years. That’s a congregational decrease of 99.99996%, or fractionally under 411 people per day. Moses essentially folded a medium sized church every single day for 40 years. When I put it like that, pretty much any ministry flop that I ever make will pale by comparison unless I start right now and go NUTS! Can I fold 14,600 medium sized churches in my lifetime? Well, I can do all things through him who strengthens me…Okay. That might have been a slight misapplication of scripture...Either way Moses should have written a book on church growth. I’m guessing it would ‘stick out’ among the modern offerings with strange advice on the subject: Hire your relatives, hide from your congregation with a veil, disappear on a mountain for months at a time and kill any sinners in your midst.

- Elijah, the second ‘big kahuna’ in the Old Testament, wasn’t much more of an beaming example of successful church growth. Make enemies of the national authorities, run away when things get tough, train only 1 person to take over your ministry (though the double portion of spirit is a great idea) and have only 1 lasting convert (the widow at Zarephath…all the other people that ‘turned back to the Lord’ only lasted short while…read 1 Kings 18+19). Beyond all that, Elijah was involved in the deaths of 940 people (840 prophets of Baal/Asherah and the 100 men that the king sent to get him).

- What about Ezekiel? Well, Ezekiel chapters 2&3 sound like a call to ministry in North America; go a preach to a rebellious people that won’t listen to you (Like 3:7 – “But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.”). Talk about a tough calling. He had to preach doom and gloom to his very own people, people whom thought that they were the chosen people of Yahweh (which they were) and that they were ‘untouchable’ (which they were not). He had an essentially fruitless ministry too. Faithful, but no massive revivals or anything.

- Or Jeremiah? Or Micah? Zephaniah? Malachi? Hosea? Nahum? Habakkuk? Zechariah? Amos? Obadiah? Haggai? Joel? Jonah? Pretty much all of those people had fruitless ministries! Well, all but Jonah…Jonah was the only one of those who had some massive conversions. He was instrumental in converting the whole city of Ninevah, though in a typical Old Testament “screw up” in form, he was stinking mad about all his converts. How weird is that?! He has a few hundred thousand converts and he’s all upset!!

- What about New Testament? Well, Jesus had a ministry that had a few hundred people around, but do to teaching ‘too much doctrine’, they all buggered off (check out John 6:60-66). Many other people followed him for a while after this ‘doctrinal washout’, but it only lasted around 2 years. Every single one of his converts eventually left him when he was called to account for his ‘aberrant theology’ before a national church council, and then a supreme court. The whole affair ended up in his imprisonment and eventual execution. I don’t know about you, but prosecution of the senior pastor leading to capitol punishment doesn’t sound like one of the ‘seven habits of a highly effective leader’.

- Or the Apostle Paul? Well, in just one of the churches he started there were divisions and quarrels about spiritual authorities (1 Cor 1:10-17), publicly acknowledge sexually misconduct (5:1-3), a rampage of lawsuits (6:1-8), Older Christians causing younger Christians to sin and violate their conscience (8:1-13), Rebellion and gender fighting (11:2-16), The abuse of communion (11:17-34), The misuse of spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14), false teachings about the resurrection of Christ (15:12-19), inappropriate courtship and dating ( 2 Cor. 5:14-18), and false apostles running around and spreading lies about Paul (2 Cor chapters 10-12). Does that sound like a model church?

How about the church in Galatia with it’s attacks from Judaizers and confusion about the law? Or the church in Colosse with the attacks from the Gnostics? The church in Ephesus with it’s gender confusion issues and open attacks from the cultists?

Admittedly, the New Testament numerical decreases are LESS than the Old Testament, but one would wonder if things would have been better if Bill Hybels or Joel Osteen had been around back then. Jesus and Paul could have most likely benefited from a book on communication and positive marketing. Moses and Elijah, on the other hand, needed a few dozen seminars on leadership, stress management, team building and personal empowerment. For being the Bible, there sure isn’t a whole lot of good examples in there of ‘healthy’, vibrant churches or ‘consistently positive growth’ ministries…Hmmm…


Okay, I hope nobody takes this stuff seriously…it’s all intended as some MASSIVE tongue-in-cheek ramblings. The entire “numbers = spiritual success” idea in ministry is a pagan idea that comes from anti-biblical thinking. Many of the leadership/eldership in churches I know think like business savvy pagans, and will one day have to give an answer before the blazing eyes of the righteous judge as to why they were instrumental in growing huge churches with next to no Christians in them. I’m eternally upset that there are so many people in church leadership/eldership with 30 years experience at being foolish. Just because you’re retired and rich doesn’t mean you’re godly. I haven’t said anything too offensive for a while, so that’s my ‘tactless remark’ for the week. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger C.H.H. said...

Chris here. Besides the fact that you're going to have to turn message verification on to prevent spammers, that comment about being old and rich is the most tactless thing I've heard all month. Worse then that, it's probably true.

5:13 PM


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