An Urgent Call To Balanced Biblical Eldership
by Chris Lawson (09/09/2011)
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Pet. 5:1-5)
As a result of our last SRN update titled Leaving Calvary Chapel, we have been inundated with the largest email response we have ever received. People from many places around the world have expressed thanks to us for speaking up about what so many Christians are afraid to speak out about - unbiblical authoritarian leadership in churches, and the abuses that inevitably follow.
Although many people are beginning to speak out about these issues, many people (in and out of the Calvary Chapel movement) have already been damaged by heavy-handed leaders. Countless people have left their places of Christian fellowship and it is clear that there is an epidemic in many Christian churches across the globe, including many fellowships within the Calvary Chapel movement.
(Note: Many resources can be found online and in Christian and secular bookstores that expose problematic issues found in many different styles of Christian churches: Legalism, authoritarian leadership (the misuse of spiritual authority), manipulation, coercion, extortion, excessive discipline, discouraging valid questions, spiritual intimidation, elitism and persecution, exiting abusive churches, micro-management and damage control of the abused, the use of fear tactics, guilt, threats, mind control, biblical discernment and sounding warnings about such issues, and more.)
Of course not all pastors are falling into this trap, but many have. The proof can clearly be seen in churches that have melted down internally as a result of implementing a pyramid style structure of church leadership - "A pastor led Moses style form of government". The correspondence that SRN and many other ministries receive, including numerous Christian counter-cult ministries, confirms this enormous problem in the church today.
Our concern in all this has to do with wanting to help individuals and Christian leaders, not paint a bad picture of pastors and nit-pick at the Calvary Chapel movement. Obviously biblical pastor-teachers are a gift from God to His church and God honors truly humble men that seek to keep a balance in church leadership. Egotistical and popularity-driven pastors do not keep the balance and they are like the plague to God's church. Like Diotrophes (3 John 9-11) they are ever seeking to micro-manage God's church. In doing so, they reject all who bring correction. When things aren't exactly the way the controlling pastor wants, the implementation of manipulation and coercion tactics ensues. As a result, damage control and becoming overly-image conscious becomes the norm.
In many cases healthy Christian fellowships eerily morph into machines that systematically chew up and drive away endless supplies of well-meaning people, all at the behest of the heavy-handed leaders who sit atop of their self-made hierarchical church leadership pyramid. Sadly, a myriad of sociological abuses that are found within cult-like movements, and even full-blown cults, are more and more being found within Christian fellowships. The Christian theology may be up to par in the churches teaching and on paper, but the social behavior from the top of the pyramid on down exhibits standard cult dynamics. (Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire!)
Note: Authority Research writer Dean Gotcher explains clearly how this abusive dialectical process is put into praxis. It is known as Diaprax, and many pastors do not even realize they are implementing it.
This website is not for those who are content in the way things are, it is for those who have already been abused by the dialectical process and want to know what happened and how to respond. Learn what Diaprax is (the dialectic process - of Hegel and Marx 'fame' - put into social practice - praxis) and how it is affecting you and the world around you.
Source: Authority Research http://authorityresearch.com/
Through the years God has used the Calvary Chapel movement as well as many other Christian fellowships in a remarkable way, but much is coming to light nowadays that is not good. If leaders have succumbed to implementing authoritarian abuses they need to repent and make right what is wrong, not brush it under the rug in order to make themselves look good.
SRN and other research ministries are simply trying to help people see clearly what is happening, and as well seeking to help people either confront and/or depart from any leaders who are abusing them - regardless of what denomination or movement they are in. Jesus spent a great deal of time with this issue in His day (Matt. 23), and John the Apostle felt its sting clearly (3 Jn 9-11). Spiritual abuse needs to be exposed at all costs, especially with leaders who are unrepentant.
If you are personally struggling in your own fellowship, have left a church because of leadership abuses, or you simply need a rock solid biblical foundation on what balanced biblical eldership (leadership) looks like, we recommend Alexander Strauch's excellent book Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership. This book offers a theologically straightforward perspective on New Testament eldership/leadership. Study guides by this author can also be found online. Link is for this single web page only. SRN does not necessarily endorse other material found at this website. SRN is linking to this source for the FREE HTML article only.
Lastly, The Wurmbrand Letters (Only four on Amazon.com at present 9/9/11) clearly reveals where authoritarian abuses find their full fruition, "Christian-Social-Justice" = COMMUNISM!
Folks, don't be taken for a ride! "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition..." (2 Thess. 2:3).
The man of sin (the Antichrist) will soon appear, and when he does, the world and a global, deluded, apostate Christendom that has been systematically groomed by corrupt spiritual authority will embrace him. Will you recognize him when he appears, or will your pastor have subtly led you right into his hands? Jesus said, "...insomuch that, if it were possible, they (false anointed ones) shall deceive the very elect" (Matt 24:24). Paul the Apostle said, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).
In light of the foregoing material, one would do well to read Foxes Book of Martyrs.
Foxes Book of Martyrs
"Foxe's Book of Martyrs has been an invaluable addition to the libraries of faithful Christians for almost five centuries. Chronicling the suffering and brutal deaths of those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, John Foxe captured the God-given, Spirit-inspired courage of these noble souls. Though sometimes difficult to read because of the inhumane cruelty depicted in its pages, the images which truly endure are the ones which portray the victorious faith, through the grace of God, of these Christian martyrs.
Why should you read this book? The stories within these pages are supremely inspiring accounts of those who gave their lives defending the truth of the Gospel. Much can be learned not only of their fortitude but also of an apostate false church that persecuted them. The powerful witness of these martyred saints will stir your hearts, as it has the true church through the centuries, to be that loyal bride of Christ, strong and pure."