Tim Challies Says We Should Follow Mediocre Pastors. Don’t Let Some Second Rate Pastor Discipline You.

Jupiter’s South Equatorial Region-JPL/NASA

“What right have such men to represent Christianity—as if it were an institution for getting up idiots genteelly?”  ― George Eliot, Middlemarch


Tim Challies avoided learning about the sex abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace because it was “poor time management* to do so.

Seven years ago, Tim Challies wrote a ridiculous post regarding the accusations of sex abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries. Challies, a supporter of CJ Mahaney in his heyday, decided that it would be poor time management to learn too much about the abuse situation at Sovereign Grace. I wrote: Tim Challies and SGM: “I Have Deliberately Avoided Learning Too Much. (Subtitled Profiles in Gospel Courage…)

For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much. I have had to question my motives, especially since I have repeatedly been on the receiving end of scathing criticism for not using my platform to speak out against Mahaney. I have chosen to read the news stories, to understand the basic facts, but conscience compels me to stop there. To do more may not be spiritually beneficial, it may not reflect good time management, and it may not be loving toward those who are involved.

It is my opinion that the actions and attitudes of Tim Challies and his gospel dudebros are among some of the reasons that sexual abuse has been allowed to fester and increase for years in the evangelical church. This is the nonsense that I had to stand against when writing about CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries many years ago. His gospel dudebro, Joe Carter, accused me of libel for calling out the SGM sex abuse mess. I’m still waiting for an apology.  Challies’ *time management* post is one of the reasons that I lost respect for Challies and his BFFs who supported each other in their determination to avoid looking at sex abuse in their midst. I continue to stand by that assessment as we slide into 2021.

Tim Challies wants you to follow mediocre leaders because it’s biblical to do so.

It is important to realize that Challies is a *gospel dudebro.* He believes in the authority of pastors to rebuke and discipline you. He is also part of a group of pastors who believe in *discipline for thee but not for me.*  I wonder if the increasing number of complaints and documented abuses by authoritarian pastors and church leaders is the reason for his post. Is this another way for Challies to say *move along, nothing to see here* just like he did when a number of SGM victims came forward (and maybe coming forward again? ) For those of you who don’t know about the SGM scandal, here is a great article. (Looks like it was good time management for the Washingtonian to report Mahaney.)

Challies wrote the following stunning post: On Following Mediocre Leaders. Here are some highlights.

The fact is, there are not a lot of great leaders.

…most of us are of average leadership ability. A few are brilliant, a few are awful, but most fall somewhere in the middle—average, adequate, mediocre.

…Perhaps the place to begin is with admitting our own mediocrity

…We often lead erratically, impulsively, selfishly, unsympathetically.

…We must follow others as we’d wish to be followed

Here’s where it gets theologically intense. 😉 You are Biblically obligated to follow these mediocre leaders because it’s part of the natural order of things.

…From the humility of our own mediocrity we can consider God’s natural ordering of the world. Embedded in the Ten Commandments is a guide to the way God has ordered relationships.

You see, our leaders are like our mom and dad and we are to follow them because they are like our mom and dad. (Like that thoughtful sentence.)

By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” The commandment begins with the most basic relationship of authority—children to parents—then extends to all others.t

It is their position which God demands that we follow, no matter how inept they are.

We must see and understand that it is not the skill of the leaders that gives them the right to call us to follow them. It’s not their ability. Not their track record. It’s their position. Their authority is intrinsic to their position.

We follow him(God)  by following them. That’s true whether they are brilliant leaders, bad leaders, or, more likely, just plain mediocre leaders. The exception clause the Bible offers is not to be exercised when we don’t like the way we are being led or when we are being led poorly, but only when we are being led in ways that contradict a higher authority.

Even worse, God will judge us if we don’t follow inept leaders.

It’s not an easy thing to follow. It’s not an easy thing to follow a leader who doesn’t know how to lead with skill, with integrity, with excellence. Yet to resist authority, even authority exercised with mediocrity, is, in the words of scripture, to resist what God has appointed, and “those who resist will incur judgment”

OK, enough of this nonsense. Let’s think about this. Do you go looking for mediocre?

  • Would you go to a mediocre neurosurgeon to remove the tumor in your little girl’s head? Absolutely not. My husband and I called people all over the country who encouraged us to stay with the neurosurgeons at Dallas Children’s Hospital. Mediocre was not what we wanted.
  • Would you go to a mediocre guy to fix your car? I sure do my homework on finding the best repair shop for the money.
  • I am about to pick up Chinese food from a great hole in the wall restaurant. (They are the best.) I don’t spend our hard-earned money on mediocre food.
  • Would you let a mediocre electrician rewrite your house?

What do you want to bet old Tim looks for better than mediocre when it’s his money and life on the line? Yet he’s asking us to put our spiritual lives in the hands of mediocre leaders. Is he trying to make this argument because of a number of mediocre pastors in his circles that I have exposed on this blog?

Why I would never go to a church that encourages mediocre anything.

If you have been reading TWW for any length of time, you have read story after story of abuse in churches led by *mediocre* pastors. In the next week or so, I will be writing the story of a woman who was abused by a church that emphasized the mediocre practice of biblical counseling, ACBC style.

  • There was mediocre Matt Chandler who abused Karen Hinckley.
  • There was mediocre Andy Savage who molested Jules Woodson and went on to become a mega pastor.
  • There are Mark Dever and 9 Marks who will not let a member resign from a church without their mediocre permission.
  • There is the TGC, 9 Marks, and Acts 29 requirement that one sign a church contract (covenant). These mediocre leaders plan to discipline you for any infraction which they do not define ahead of time.
  • I have written, time and time again, of decent church members who have gone to their mediocre pastors with some concerns and find themselves on the wrong end of the church discipline process.
  • My blogging buddy, Todd Wilhelm, who quit his 9 Marks church in Dubai because he disagreed with them pushing CJ Mahaney’s books, landed on their member care list (a euphemism for church discipline.) He stayed on it for 6 months because he refused to immediately join another church. (He was being careful not to land another mediocre church.) He was guilty, like Martin Luther, of exercising his freedom of conscience. That 9 Marks mediocre leadership didn’t like anyone like Todd wh, unlike them, is decidedly not mediocre. Unlike them, he stood up for those who have been abused.

According to Tim Challies, we are to submit to church discipline. According to Challies, we also should be willing to be judged as needing church discipline by mediocre church leaders/pastors. Given my almost 12 years of blogging, I believe that there are far too many mediocre and unloving p\astors who should be avoided at all costs. One can only read Challies’ response to the CJ Mahaney situation to get that he’s one that should be avoided. He was on the wrong side of history and is demonstrating that he is quite mediocre. But he doesn’t mind. In his book, mediocre means he can be your leader and you need to follow him anyway.

Don’t settle for mediocre pastors who are authoritarian junkies. Seek out good, kind, and loving pastors. They are out there. I’ve found quite a few along the way. Wade Burleson on EChurch is one. I attend a church that has pastors who are far, far better than Challies’ group of mediocre leaders. Do not let yourself be bullied or disciplined (sometimes they are the same) by second rate church leaders. God loves you. Make sure your church leaders do as well.


Comments

Tim Challies Says We Should Follow Mediocre Pastors. Don’t Let Some Second Rate Pastor Discipline You. — 190 Comments

  1. My exit interview with my former SGM church was essentially that I should be willing to follow the pastors even when they were proven wrong. I might have been able if they were the sort of lot to admit when they were wrong and make amends. The truth of it is that we’re like Fonzi-they could never manage to utter they were wrong or sorry without making it someone else’s fault.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. I knew a seminarian in the final year of training at an outstanding, academically rigorous seminary. The faculty piled on an unmanageable amount of work. The seminarian tried to do it all and met every unreasonable deadline without a peep of complaint.

    A professor sat down with this hard-working seminarian and said that the greater assignment was not academic work but negotiation. The message: If you can’t bring yourself to ask a professor for a one-day extension, how are you going to deal with competing demands in a congregation? You simply cannot take on everything by yourself.

    There was no academic penalty for working too hard, but there was a very hard and memorable lesson that changed the way that pastor approached the ministry.

    I’d rather have that pastor than someone who pridefully limits their knowledge. Hard academic work tests faith, teaches critical thinking, and builds character and humility. It also happens to create a base of information to which one can add throughout life. If these things are somehow incompatible with Christianity, it is not a worthwhile faith.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. From the Challies post referenced above: “We must see and understand that it is not the skill of the leaders that gives them the right to call us to follow them. It’s not their ability. Not their track record. It’s their position. Their authority is intrinsic to their position.”

    No no NO! A leader’s authority is intrinsic to their CHARACTER, NOT to their position.

    Challies needs to read his Bible more. He can start with Matthew 23. Move on to Amos. Then Mark 1:22. And Ezekiel 44:10-16. There are any number of references to leaders who are condemned because their character does not meet the requirements of their position, and one of the things that amazes people about Jesus is that he teaches authoritatively in spite of having NO position.

    There is a huge difference in following a pastor who may be a mediocre speaker and administrator but has a humble/generous/steadfast/etc character, and following a pastor who is a charismatic speaker and meticulous administrator but has an arrogant/greedy/mediocre character. Challies does not make this distinction when exhorting people in which kind of “mediocre” pastor to follow.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. It is a pity that you chose to resurrect this topic years after he wrote it. Tim Challies’ son, a student at Baylor, collapsed and died suddenly a few weeks ago and the Challies family has been left devastated. If you didn’t know this your research is shoddy; if you did your piece is reprehensible. Shame on you..

    And if you read his personal essays on grief and loss written in the last few weeks, you might learn something of a true Christian spirit.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. I guess if Mr. Challies was sitting across from me I would bring up the issue of Covid. Should I follow my pastor, should our church follow him if he and our elders decide to keep our church open when local regulations and common sense says it should close. Many churches have defied authorities and remained open to the detriment of their members, often costing lives. What if my pastor doesn’t think Covid 19 is that bad, do I still show up? I do believe that we should respect our leaders but not be blind followers. Questioning at times may be the most appropriate thing to do.
    My pastor has asked a doctor in our church his opinion on several occasions how to handle
    the Covid crisis as it pertains to our church community, I think that show good leadership and common sense.
    The church is not the military and even in real life , soldiers and sailors occasionally question orders that are conflicting or unwise.
    I truly believe that if a leader is humble and loving
    a lot of problems will solve themselves. The shepherd staff was used for guidance, not to beat the sheep. I am sure a pastor’s job is extremely difficult,m. As I have gotten to know my pastor, I marvel how he has been able to be loving toward people who have have mistreated him, his family
    and criticized his decisions. Thankfully they are a minority but I have seen the pain it has caused him. I guess it comes with the job. There does seem to be a trend toward more control from church leadership, church covenants, lots of articles on how to do church discipline and etc. Perhaps an emphasis on humbleness, patience and the other fruits of the spirit would be better for leaders to exemplify.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. Lowlandseer: It is a pity that you chose to resurrect this topic years after he wrote it. Tim Challies’ son, a student at Baylor, collapsed and died suddenly a few weeks ago and the Challies family has been left devastated. If you didn’t know this your research is shoddy; if you did your piece is reprehensible. Shame on you..

    Challies wrote that article less than two weeks ago, more than a month after his son died at SBTS (not Baylor). Does the death of his son now give him authority to write whatever he wants with no accountability? If it is too early to criticize his most recent public writings then it is also too early for him to be writing publically.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. TC’s essay strikes me as slightly incoherent. From within his world-view, gospel ministry is the most important thing in the world, dealing as it does with everlasting consequences, good versus evil. Surely mediocrity is intolerable, given that so much is at stake.

    One of the criticisms I have harbored of RCC is what I regard to be a “mechanical” view of grace — do these things and grace is dispensed to you (I’m sure this is a highly un-nuanced remark, and quite possible more valid of medieval than present day RCC, though I continue to be spooked by “relics”), with good everlasting consequences. It have the impression that TC is arguing for something similar — just do as you’re told and in the end it will work out well.

    —-

    An alternative “take” on the problem of the ubiquity of mediocre leadership would be to ask, which TC does not, questions like:

    * “why do we put up with mediocrity in leaders who occupy vital positions when we have influence over the choice of the occupants of those positions?” TC’s arguments make more sense in contemplation of feudal Europe than they do present-day US churches.

    * “why are leaders at every level content to be mediocre?”

    * “why does our society not raise the young and educate the elites toward the goal of excellence in character and leadership?”

    He does hint at an answer to the last question — the futility to which creation has been subjected by him who subjected it.

    But it seems to me that at least in the churches, there ought to be elements of “realized eschatology”, “new creation”, “men made new.” To tolerate, embrace or even, as TC seems to do, celebrate the futility of the Fall at the very center of the visible life of the churches … this strikes me as profoundly self-defeating.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. Lowlandseer: Ken you sink to new lows every time you comment in my opinion .

    What in the world are you talking about? I only asked whether or not he should now get a pass on everything he writes simply because he lost a son. I do have compassion for him with respect to that. But why does it mean he can now write with impunity? Can you answer this question?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. I think there are few areas of life where seeking out the “best of the best” is essential. Brain surgery would definitely be one of them! However, in most areas, we get by just fine with someone who is competent at a specific task. Plumbers and mechanics, lawyers and podiatrists are certified by various processes as being “good enough.” You can ask on your NextDoor site about any of these, and you’ll get a recommendations for a dozen or more whom your neighbors have found to be adequate at their jobs. Realistically, if there is one who is far better than most of the others, he has so much work that he can’t take your call, or he’s made so much money that he retired to the Bahamas at 45.

    Statistically, most “pastors,” like other professionals, are going to be grouped around the median quality for their profession in various areas such as public speaking, administrative ability, or “leadership.” I don’t see this as a problem unless one expects way too much of them, including giving them way too much authority and way too little accountability.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. Wild Honey: There is a huge difference in following a pastor who may be a mediocre speaker and administrator but has a humble/generous/steadfast/etc character

    I agree. In any occupation, character has to come first, and other personal abilities or learned skills come after. For people in religious leadership positions, it’s even more important.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. Lowlandseer: Linking it to what was written seven years ago is what I was referring to and given his family’s recent tragedy makes the post all the more disgraceful.

    His son died on Nov 3. He refrained from publishing his daily a la carte for only three days, and on Nov 6 he published an article he wrote about the importance of fencing the communion table only. So how is it inappropriate to critique his writings two months after his son passed when he got back to his old routine after only three days? If two months is too soon (when he only took a few days off), when will it be appropriate? How many months must pass?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. And here is the pernicious malevolence of the false doctrine of ‘inerrancy.’

    “By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority blah blah blahl

    Arrant nonsense like this is palmed off as ‘doctrine’ because ‘I have an internet mdiv and you do not.’ I just read the fifth commandment to be sure but unless I am errant, that baloney is not in there.

    btw, other than the proto-mediocrity Challies, none of the pastors mentioned above rise to the level of mediocre – the are all sociopaths.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. Mediocre leaders produce mediocre followers. Mediocre pastors don’t fulfill their role to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Poor leadership in the pulpit = immature pew = much of the church in America. Religious, but spiritually destitute, they are … mediocre at best.

    Should any believer serve with mediocrity in the Body of Christ? Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part.

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord … It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

    IT IS THE LORD CHRIST YOU ARE SERVING! If we truly know that we are to be ambassadors for Christ, we should strive for excellence in serving Him. There is no room for mediocrity … we have an important assignment, it is not be left in the hands of the mediocre in pulpit and pew.

    Challies’ post is very mediocre. As we enter 2021, I hope the church gets tired of authoritarian, mediocre dudebros and sends them packing.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. Cynthia W.: Statistically, most “pastors,” like other professionals, are going to be grouped around the median quality for their profession in various areas such as public speaking, administrative ability, or “leadership.” I don’t see this as a problem unless one expects way too much of them, including giving them way too much authority and way too little accountability.

    Agreed, with the caveat that the median is not a fundamental constant of nature; it can and does change as culture changes. One sees this in business administration. Two generations ago, it was quite common for business leaders to have a sense of “noblesse oblige”, or “duty to the community.” There has been a discernible decline in business ethics; “stakeholders” and community are less a consideration in business decisions — maximizing short-term profit has become a, or the, prime objective. As church ministry has increasingly become a kind of business, the median of the population of church leaders has changed — and I feel confident that the change has not been for the better.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. Lowlandseer: It is a pity that you chose to resurrect this topic years after he wrote it. Tim Challies’ son, a student at Baylor, collapsed and died suddenly a few weeks ago and the Challies family has been left devastated. If you didn’t know this your research is shoddy; if you did your piece is reprehensible. Shame on you..

    And if you read his personal essays on grief and loss written in the last few weeks, you might learn something of a true Christian spirit.

    The essay in question was published on December 21, 2020, or just 12 days ago. What is YOUR problem? I’m sorry Tim lost his son; children aren’t meant to die before their parents. That said, since Tim has decided he can continue to publish dreck even in the middle of his mourning, it is the responsibility of others to call out his nonsense for what it is. You, sir, need to get a grip. Dee didn’t start this argument; Tim Challies did.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. Samuel Conner,

    Linking it to what was written seven years ago is what I was referring to and given his family’s recent tragedy makes the post all the more disgraceful.

    Hello all,

    I’m wondering if it might be best for all of us to “back off” the argument about the appropriateness of lls’ objections to the OP and to some of the comments.

    Lowlandseer,

    How are you doing? You suffered a terrible and unexpected loss not long ago. I can see how the OP, in the context of a similar loss suffered by Tim Challies, could “trigger” a powerful sense of offense.

    I hope that you (and TC) are able to grieve well and to find comfort.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. Samuel Conner,

    Good points, Mr. Conner. I think the situation you observe has less to do with the basic capabilities of the people and more to do with the intentions and incentives of the organizations.

    That is to say, “mediocre” (or “excellent”) at what? At public speaking? At fundraising? At brand development? At striving for Christlike virtue, loving God above all and your neighbor as yourself? In my opinion, mis-identifying the qualities needed for a pastor is one issue, and the massively overblown concept of his authority is another.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. Doubtful: My exit interview with my former SGM church was essentially that I should be willing to follow the pastors even when they were proven wrong.

    That’s the stuff that cults are made of! “Touch not mine anointed” is greatly overworked in New Calvinism … the dudebros don’t need to be turned loose on the Body of Christ with little to no accountability. It’s OK to question pastors when they begin to drift off course … if you get a check in the spirit, it’s there for a reason.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  19. Lowlandseer,

    That post got resurrected on social media and was discussed at length prior to Christmas. Priorf to that, I had already mentioned my sadness at the passing of his son on social media.

    I waited to write about this until AFTER he began writing again. If he his writing again on his blog, I would assume that he is ready to start dealing with the fray once again. I checked to see if he was writing again prior to writing this post.

    People deal with grief in many ways. It appears to me that his way of dealing with grief is to write. His son died two months ago. It seems like that could be an appropriate time to begin to write again. But, maybe you have some standard of how long one should wait to respond to an article that is still on social media and being discussed.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  20. The dude-bro’s’ obsession with power and control (which they couch in the more acceptable term “authority”) is a result of their theology. They worship their god not for his goodness but because he is all-powerful (sovereign.) They have no problem with their god doing terrible things, like wiping out people through hurricanes and tsunamis and plagues, and decreeing that children should be molested and women abused, because it is his divine “right” to kill/abuse whomever he wants because he has the power. They lust after that power, so they claim that they are given a divine right to bully people below them the way their god is a divine, all powerful bully.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  21. Lowlandseer: Linking it to what was written seven years ago is

    I would suggest that you follow social media a bit more carefully if you think that I resurrected a 7 year old post. It had been discussed extensively on social media before Christmas.

    I decided to respond to it after I checked to see if TC was writing again. His son died in early November. What is the appropriate amount of time for me to write a critique of his article which he has not denied or removed? Two months? 6 months? Or is the issue really never, ever discuss this embarrassing piece again?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  22. Lowlandseer: . It is clear that nothing changes in the swamp.

    So, because you are in a different theological tribe, you get to insult the other tribe? I would ask you to back off. If not, I will have to start moderating all of your comments. And you are the one who is yelping about my lack of compassion? Or is that compassion only for your tribe?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  23. We all deal with grief differently. When my mother in law, who I cared for in my home while she was dying, passed away, I found refuge in this blog and posted almost immediately. When my mother was so sick in Decemeber, I continued to post. I even tweeted from the ER.

    I would be quite irritated if people felt they needed to treat me with kid gloves during thought times. I have chosen to go public with this blog and I expect to be critiqued for what I have written. I would not have begun blogging if I felt like people had to treat me with kid gloves. It is thought out there and I knew it when ai began.

    My daughter is an example to me of wishing to be treated normally. I wish you could see her MRI. In fact, I may put it on here one day. I was told to be careful with her. She would have learning difficulties. I had to be careful of her bumping her head because it could trigger seizures.

    She totally disagreed with all of the limitations, even at three. She took up dancing and swimming. She later became a cheerleader and I held my breath. She insisted on being treated *just the same* as others in class although she could have received some extra help with her medical history. Her grade were her grades and she did it her way. I’m not saying others have to do this. This was her way,.

    She bucked me every bit of the way. When she told me she wanted to be a nurse, I tried to convince her to get a job with more regular hours. I came home one day and she was watching an appendectomy on the Discovery Channel. I knew it was over! When she became a nurse, I tried to convince her to take an easier path. No way! She did ED and critical care. She did a medical mission trip to India and did a stint on the Mercy Ship. She took on the hardest of all jobs-pediatric critical care and ED in one of the most famous childrens’ hospital in the world.

    Yet she still must get annual MRIS with contrast and is being followed by a long term study at St Jude’s for kids who survived what was thought to be a lethal illness.

    She is my hero and I’m so glad she pursued her own way and didn’t listen to me!

    I believe it is respectful to disagree with Challies on his post. He is a smart man who has chosen to go public with his thoughts. I can well assure you that his tribe does’t mince any words when it comes to me.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  24. I’ve just read his blog. Worse than mediocre – it’s based on dodgy theology.

    “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”

    That’s a commandment to honour our parents. Not to honour pastors.

    Yet Challies is claiming it means anyone who is ‘in authority’ whether in family or government, and anyone who is ‘superior in age or gifts’. Nonsense, there’s no Biblical justification for this. Shockingly bad exegesis. I don’t care if writers have interpreted it in this broad sense in the past – that doesn’t mean they were right and that we should follow.

    These New Calvinists are obsessed with authority and submission. It’s unhelpful, unhealthy and unbiblical.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  25. May: obsessed with authority and submission

    The research regarding “Strongmen” done by historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat is insightful here. Most enlightening is how a leader is voted in, then manipulates a system to fully embrace the control dynamic. Not a sales pitch here (she writes). Her online interviews introduce her findings.

    What’s the answer? What are the roadblocks that systems of governance (like church) are missing? Don’t know. However, I believe Jesus knew since he faced such a system himself. He knew the church would also have to deal with this manipulation, domination, control paradigm transformation.

    … searching Scriptures …

    Never been an End Times groupie. (Max’s “Jesus comes, We’re gone” works.) Also, not schooled in Calvin. (“Take Jesus as your Savior” offered to all.) However, this stealth paradigm shift to authoritarianism right inside the church among us seems eerily more anti-Christ than anything before.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  26. dee: I waited until he began to write again which, to me, signaled he was ready to begin again.

    He actually began to write again almost immediately as evidenced by this article he posted three days after his son’s death:
    https://www.challies.com/articles/solemnity-and-celebration/
    And he also started posting his daily a la carte articles four days after his son’s death. So I don’t think you were too early by any stretch. And I agree with you that he has not been kind to those outside his tribe. I have not seen any recent change in his postings that would change that assessment.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  27. May: Yet Challies is claiming it means anyone who is ‘in authority’ whether in family or government, and anyone who is ‘superior in age or gifts’.

    I understand this to mean that one shows “honor” or respect to various people according to the roles they hold. “Honoring” people in government means I should address the mayor as “Mr. Mayor” if I’m at a Town Council meeting, but I can call him “Mike” at church. A law enforcement officer’s authority is limited to law enforcement stuff, “Show me your license and registration, please.” You treat old people respectfully if at all possible. (I’m not sure what “superior in gifts” means, but, as a basis of authority, it sounds squirrelly.)

    Because I’m not in the same Christian subgroup as Mr. Challies, I’m not sure what authority he is claiming for pastors, whether outstanding or mediocre.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  28. So, let me get this right. Challies believes the world is a giant authoritarian oligarchy with have nots submitting to haves.

    “By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” The commandment begins with the most basic relationship of authority—children to parents—then extends to all others.”

    This sounds like something out of 17th century Geneva. Seems he would have no problem with slaves in this scenario.

    Challies makes me nauseous. He appears to love those who add their own beliefs to scripture.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  29. Lowlandseer,
    Samuel was correct in his response to you. Challies did what I have done. Sometime I take a relevant post I wrote years ago and repost it. I usually write a note that I am doing this so readers know what is going on.

    If you will go to the linked post you will see that he posted this on 12/20/20. I bet he knew that his thoughts were controversial when he did so. He posted it, I responded. This is common.

    I said it before and will say it again. Everyone deals with grief differently. Some prefer to get back to business quicker than others.

    I think you jumped the shark on this one.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  30. Ken F (aka Tweed): have not seen any recent change in his postings that would change that assessment.

    When I decided to write this post, I did what you have done. I checked out what was going on and felt he was signalling that it was *business as usual.*

    Because I had a child who was near death’s door I am sensitive to those who grieve. If he had said *I can’t blog for awhile,* I would not have written this post. However, he reposted it on 12/20/20. He is saying he’s ready,.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  31. Bridget,

    I did not read all the comments before I posted my comment about the article. I don’t regret anything I said with regards to Challies’ article.

    I do want to send my condolences to Challies and his family for their loss. It is difficult to lose a close family member, especially a child. I do pray for their comfort and peace.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  32. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    If Challies can post what he posted then he’s ready to engage the public. But these guys don’t take criticism well. I don’t agree with Lowlandseers comments. It’s fine for their “tribe” to judge, discipline and excommunicate. Dish it but play the “poor me” card when taking it.

    This is why their brand is dying.

    Fyi, Ken, the interactions we’ve had have played a role in my attempt to re engage Christianity in the new year. I’ve started a year long bible study. We’ll see how it goes.

    This forum shows consistently that critical thinking & faith are not mutually exclusive. You can dissent and still be part of the team.

    Happy New Year.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  33. “We must see and understand that it is not the skill of the leaders that gives them the right to call us to follow them. It’s not their ability. Not their track record. It’s their position. Their authority is intrinsic to their position.”

    This brings up a great question, “What gives leaders the right to be leaders? Who gives them their position?”

    I believe that a legitimate leader is appointed by an authority higher than him or herself and is accountable to that authority throughout his or her tenure. For one example, a board or committee appointed by a congregation is charged with identifying a leader who meets the Biblical qualifications for leadership and has the potential to perform other duties and responsibilities to a high standard. This board provides the standards by which this leader is evaluated and holds the leader accountable to those standards. This is how healthy authority works.

    The problem with many, many churches and parachurch ministries is that the leaders are self-appointed and accountable to no one. This is not healthy leadership regardless of healthy the individual leader is.

    I agree with many of Challies comments. Most pastors are not going to be superstar leaders. But if these pastors are appointed and held accountable to clearly defined standards they will be good leaders who will grow into better leaders. If these pastors are self-appointed and unaccountable, there is no one to say whether they are good or not except the pastors themselves.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  34. dee: dudebros used to laugh at the old time preachers

    Some of those old time preachers were PREACHERS! The dudebros … well, they are just tribal preacher-boys who love to display their dude-bro-ness to each other. They are a mediocre bunch, spiritually immature … blind leading the blind, a scourge on the American church. They need to move along and take their skinny jeans and “Jonathan Edwards Is My Homeboy” t-shirts with them.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  35. Lowlandseer: If you didn’t know this your research is shoddy; if you did your piece is reprehensible. Shame on you..

    And if you read his personal essays on grief and loss written in the last few weeks, you might learn something of a true Christian spirit.

    I would hope Lowlandseer would agree with me that Dee demonstrated a true Christian spirit when she expressed her sympathy to him for the recent loss of his father and said she was praying for the whole family.

    Just to refresh Lowlandseer’s memory, here is a comment he wrote on 12/15/2020:

    “Dee, thank you and everyone for your prayers. I do appreciate them. I just felt that I had to tell someone – anyone – how I am feeling and this is a safe place to do it. And for that reason I appreciate more than ever how valuable and necessary TWW is for those who have suffered abuse and need to feel safe when they tell their story.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  36. I have learned more wisdom from some of the people that clean the church each week than from seminary and religious “bigwigs”. I think Challies theology is far from biblical, because it leaves out all the stuff in the Bible about right character and living in a way that brings others up instead of down. I don’t see any of the fruits of the spirit from his movement, nor do I see Jesus’ words respected or even considered. Pastors of bad character is what results in abusive churches.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  37. Paul K,

    ““What gives leaders the right to be leaders? Who gives them their position?””
    +++++++++++++++++

    some leaders have to make gut-wrenching decisions where there is no clear right answer, and there will be destructive consequences to human lives regardless.

    by contrast, a good many leaders are really facilitators. someone to make sure things start and end on time, make sure everyone gets from here to there safely, fed & watered and according to the agreed purpose, make sure the trash is taken out, the light are turned off.

    kind of like a butler.

    while it’s not always simple, i think many of these facilitators have an inflated sense of what they do.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  38. Isn’t this the same argument used for women’s submission to their husband? That it’s their position, not their merits, that give husbands the right to call the shots. I can see how if you are trying to sell this logic in the home, you probably need to use it for the congregation, too.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  39. ishy: I don’t see any of the fruits of the spirit from his movement, nor do I see Jesus’ words respected or even considered.

    The New Calvinists talk a lot about their version of God, with only occasional reference to Jesus, and hardly a word about the Holy Spirit. They spend more time distorting the epistles of Paul, than reading the words in red. They preach another gospel which is not ‘the’ Gospel. For the life of me, I don’t understand why they have a following. It’s cool, I guess, to rebel against the faith of the fathers.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  40. Todd Wilhelm,

    It is always appropriate to ask for prayers and share stories on TWW. We bear one another’s burdens.

    Still, I guarantee you that many who read TWW are silently suffering, especially this past year.

    Here is one of my favorite prayers. It is written for people who are ill, but I find it useful in many circumstances:

    This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  41. I have followed Tim Challies blog for a few years and it has been helpful at times. What happened to his son was so sad. I felt Tim resumed writing too soon but, as Dee says, perhaps that was his therapy. The fact he resumed writing makes his content fair game. I recently left a “New Calvinst” church over a lack of respect for the leadership. Elders do not need to be rockstars at their job. They need to be people of character who have earned, and keep earning, the trust and respect of the people. I cannot blindly follow someone in leadership in the church just because of their position.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  42. Jack: Fyi, Ken, the interactions we’ve had have played a role in my attempt to re engage Christianity in the new year. I’ve started a year long bible study. We’ll see how it goes.

    Happy New Year to you too, and thank you for your kind words.

    I used to think that I was supposed to be a disciple and do the work of an evangelist. But I don’t really know what that means anymore, and I cannot get excited about telling others what the good news is when I am going through a re-evaluation of pretty much everything I belive. Coloring so far outside the lines of evangelcalism has been an adventure. For one, I am realizing what a terrible view of God I was taught. I am finding much better views that also have good historical roots, so that has been positive. But it’s hard to find others who are willing to probe the same types of questions. Everyone here at TWW has been a big help for me on this journey.

    I am in the middle of a book that you might find interesting: “Universal Salvation? The Current Debate” edited by Robin Parry and Christopher Partridge. It has about a dozen contribitors who each weigh in. Thomas Talbott lays out the case for Christian Universalism and the other contributors describe why they disagree from biblical, philosphical, theological, and historical perspectives. What I am enjoying about the book is how it is exposing some of the twisted things I thought were true about God. The Calvinist response by Daniel Strange was especially enlightening for me for how it so clearly articulates why I cannot be a Calvinist (I don’t think that was his intent).

    I hope your new Bible study goes well for you. And I hope you have opportunity to ask a lot of hard and pesky questions that go way outside the lines. I suppose if you get any weird answers you can throw them to the TWW crowd. Not that any of us would have an opinion 🙂

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  43. Ken F (aka Tweed): Yes, because they cannot fathom the possibility of relationship without authority. They have the same problem with trying to understand the Trinity – they make it all about authority and submission.

    Or to put it another way-they can’t fathom a world in which they are not in charge, so they make God and their families the same way.

    It seems to me that their god is really very small.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  44. “By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” The commandment begins with the most basic relationship of authority—children to parents—then extends to all others.”

    Not only is the extension problematic but who is going to be the arbiter of “superiors in age and gifts”?

    Here’s my other question; what about the “grievous wolves“, who figure to not exactly be good shepherds. If common sense isn’t enough to turn the case there, can we appeal to Scripture If common sense isn’t enough to turn the case there, nay we appeal to Scripture “And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even expose them” (cf. Eph. 5:11), cuz Biblical? Or are we supposed to be in autocratic subjection no matter the defective ways of “leadership”?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  45. Max: wisdom

    I belonged to a congregation in which a faction hounded a brilliant and kind-hearted pastor. He eventually found a more receptive congregation, where people did not constantly obstruct him.

    Meanwhile, back at our church, his successor was an incurious dolt with perfect white golfer hair.

    I’d better stop now before I get too excited (as Grandma used to say).

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  46. JDV,

    I think that’s generally the idea. It’s really the perfect set-up for abuse. Reading Challies’ quotes in Dee’s post was terrifying even though he said nothing I haven’t heard before.

    Something that seems to have been left out of the equation here is the whole idea of being called to preach or lead. Shouldn’t that make for fewer mediocre pastors? Though in new calvinism, I suppose the question of calling is irrelevant. Positions of authority, regardless of how they were achieved, have been ordained by God because everything that happens is, always. I agree with Bridget that it’s not much of a stretch from this to “Born a slave? Remain enslaved. It was all ordained by God.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  47. Succy: Something that seems to have been left out of the equation here is the whole idea of being called to preach or lead.

    This has been a concern for me for a couple of decades. I’ve come to the view that the Evangelical mindset encourages potential candidates for ministry vocations to “make up their minds” too soon, before it is known whether or not they actually have the character, temperament, perseverance, etc, etc, to fruitfully serve in that way. And, it seems to me (and I observed this first-hand within my own, admittedly narrow, lived experience), these people are encouraged to believe, if they do make up their minds that they are “called” to ministry, that their subjective sense of call is, in effect, private revelation from God which they must never doubt, since doubt is not pleasing to God.

    It would be better, IMO, to discourage the young from believing in private revelation of call to ministry, and it would be better to delay ministry training until later in life when it is better known “what kind of person” a candidate is. That would be a radical change in “personnel policy” in the churches, since the entire ministry training model is predicated on recruitment of the young.

    A lot of pastoral ministry, especially face to face ministry, requires “case wisdom”, which can only be gained through extensive experience. State licensure for counseling can require thousands of hours of case experience. The by comparison relatively much lower standards for professional christian ministry might be a useful perspective from which to interpret the question of “mediocrity in ministry”. Perhaps it isn’t an inescapable “the way the world works” feature of Divine governance of the world, which undergirds TC’s counsel to grin and bear it. Maybe it’s a choice that the churches have made.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  48. Samuel Conner: It would be better, IMO, to discourage the young from believing in private revelation of call to ministry, and it would be better to delay ministry training until later in life when it is better known “what kind of person” a candidate is. That would be a radical change in “personnel policy” in the churches, since the entire ministry training model is predicated on recruitment of the young.

    This wheel has been invented. Many churches have an ordination track that requires a graduate degree from an academically rigorous seminary. This deters some impatient, fortune-seeking bullies.

    At a good seminary I know, many students are midlife career changers. This does mean that more clergy will be required over time, since someone ordained at age 35 will reach retirement age in fewer years than someone ordained at age 25. However, it’s good to have pastors who have already faced challenges of adulthood.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  49. Succy: Something that seems to have been left out of the equation here is the whole idea of being called to preach or lead.

    I think many of the problems we are seeing in the American church today are the result of preachers who “go into the ministry” rather than being “called” into it. They go into the ministry for various reasons … some think that is where they should be in life but don’t really know for sure (their Daddy was a preacher), some to find trusting victims for their perversions (as TWW continues to record), some to find a relatively easy track to employment (lots of churches in America), some to be a part of an exciting new movement (the bells and whistles of New Calvinism), etc. I suspect the percentage of those genuinely called by God to serve in this capacity is lower than we want to think. While other denominations may differ, the ordination process to become a pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention is pretty easy … I’ve personally witnessed the “laying on of hands” on men I doubted were called into ministry – who later turned out to be scoundrels.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  50. Interestingly, a Challies post about Mahaney from 2011 started with almost exactly the same words as his 2013 post highlighted above.

    2011:
    “These have been difficult days for C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).”

    2013:
    “These have been troubling days for C.J. Mahaney and everyone associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    https://www.challies.com/articles/c-j-mahaney-and-difficult-days/

    In the 2013 article he said he did not believe it was good use of his time to learn about the allegations. But in 2011 he said, “I felt it would be wise for me to look through them.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  51. Friend,

    This type of ‘teaching’ would make me want to quit the program. The teacher was basically lying to the student, telling him one thing and ‘hoping’ he would do something else. Like the tests that say ‘read the entire test then do part 1’ and have the last question be ‘don’t do any of the questions’.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  52. Samuel Conner: I’m wondering if it might be best for all of us to “back off” the argument about the appropriateness of lls’ objections to the OP and to some of the comments.

    I am glad that you have noticed this. This is something important to keep in mind. I know I keep irritating people here with calls to not just spend all of our communication energy pointing out the specks in others eyes. I think everyone here has been burned in the past by bad religion and more than once. Bad religion does need to be spotlighted and people do need to be warned about wolves. But that should not become an excuse to get hardened in our anger that we start being abusive to others inside this blog.

    This can happen and I have seen it here more than once over the years. It is one of the reasons I took a break for many months in the middle of last year from all of these blogs. The worst case of this I witnessed was with another watch-blog that sometimes get promoted here with pingbacks. It is run by a traditional Calvinist with severe anger and control issues who is a pastor of what must be a tiny house church. He sometimes blogs about how he can walk right into a place that is at peace and starts WWIII for no particular reason. He throws contempt on himself for doing so but then will just go and do it again without what we would call actual repentance or change. He runs a watch-blog in a attempt to focus his anger on real issues instead of just innocent bystanders.

    He once did a post on mental health, something close to me that I am called to minister to. He had some people who likely have issues respond in ways he did not like. He went ballistic on them threatening to ban them instead of having mercy on those who struggle. He did that in spite of the fact of his severe heart problems and that rage could kill him, quite literally. His father had the same condition and died from it. I left after that and have never gone back as I was afraid I might make the comment that he reacts to and actually does kill himself.

    Also, there is a woman who was once married to a worship pastor and director at VOM. He started having an affair with his secretary at the scam, false ministry. He divorced his wife in order to marry the secretary. She once warned me about concentrating too much on the evil that we experience and are the victim of. She said she discovered the more she concentrated on the pain and anger the more she started to become like her ex in those bad ways. Years ago as I was beginning to follow multiple watch-blogs I found that I too was crossing bounds. I found myself getting grumpy because of arguments there and snapping at my own wife. I repented as I realized I was devoting too much time and energy thinking about the evil out there and have backed off. I am still concerned and wonder if sometimes I am still going too far on comments at times. I do not want to be as big a jerk as these narcissists that are blogged about. I have seen others here obviously go too far at times though they are blind to it. If you never look in the mirror for the log you are never going to see it. And then we become the religious or anti-religious hypocrites that we despise. We need to know when to turn off the righteous indignation for a little while and just have compassion on someone who is having a hard time processing the events of life. And I am preaching to myself here as much as anyone else…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  53. Cynthia W.,

    I have heard this from a lot of ‘teachers’. My feeling has always been: Don’t read verses. Read the text as a whole. If you read the text as a whole, then you don’t have to rely on such rules. Don’t even read chapters at a time if you can avoid it. Read the whole book.
    Now it is a good idea to read the prophesies along with the history they are talking about – it helps make sense of it. And some stories in the Bible cross many books, and you don’t want to ‘lose the thread’.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  54. me: Don’t read verses. Read the text as a whole.

    Amen! Aberrant theology always begin by taking text out of context. The only way to discern this is to know the Word yourself – never trust the interpretations of men without filtering what they say through the whole of Scripture. Read your Bible and pray. The enemy of Truth has found his way into American pulpits.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  55. Max: I think many of the problems we are seeing in the American church today are the result of preachers who “go into the ministry” rather than being “called” into it.

    I dunno. I think some of the problem, at least in the SBC, is that people often put more stock in calling than in character or training. When I was in college and seminary, there were lots of people that said they were called who clearly did not have good character, but they had been told their whole lives that calling was all they needed. Others took their emphasis on calling as gospel.

    When I look in the Bible and see examples of calling, it was almost always of someone who didn’t really want to do something and God asked them to anyway. What they would to do involved great sacrifice that would extend the rest of their lives. Someone changing jobs at middle age to go into the PCUSA or Methodist ministry where they wouldn’t have control over where they go is sacrifice.

    Believing that they will be the next great megapastor making six figures and everybody hanging off their every word is more like many of the pastor wannabes I met at Liberty and SEBTS. They thought temporary sacrifice would result in fame, money, and power for the rest of their lives. It’s awfully easy to say you are called if you think it’s going to result in a lot of comfort in life.

    Christians need to stop naively believing the claims of being called. There’s no way for others to test someone’s calling. We should be testing their character first and foremost. I don’t care if someone isn’t a good speaker or administrator, but I’ve seen men with enormous charisma destroy churches because they were terrible people.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  56. me: This type of ‘teaching’ would make me want to quit the program. The teacher was basically lying to the student, telling him one thing and ‘hoping’ he would do something else. Like the tests that say ‘read the entire test then do part 1’ and have the last question be ‘don’t do any of the questions’.

    She would have passed that test with flying colors, because she would have followed the written directions.

    Her shortcomings were rigid thinking and a firm belief that she could/should conquer every problem all alone. She wasn’t going to quit seminary a month before graduation—especially since a church had already called her to serve. She went on to have a very productive ministry.

    I do have seriously mixed feelings about this particular lesson. However, it taught her to seek and accept help, and view problems more flexibly. Better to learn this in an academic environment, with no penalty, than at the expense of church members.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  57. ishy: Christians need to stop naively believing the claims of being called. There’s no way for others to test someone’s calling. We should be testing their character first and foremost.

    IMO, bad character = no calling. The ministry is important stuff, the Great Commission is serious business. God looks for those who will serve with honesty and integrity, real deal believers who He can put His hand on and trust them with the assignment … IMHO.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  58. Dee: He, like many of his fellow dudebros, say or thing and then say another.

    Challies appears to be on a trend. Here is what he quoted from Mahaney back in 2006:

    There are, of course, some sins that are particularly serious, both in the effect they have upon others and what they reveal about the condition of the heart. Even a single instance of such sins–sexual immorality, financial impropriety, violent behavior, etc.–would automatically disqualify a man from pastoral ministry. Beyond such grave instances of sin, however, a serious ongoing pattern of disobedient deviation from biblical requirements in the life of a pastor can also be disqualifying.

    https://www.challies.com/articles/c-j-mahaney-the-pastors-priorities/
    He goes from extolling the virtues of meticulous character in pastors, to reading about it but not doing anything about it, to not reading about it at all, to not even writing about it.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  59. me,

    One summer I worked as a role player for a huge medical center. A candidate for a middle management job was brought into the room. We role players were paid to pretend to be the department the candidate was hoping to manage. My job was to listen to instructions, and then to repeat them incorrectly but with conviction. My inner space cadet had a field day! Other role players were supposed to argue, stonewall, stare out the window, etc.

    I felt immensely sorry for the job candidates. The HR department did give each one a decompression session afterward. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I was told not to feel guilty!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  60. Max: Does God truly “call” little characters?

    We have no way to test calling. I do think God calls people. I just don’t think others can use calling as some sort of indicator. I don’t even think it’s worthwhile to consider calling because I’ve seen too many people use calling as an excuse for getting passed through with little evaluation. Especially if they have famous/powerful family members who can just set them up in the ministry. The SBC’s system of allowing any male to start a church is hugely problematic.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  61. Max: Well, if they don’t talk about Jesus much you have to wonder … e.g., SBC-YRR church planters … heck, they talk about Piper more than they do Christ!

    They lie at the beginning. Their references also lie. The process of choosing a pastor in many of these churches is also not in-depth or long enough to really know who someone is. Often the decision is based on charisma or being related to someone because the deliberation is so short.

    I have friends who I’ve tried to tell about what’s going on in the larger SBC, and they just say that God will fix it for them, so they don’t have to try to hard to find someone. Honestly, I’ve heard the same thing from Christian friends wanting to get married fast (and all of them are now divorced). I think the process itself is broken and favors these dudebros, and they know it and want to keep it that way.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  62. Some years ago a young pastor in my church said that if he and a congregation member disagreed about an issue or doctrine, that he was right because of his position–his position made him right. I found that fascinating; throughout the OT we see prophets rebuking kings for their actions. The king’s position, biblically, did not grant them immunity from being wrong. I have always wondered, for those who claim such fidelity to Scripture, how they could ignore history and take a stand such as this.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  63. ishy: God will fix it for them

    A church near us had a founder/pastor. Our friends belonged. One Sunday the service was going along as usual, and a man suddenly stood up. He asked the pastor, “Is it true that this is your last day?” The pastor said yes.

    And that was it.

    Our friends refused to ask any questions at all about this. It was all in God’s hands, they said, with gauzy smiles and glassy eyes. They did not want to gossip.

    Naturally, it was impossible to find a successor because the place was built around one man’s personality. It closed for several years and reopened as a church run entirely by and for a community of immigrants.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  64. Ken F: my computer is not playing nicely today. When I try to quote part of what you posted it wants to quote this whole long post and responses. But I also have some of those pesky questions. I wonder sometimes what would the world be like if we had taken the good news to the world, rather than more “you lousy sinners know you deserve to be doomed, right?” to the world.

    Many years ago under a Lutheran pastor’s teaching I realized my old KJV had the angels announcing “peace on earth good will to men.” I think that is an accurate translation. But most Bibles today have twisted it into “peace on earth for men of good will,” which is an altogether different message. And then folks define people of good will as (take your pick) nice males, nice people, people who look think act like me (whoever you are), people in my church or country, etc.

    No. Full stop. The incarnation was God coming to earth with a message that IS peace on earth good will to all of humanity. The nice ones. The not nice ones. The ones we think enjoy God’s favor, and the ones we don’t.

    His take was like a war: Satan has tried to snare and capture God’s people and His territory since Satan fell. Satan trapped us and caught mankind when we fell. At the cross and the resurrection JESUS WON US BACK FOR GOD (Norwegians CAN get excited at really good news!). Now some of us have realized that freedom from bondage and need to go tell the rest their sins are forgiven and they can come home to the Father’s waiting arms.

    THAT was what he saw as evangelism. And sometimes I get that hinky feeling he may have been right!

    Max and others re being called to preach: one nice thing about being an old exBaptist is I can remember when men were not telling us they were called to preach. Rather, we watched what they did/said/etc and WE called them. Then they took time to decide to accept the call or not. Now some youngster wants to tell me “God says I’m the boss of you so shape up” and I am supposed to listen? NOT.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  65. linda: I wonder sometimes what would the world be like if we had taken the good news to the world, rather than more “you lousy sinners know you deserve to be doomed, right?” to the world.

    Very good point. The rest of your comment mirrors “On the Incarnation” by the 4th century St Athanasius. If you have not read it I highly recommend it. I also recommend the introduction to a translation CS Lewis favored – it’s easy to find on the internet. Here is one source for On the Incarnation:
    https://ccel.org/ccel/athanasius/incarnation/incarnation.i.html

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  66. Max,

    Funny, only a few hours ago I was thinking back to the first reformed church I attended, which happened to be a PCA plant with a young dudebro pastor. At 47 I was the oldest person in the congregation, no kidding.

    It was also my first church experience since childhood. But even my ignorant self did think it odd that most of the preaching seemed to be coming from the book of Romans, and more often than not the topic was some variant of Why We Are Reformed. (What does it mean to be reformed? We’re so lucky to be chosen! Why predestination is not wrong! For Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated, etc. )

    I didn’t stay very long. The sermons were bad enough but what really got me to turn tail and run was the first meeting about joining, part of which the pastor spent griping about how incensed with disbelief he was at someone he had kindly offered to “restore through discipline” who had been sent over from another congregation- the guy had the nerve to say he wasn’t interested. Most of the meeting, however, was spent going through a notebook containing his vision for the church plant, all very detailed and even including pie charts and venn diagrams. It was a business proposal. And I just wasn’t interested. The whole thing was just plain weird.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  67. Succy: most of the preaching seemed to be coming from the book of Romans

    Oh yeah, the new reformers spend most of their time preaching and distorting from Paul’s epistles. They pretty well avoid the Gospels. I told one young pastor that if he read Paul first, he might get Jesus wrong … but if he read Jesus first, the writings of Paul would come into perspective. He didn’t get it.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  68. Dee, this strikes me as a most uncharitable read of Tim’s article. I’m not a big fan of Tim’s writing because he tends to be simplistic, but all he is saying is that most people, even most pastors, are going to be average.

    If you live in a small town, the best you might get is a pastor who might not be the best leader but who is generally true to Scripture and isn’t abusiive, He might not be a charismatic personality or an exceptionally skilled pastor or exegete. In the eyes of the church and the world, he’s going to be mediocre.

    Challies ill-conceived support of Mahaney (in the past at least), notwithstanding, all he seems to be saying is submit to those in authority even when you don’t agree with their decisions. Every church member has to do that even with non-mediocre pastors.

    And why the insinuation that Tim may be writing the article because of what your blog has done in “exposing” his friends?

    You can do better.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  69. Cousin of Eutychus: a young pastor in my church said that if he and a congregation member disagreed about an issue or doctrine, that he was right because of his position – his position made him right

    “I’ve been to seminary” doesn’t make a pastor right about everything. A multitude of New Calvinist SBC church planters went to seminary and look how much trouble they have caused! Good Lord, an immature youth group is running the denomination now!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  70. JDV: who is going to be the arbiter

    (arbiter: has ultimate authority in a matter)

    It could be argued that patriarchal theology is the date assault drug of church engagement. Like date assault drugs, patriarchal theology neutralizes the agency of those who partake, who are at the receiving end, while putting the administrator in total control, of another human being, one whom God created to have agency (and as an adult, complete agency).

    Willingly mingle with those who administer this theology at one’s own risk.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  71. Friend,

    “I’ve heard this preached at a wedding: when two people disagree, there’s no mechanism for a tie-breaking vote, so God put the man in charge.

    [Steps outside. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!” Returns with unconvincing smile.]”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    might be interesting to stand and declare, “I object!”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  72. me: I have heard this from a lot of ‘teachers’. My feeling has always been: Don’t read verses. Read the text as a whole. If you read the text as a whole, then you don’t have to rely on such rules. Don’t even read chapters at a time if you can avoid it. Read the whole book.

    Chapter-and-Verse was originally done to allow quick cross-referencing but the result is turning the entire Bible into one-verse verbal-component magick spells, with no relationship whatsoever with each other.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  73. Samuel Conner: if they do make up their minds that they are “called” to ministry, that their subjective sense of call is, in effect, private revelation from God which they must never doubt, since doubt is not pleasing to God.

    “Private Revelation” like Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russel, Mary Baker Eddy, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Mo David?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  74. So many “we”s in Tim Challies blog post. I don’t think I come across an “I”. He managed to instruct the reader to be on board with his own bible interpretation.
    I dislike this type of rhetoric to manipulate readers by reeling the readers in with “we” and laid the burden of guilt on the reader.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  75. Sowre-Sweet Dayes: So many “we”s in Tim Challies blog post. I don’t think I come across an “I”. He managed to instruct the reader to be on board with his own bible interpretation.
    I dislike this type of rhetoric to manipulate readers by reeling the readers in with “we” and laid the burden of guilt on the reader.

    That’s a really interesting observation into the psychology of TGC pastors. I’ve maintained since seminary that I believe they are a cult and strategically use cult tactics. I think this might be one I hadn’t noticed before. I will keep an eye out for it in the future,

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  76. I came across this blog post from a Christian professor and thought how appropriate for this topic and so here it is below.

    Exploring the origins of the New Testament canon and other biblical and theological issues
    5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from Ted Lasso
    January 4, 2021 1 Comment

    Looking back on 2020, it seemed like all news was bad news. We moved from impeachment to the coronavirus to the killing of George Floyd to the presidential election to multiple church leadership scandals and back to the coronavirus again.

    But sometimes it’s the little things that bring some hope and optimism when we’re feeling down. On that note, 2020 was the perfect year for the new show on AppleTV, Ted Lasso.

    The comedy catalogs the journey of a warm-hearted American football coach, Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis) who is hired to coach a soccer team in the English Premier League—despite having never played (or apparently watched) the game. The show is filled with plenty of hilarious moments highlighting the differences between football and soccer, as well as British and American culture.

    But the show is so much more than a comedy. Hidden beneath the hilarious moments (fair warning: there’s no shortage of bad language and sexual innuendo so viewer discretion is advised), you will find a show that celebrates optimism, hope, and (dare I say it) goodness.

    As Brett McCracken recently observed over at TGC, “Ted Lasso is probably the most feel-good thing I saw on television this year.”

    Perhaps it’s no surprise that I connected with Ted Lasso. I grew up playing competitive soccer, lived in the UK for a number of years (in both Scotland and England), and am a huge fan of the English Premier League (I’ve been cheering for Liverpool since the 1980’s).

    But that’s not the whole story. The show connected with me for another, and more profound, reason. It reminded me of what good leadership looks like, something we desperately needed more of in 2020.

    Despite being a non-Christian show, and despite the fact that Ted Lasso has his own slate of faults and shortcomings, there are fundamental leadership lessons here that we can learn from him. While the church may not have a shortage of leaders, it’s increasingly apparent that we have a shortage of the right kind of leaders.

    So here are five leadership lessons we can learn from Ted Lasso:

    1. Kindness matters more than you think—a lot more

    Watching Ted Lasso, two things immediately stand out. First, the man is remarkably kind to all those around him. He is thoughtful, deferential, and focused on others. He brings gifts, remembers birthdays, and looks for little ways to care for those around him.

    And second, everyone is utterly shocked by his kindness. Indeed, this is the thing that struck me the most: people don’t expect kindness from their leaders. They expect them to be egotistical jerks and bullies, but not kind. How very sad.

    If you want to be a better leader, the lesson is clear: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone” (2 Tim 2:24Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

    2. Notice the “little” people and know they’re not really little

    Building on the prior point, Ted Lasso also pays attention to the so-called “little people” under his care. In one of the very first scenes, he meets Nate the locker room attendant (a position and a person easily overlooked) and immediately asks his name.

    Nate is visibly stunned: “No one ever asks my name.”

    In a world filled with ambitious and platform-minded ministry leaders always wanting to sit at the cool kids’ table, Ted Lasso is a breath of fresh air. He’s not interested in the cool kid’s table. Instead he pays attention to the outcasts; essentially the “poor and crippled and blind and lame” (Luke 14:21Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

    Leadership is not marked by condescension to the “little people,” but by recognizing that there are no little people. Every person should be treated with dignity and deference. Indeed, “for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:15Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

    3. Bullying and intimidation are not leadership techniques

    Ted Lasso’s leadership is not only marked by what he does do, but by what he doesn’t do. As I watched the show I realized that I kept waiting for him to do what most coaches (and leaders do), namely get in the locker room and scream at the players. I kept expecting him to use threats, intimidation, and bullying.

    But those things never came. Instead he was patient. He taught them. He led by example.

    Given that more and more churches end up with domineering bullies as pastors, this is a lesson we need now more than ever. We can’t let Christian leaders look like the leaders of the world.

    The Bible’s vision for leadership is different: “Shepherd the flock of God . . . not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:3Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

    4. Leadership is about making other people better

    There are some pastors where it seems that their number one goal is to always find the worst in people. They are always on the prowl, scanning for weaknesses and flaws in those under them. They lead by fault-finding.

    Not Ted Lasso. While his players had plenty of issues, and while there is a place for confronting these issues, his number one goal was not to tear them apart. Rather it was to bring out the best in them.

    At one point, Lasso states his goal: “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” In order to accomplish this goal, he gave every player a book that was designed to help them discover their own distinctive gifts.

    It’s almost like Ted Lasso had read 1 Thess 5:11Open in Logos Bible Software (if available): “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”

    5. Leaders accept criticism with grace and patience

    Perhaps the number one truism about leaders is that they will be critiqued. It comes with the job.

    And Ted Lasso is no exception. Throughout the show, the English fans are downright ruthless in their critiques of the American coach—his folksy style, questionable tactics, and deficient soccer knowledge.

    Such critiques are neither surprising or remarkable. What is surprising, however, was the amazing way that Lasso absorbed the critiques with patience and grace.

    In one scene, Lasso is walking down the street and three fans from the local pub blast him with all sorts of obscenities. In response, he simply says with a smile: “I appreciate your opinion and hope we’ll have your support in the next game.”

    No defensiveness. No push back. No retaliation.

    Personally, I can’t remember the last time I saw a leader—Christian or non-Christian—respond like this to criticism. But that is our calling as leaders. Indeed, Jesus himself was the perfect example: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

    Conclusion: Listening to Common Grace

    In the end, Ted Lasso is a show that unexpectedly embodies some key Christian leadership principles despite the fact that it’s plainly non-Christian. As such, it exemplifies what we mean by “common grace.” Despite its rejection of Christianity, it still operates within a residual Christian worldview of sorts.

    And the church needs to listen. As David French just observed, when it comes to leadership, “2020 has been a brutal year for the church.” Highly public failures from Ravi Zacharias to Jerry Falwell, Jr. to Carl Lentz have all made us wonder if something has gone very wrong.

    It is humbling to think that maybe one of the best examples of Christian leadership in 2020 (albeit a fictional one) actually comes from a non-Christian. But, maybe that’s just the kind of humility the church needs as we hope for better in 2021

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  77. Chuck: In the end, Ted Lasso is a show that unexpectedly embodies some key Christian leadership principles despite the fact that it’s plainly non-Christian.

    I haven’t seen TL and so only know via others’ accounts. From those, it sounds like there is a contrast between “desired-results-oriented” and “virtuous-process-oriented” visions of leadership. I think that many of the churches that have problems with their leaders have at some point made a choice in favor of the former over the latter, and with a very narrow vision of what the “desired results” are. Bad leaders can at times be, at least for a while, highly effective at accomplishing the purposes for which they were hired.

    Perhaps it could be thought of as a modern day analogue of Jesus’ parables. The story is subversive of the present state of affairs (in the case of TL, with respect to what “real” leadership is) but is presented in a way that is both widely accessible and not clearly understood by everyone.

    And perhaps its an illustration that in spite of secularization and pluralism in Western culture, we can’t get away from the beauty of Jesus.

    Is it in fact “plainly non-Christian”. I wouldn’t hazard a guess, but the method embodied in the story seems parallel to Jesus’ remarks about how the Kingdom is like yeast that invisibly leavens the dough.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  78. Robert,

    Perhaps you misunderstand me. (I’m trying to charitable here.)

    Robert: f you live in a small town, the best you might get is a pastor who might not be the best leader but who is generally true to Scripture and isn’t abusiive, He might not be a charismatic personality or an exceptionally skilled pastor or exegete. In the eyes of the church and the world, he’s going to be mediocre.

    I totally disagree with what you define as mediocre. Mediocre is a pastor who abuses people and demands that people view everything he says on Sunday as the “most important hour of the week.” Mediocre are the abuses of Mahaney. Mediocre is Challies supporting a charlatan like Mahaney. Mediocre is the SBC allowing abuse to continue year after year, even after the dumpster fire called *Caring Well.*

    I believe the best pastors in the world are those who may not be the best preachers, who may not have received an education at the *best seminary in the world,” (we might disagree on this one as well) but who get people and love them beyond measure. These are the pastors who do not demand submission to their *authority* whatever that is. I bet you would have a hard time defining exactly what that means. I know. I’ve been asking the question for 12 years and get blank stares.

    Robert: all he seems to be saying is submit to those in authority even when you don’t agree with their decisions.

    And that gets to this. Submit to what? If it is a bad decision, a mediocre pastor would get all upset if people don’t submit. A great pastor is loving and kind, even in disagreement. In fact, such a loving pastor who is not a wannabe Spurgeon can get his congregation to do things that a supposedly *great* pastor cannot.

    Your descriptor of a mediocre pastor seems warped to me. I suggest you read Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight’s book *A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing.

    Robert, you are trapped in a church culture that demands submission and extols authority. I believe you have it upside down. You need to see the church as a place of goodness and healing first. You didn’t mention love in your rejection of my post and neither did Challies.

    You mentioned Challies’ support of Mahaney (“notwithstanding”.) Challies is exactly the type of leader (he is some sort of elder) that I eschew and urge my readers to do the same.

    I will refrain from addressing your final sentence. You don’t understand what I’m saying and I hope one day that you do. I am glad you commented. You helped me to get to the root of the matter.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  79. Max: “I’ve been to seminary” doesn’t make a pastor right about everything.

    It’s just the spiritual version of Intellectual Snobbery.
    “Just like an Intellectual Snob, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    And like all Spiritual Uber Alles, it denies physical reality.

    “God Lives in the Real World.”
    — Rich Buhler, Eighties radio talk-show host

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  80. dee: I believe the best pastors in the world are those who may not be the best preachers

    Amen. I’ve sat under excellent preachers/teachers, but they weren’t good pastors. They knew how to impart the Word, but didn’t love or care for people as they ought. Seminary produces preachers but the office of “pastor” is a spiritual gift … IMO, few preachers in America are pastors in the true sense of that calling.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  81. Friend: At a good seminary I know, many students are midlife career changers.

    Thank you.

    The sweetest-tempered pastor I ever encountered was a mid-/late- career changer (from, LOL, carpentry) in the UMC.

    I would be a bit more radical. It might be better to prefer “late career” changers or even retired people who “retool” for pastoral ministry. One would get even fewer years of service out of these people.

    Looking at the little data we have on what Paul preferred in the elders he appointed, I think that one gets the impression that these are older and respected figures from within the local community whose character is well-established from many years of visible performance of other roles.

    The “graduate degree from a rigorous academic institution” is certainly useful from the standpoint of the technical functions of present-day conceptions of church ministry, but it doesn’t really overlap much with what Paul seems to have valued in his choices of “overseers.”

    I have the impression that “careerism” started pretty early in the history of the churches. It’s IMO not a good thing.

    My sense is that leadership within local congregations ought to emerge more organically as a growth process within the group, rather than being “bolted on” from outside (even with the safeguards you describe). Maybe such processes themselves are unrealistic, given the realities of internal politics that can afflict small groups. But if that’s true and we are obliged to rely on a leadership model that is radically different from the one we see in the NT, I think that might be grounds to wonder (as I indeed do) whether what we are doing really is substantially the same thing as what the NT churches were doing.

    It’s a distressing thought.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  82. Samuel Conner: I have the impression that “careerism” started pretty early in the history of the churches. It’s IMO not a good thing.

    Agreed. “Career” ministers aren’t necessarily “Called” ministers. Going into the ministry does not always equate to being called into it. The Christian Industrial Complex has more who are Career than Called, IMO … and that is not a good thing.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  83. Ken F (aka Tweed): I used to think that I was supposed to be a disciple and do the work of an evangelist.

    In keeping with the spirit of the post the most persuasive Christians I know evangelize through their actions not through argument.

    This is why authoritarianism ultimately fails. You cannot engage in something fully until you approach it of your own free will. Cults notwithstanding, nobody can make a true believer by saying “it’s in the bible” or “because I said so”. Generally all the arguments will fail.

    In Challies world – the literal bible is law and it’s all pre-destined, the leader is there because God ordained he/she should be there. And that was set in stone before time began. What I get from his writing is a form of fatalism – God has ordained it and your only option is compliance.

    We have free will. That means I can say no – and I can decide what doctrine or leader I want to follow.

    Challies plays to his house – those in leadership or headship positions. On the one hand he has a point – no one (leader or otherwise is perfect), but then kills the point by saying, that’s just the way it is.

    There is no accountability because for that strand of faith, there is no free will. Everything is contextualized through an unbreakable chain of authority. It’s a slave coffle where God holds creation in an iron grip.

    I’m opting for freedom.

    “I got no strings to hold me down
    To make me fret, or make me frown
    I had strings, but now I’m free
    There are no strings on me”
    -Pinocchio

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  84. Complementarian males have a pornographic fetish with three things. Submission, discipline, and authority. It should be crystal clear to anyone who wasn’t born this morning that these men are creepy as creepy gets. It looks like they get into this business so they can have people who are trapped in their lives and cant tell them no or escape them. If these men were actually trust worthy and respectable they would not need this self serving perversion. They are terrified of living in a world were people can tell them NO and escape them. Most likely because they know they are creeps who anyone in their right mind would want to tell no and escape.

    The consistent theme with comp pastors is they all need their bottoms kissed and prideful egos stroked 24/7. Anyone who slows down doing this or tells them no is un submissive to authority and needs to be disciplined.

    Comp pastors are selfish, bratty, creepy, full-blown perverts.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  85. Chuck: In one scene, Lasso is walking down the street and three fans from the local pub blast him with all sorts of obscenities. In response, he simply says with a smile: “I appreciate your opinion and hope we’ll have your support in the next game.”

    No defensiveness. No push back. No retaliation.

    Personally, I can’t remember the last time I saw a leader—Christian or non-Christian—respond like this to criticism.

    The first time my husband and I felt burdened to call out a toxic church situation we’d encountered, ONE of the three pastors there responded like this. About a month later, he announced his resignation, openly saying he was doing it for the sake of his family. (One of the numerous problems in that church was burnout.)

    What does it say about church culture when those who respond to criticism like (dare I say it) Jesus would are driven out?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  86. I think often Wild Honey that pastor’s set themselves up by not being vulnerable and transparent to their flock. There is a facade that says because I am the pastor, I have it all figured out. That’s not reality. Congregations also have unrealistic expectations of their leaders too and this is a setup for abuse and hurt on both sides.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  87. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    … was ruminating along this train of thought, because … steamrolling right over a grown adult’s agency seems to be the thing, so that SOMEONE, the steamroller, can have their way with the completely pliable target. Using theology, in religious venues.

    Then today, this discourse seems to veer in the direction of certain disparate leaders described almost as incels. Socially maladjusted, craving control over whomever gets in their range. Maybe nice to start with, but a corner is turned with stealth and subtly – “in a manner that is so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe”. Keith Rainiere is like that. Difficult to prosecute since grown adults willingly follow – even unto death, in his case.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  88. Chuck: Congregations also have unrealistic expectations of their leaders too and this is a setup for abuse and hurt on both sides.

    Indeed. From my long journey through SBC life, I observed this several times. Preachers are too often expected to be pastor, teacher, and administrator. If they slip up in any area, there are those in the pew who will be on their case. Some congregations have reputations of being “preacher eaters” and the word gets out to ministers in an area to avoid them like COVID. A good pastor doesn’t have a chance if they run up against the prominent and powerful in a church which might not like his method or message, even if both are from God. Not everything that ails a church can be attributed to the pulpit; the pew is often at the root of the evil.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  89. Chuck: There is a facade that says because I am the pastor, I have it all figured out. That’s not reality. Congregations also have unrealistic expectations of their leaders too and this is a setup for abuse and hurt on both sides.

    It takes a lot of skill to prevent power trips in churches. Structure can concentrate power—the One Great Man with a Cabal and Covenant model.

    I’ve seen lay persons abuse a clergy member to a point where he quit. He made the “mistake” of succeeding a super popular guy, and a small bunch of people punished him for not being his predecessor. The way to help prevent that is to have an interim, but otherwise members and volunteers must help protect clergy from those situations instead of letting them handle it solo.

    It’s healthier to spread responsibilities around, hold regular congregational meetings with actual voting, disclose the finances, and generally make sure that many voices are heard all the time, in big and small decisions.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  90. Wild Honey,

    “No defensiveness. No push back. No retaliation.

    Personally, I can’t remember the last time I saw a leader—Christian or non-Christian—respond like this to criticism.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i saw Bill Moyers (the journalist-not Maher) do this, when faced with someone with a mic machine gunning gotcha questions. so professional. the antagonist just sort of melted away, bewildered.

    just love bill moyers.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  91. Max: Amen. I’ve sat under excellent preachers/teachers, but they weren’t good pastors. They knew how to impart the Word, but didn’t love or care for people as they ought. Seminary produces preachers but the office of “pastor” is a spiritual gift … IMO, few preachers in America are pastors in the true sense of that calling.

    #metoo
    And few American preachers in the United Arab Emirates.
    @John Folmar

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  92. Ken F ( aka Tweed): Until this morning I had never looked at Challies’ twitter account. Here is what he put on his front page:
    “Note: This is a ‘one-way’ account in which I broadcast tweets but do not look at or respond to replies.”
    That statement speaks volumes to me.

    His blog isn’t much better:

    “How Do I Get In Touch With You?
    All that info is here. I like to get email though, because of the constraints on my time, I can’t always reply.”

    He reminds me of Wayne Grudem. I am sure he is a busy dudebro, but the message I receive is: “Hey, I am a really important dudebro and you need to pay attention to my writings, but I have no intention of interacting with anyone who can’t further my climb up the celebrity ladder.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  93. dee: You mentioned c Challies support of Mahaney (“notwithstanding”.) Challies is exactly the type of leader (he is some sort of elder) that I eschew and urge my readers to do the same.

    Challies is a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. https://www.gfcto.com/about/pastors
    There was an intern at John Folmar’s church in Dubai who, after leaving Dubai, attended Challies’ church. From time to time I would see comments from him on social media that never failed to express his adulation for Challies. John Folmar taught him well. I quit following him.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  94. Todd Wilhelm: He reminds me of Wayne Grudem. I am sure he is a busy dudebro, but the message I receive is: “Hey, I am a really important dudebro and you need to pay attention to my writings, but I have no intention of interacting with anyone who can’t further my climb up the celebrity ladder.”

    His blog shows a way of getting in contact with him by email:

    Email
    You can email me using this contact form. Please note that if you would like to send a Letter to the Editor or an Ask Me Anything, you should do that by clicking here.

    But it looks like the last time he published a letters-to-the-editer post was more than two years ago, and he only published one ask-me-anything post in the last two and a half years.

    Maybe the “life verse” for New-Calvinism should be Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (ESV, of course)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  95. ishy,

    My own observation is that this style of preaching or writing has the effect similar to milgrim’s experiment. Tim is the lab coat nudging on the readers to apply guilt to themselves.

    Every point he made (supported with bible verse) is like nudging the reader to turn the shock/guilt dial up a notch until the reader submits to his understanding.

    If the reader disagree, Tim can stay aloof and point out that the reader is not disagreeing with him; the reader is disagreeing with God’s words. Just like the lab coat telling the subject he must administer the shock.

    IMO, writings like this are a set up. The piece sounds like an open discussion. He has his own agenda and laid the heavy burden on the reader in the name of God to carry without involving him to provide any pastoral care.

    Been through seminary myself, I 100% agree with Dee that “the best pastors in the world are those… who get people and love them beyond measure.” Not pastors who build the own heaven on earth. No seminary education in the world can put that in a person.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  96. Nick Bulbeck: As someone who is also re-evaluating more or less everything I believe, I’ve really appreciated the contributions here from you both…

    Evaluation (or re-evaluation) of beliefs is healthy. I am not the same person I was at 20 or 30 or even 40, I’ve learned a lot, lost a lot and gained a lot in that time. This might sound odd but my evaluation is coming not out of crisis but at a time of great stability in my life. W. Edward Deming – a pioneer of Total Quality Management – had a list of 14 points to help companies increase quality and productivity. I think that many churches could learn from Deming and his points. One of the key ones for me is “Drive out fear”.
    This doesn’t mean climb the roof of your house without protective gear, it means working a problem rather than being afraid of it, dealing with consequences. Asking questions and not being afraid of the truth.

    Challies likes simple answers – just follow the authority. But true leaders lead through collaboration and teamwork – not fear. Fear motivates only for a while but eventually the rot will set in at the “lower levels” -the leader will lose touch with those he/she ostensibly leads – and this is certainly a root cause to the issues religion faces today.

    Yes we have responsibility and discipline, but it has to be a choice – has to be of your own free will.

    For myself, I’m re-engaging faith not out of fear or because I am told to. No messages from God, no magic words and no one telling me that I have to. Complete free will – as I said previously, we’ll see how it goes.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *