God has chosen to bring all people to the knowledge of Christ. He is not willing that any people should perish. If we keep this focus in mind, we can better understand why God chooses and sometimes allows what we would perceive as unfavorable events.The following four articles deal with the topic of a Clergy Fall out that the modern day church has experienced.
The Great Clergy Fall Out – Part 1; The Greatest Set-up of all Time
The Great Clergy Fall Out – Part 2; Reggie White had the Answer
The Great Clergy Fall Out – Part 3; The Reason for the Season
How Long with the Church be Desolate
The Great Clergy Fall Out Part 1; The Greatest Set-up of all Time
ave you ever held a job or position in which you felt (set-up) or possibly taken advantage of?I recall a career change in which I moved my family and endured many unpleasant things for what seemed like a great cause. In fact, I was recruited for the position and believed that this job would make a huge impact on the future of many lives around the world. During that three year endeavor I realized that the position was a ‘sacrificial’ type position where I felt (set-up) and/or used in a way that was unfair. It was not until years later that I saw the fuller reason for my transition. After the full story was told, I felt better about the sacrifice. However, I had to do a lot of soul searching. On completion of that soul search I realized that God actually uses sacrifices to achieve a greater cause, even if that sacrifice is my career, job, or ministry.I learned first hand of what the word sacrifice means:“The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”
This same type of set-up or situation has been occurring the past few years for tens of thousands of ministers, churches, and congregations around the world.The full reality of this set-up has not yet been explained to all the people who have been through the sacrifice.On one hand, the set-up or situation has caused a lot of confusion, frustration, and misunderstanding between ministers who feel like they have been mistreated by congregations. On the other hand, many congregations have felt that they have been misled by a minister or clergy member who only cared about personal gain, finances, or self glory.
This situation has caused tens of thousands of ministers to leave the church, and in some cases caused ministers to act in a foolish manner before the entire world.This situation and set-up has, and will, continue to cause shame among many churches.Through this introduction I hope I have gotten your attention and curiosity as to what this set-up or situation is!The set-up is described in Zechariah 11:16 (NIV) “For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs.”The Message Bible states it this way: “I'm going to install just such a shepherd in this land--a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He'll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.”
This passage in Zechariah has been God’s fair warning that there was going to be a ‘set-up’ of ministers who would literally do the opposite of what a good minister should do.If you read the context of Zechariah you will find that God would create this set-up as a means to get all of humanity focused on the ‘Only’ Shepherd; Jesus Christ. In other words there would be a ‘sacrifice’ made to get every person to recognize that no church, no religion, no denomination, no minister, no congregation can replace the Great Shepherd; Jesus Christ. The set-up that was created would include giving ministers the position, even though they would seek their own desires. If this set-up is as true as scripture proclaims it to be; we can better understand and rationalize the recent behaviors by both clergy and congregants. Clergy members have been caught and paraded before the world doing the bizarre and unthinkable. At the same time congregants become irate at the behavior of clergy they put their hope in. Before we rationalize all of this, let me take you one step further down the road of the greatest set-up of all time. God continues by stating in II Thessalonians 2:4 that before Christ returns, Satan himself will come into the sanctuary and act as if he is God.(I think I met him at some churches I recently attended).It states: “Who Opposes and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shows himself as God. “II Thes. 2:4
We need to understand that God has one purpose in mind before the great finale of this present world, and that purpose is; “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”On the pathway to get to this result many sacrifices have already taken place including the humiliation and death of His son Jesus Christ. Jesus was paraded before the world, and rejected by the world. There have been many more sacrifices along the way, but one of the final sacrifices will be the ministers and physical church structure as we have known them in the past will come to an end and be removed from being the ‘go-between” between humanity and God. In essence, the tables have turned, and now religion will be paraded and rejected before the world. Matthew 24:1-2 is where Jesus foretells that the physical church structures that we adore will come to an end during the last days.
This message is a sobering thought to many people; but in it’s basic from it is simply a sacrificial position that meets the definition of the word sacrifice; “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”The question is will people take this sacrifice in a mature and spiritual manner, or will they go out kicking and screaming, bringing more shame and confusion into the sacrifice than what is needed?
The reality of the modern church age is that Christ Jesus has become secondary, while our own pomp, religion, local gatherings, and moral religion have become primary. A sovereign God was not surprised by the behavior of the religious people during Jesus’ first advent, nor is He surprised by the present day love affair we have for all that we have built and adored in the name of religion. The difference is that this time, it will not be His son sacrificed or ‘set-up’. Jesus will be the victor while all else is used and consumed to bring every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. Everything else is wood, hay and stubble and will be consumed with fire as described in (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
The Great Clergy Fall-out; Part 2; Reggie White had the Answer
Last month I shared the Biblical reality of why so many clergy have been removed from their position; some voluntarily and some involuntarily. The basis for the article was found in Zechariah 11:16 (NIV) “For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs.”The Message Bible states it this way: “I'm going to install just such a shepherd in this land--a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He'll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.”
This follow-up article is intended to answer the question of “What are we to do, if this verse is even remotely connected to the reality of a great clergy fall-out?”As stated last month, God takes no pleasure in seeing people get hurt, abused, or mistreated. However, because God’s ultimate goal is to redeem humanity and see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, He is trying to get people back to the single purpose of our humanity; salvation through Jesus Christ.
I believe former NFL great Reggie White addressed the question at hand.In an ESPN tribute to Reggie White it was reported that a few years before Reggie’s death he voluntarily decided to quit ministering in churches as he realized that the Churches were less interested in Christ’s message, and more interested in using his fame to draw people and attention.Reggie, much like Christ, made a voluntary decision not to go back into many churches, because they were not interested in Jesus Christ. More than likely Reggie progressively started seeing more issues in the church as he sought more of Jesus Christ.In fact, Reggie had to realize that his senior pastor of his younger days was caught taking some of the money from the Church burnings during the early 1990s to purchase illegal drugs.Reggie’s pastor left the church in-voluntarily, and Reggie left voluntarily; nonetheless they both left or were part of the clergy fall-out.
Upon voluntarily leaving the Church, Reggie, much like Christ took a lot of abuse by the religious leaders who accused him of not loving the church anymore. The fact was Reggie loved Christ and what Christ stood for, more than what many call the church. It is amazing in religious communities how much people judge one another based on their view of Church, but could care less how much they love Jesus Christ. As part of the tribute to Reggie, Sarah White reported that within weeks of his death Reggie had a dream in which he found what he called ‘a treasure. ’In that dream Reggie had two words revealed to him and the two words meant ‘Jesus Redeems.’
So as a true Minister ‘The Minister of Defense’Reggie White did exactly as Christ would have him1) He confessed that Christ was more real than the man made church, and 2) The greatest treasure of the Church is the simple acknowledgement that Jesus redeems humanity, not the Church.It is amazing to me that Wisconsin had access to one of the greatest clergy of all time in Reggie White; yet just like Christ, Reggie did not come packaged like people wanted him to come packaged. As soon as he stepped out in true love of Christ many people ridiculed him and judged him based on their religion and love for the Church, not His love for Christ.
Now, back to the question! What is a person/clergy member to do if there is a great clergy fall-out occurring?I belief the answer is as Reggie White found out;1) Confess that Jesus Christ is more important than the Church, a pastor, leadership, or the church building itself and 2) Recognize that God’s concern through Jesus Christ is the redemption of humanity.
If a clergy or church leader is at all interested in salvaging what is left, they will start falling in love with Christ by confessing we have built many programs, processes, and structures that all come up short of bringing people to their only redemption, which is through Jesus Christ. The Bible (Acts 4:12) is true when it states “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." All the prayer meetings, all the Bible studies, all the moral crusades, all the missions trips, all the church garage sales, all the church fund raisers, all the free food, all the church building projects are secondary to the simplicity of leading people directly to Jesus Christ.I believe this is the very reason that a recent report in the Middle East stated that millions of people are coming to Jesus Christ through Dreams.God is tired of waiting for His message of His son to be secondary to our processes. Millions of people are getting a direct feed from Heaven through dreams, so that God’s desire to see as many people saved as possible can happen.
Recent research shows that that 75% of American churches no longer believe in the blood atonement of Christ and only 15% of church attendees state that they have God as their first priority in life. Just these two simple studies is enough evidence for most novices to realize that we are not teaching the central truth of redemption/salvation in Christ. No matter how many moral issues I conquer, no matter how many people I feed, no matter how many verses I memorize, no matter how many Board meetings I attend, no matter how much money I give away, if I do not have the understanding of Christ’s love of redemption through the blood atonement of Christ; I have a humanistic form of love. This humanistic form of love will lead people to many things, but not to the love of Christ and His redemptive power.
I trust at this time you may recognize the need that God has to move aside the people who have side-tracked the valuable price that was paid through his Son’s death upon the cross. I would say, God will have final say; but that final say will not sway from the scriptural truth that… Jesus will be the victor while all else is used and consumed to bring every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. Everything else is wood, hay and stubble and will be consumed with fire as described in (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
The Great Clergy Fall Out - Part 3; The Reason for the Season
The last few months I have been writing on the topic of ‘The Clergy Fall-out’.Since writing these articles many more clergy have been swapped out of the ministry.Even though I have had the spiritual insight to write these articles, I stand in amazement at the reality of this fall-out. On one hand I feel excited as the revelation of God’s Word is coming true, but on the other hand the fear of how painful the process has become echoes in my mind.
Recently I was encouraged and reminded that the reason for the Christmas Season as well as this Season of the Clergy Fall-Out is all aligned with the salvation of humanity.Christmas is the season where Christ came into our World so that all of humanity could receive salvation. Pure and simple; Christmas is about the salvation of humanity through Jesus Christ. The recent Clergy fall-out is also aligned with salvation and is best explained in the parable of the ‘Shrewd Steward’ found in Luke 16:1-9.
Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg; 4I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' " 'Eight hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' 'A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,' he replied. He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.(Luke 16:1-9)
Re-read the parable and imagine that 1.) The steward represents a clergy member or possibly a church. 2.) The possessions of the minister or steward represents the abundance of resources the modern day church has access to through Jesus, people, knowledge, scripture, and money. 3.) The examination of the affairs of the minister or steward is the Judgment of the church before the return of Christ; found in 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 2 and 3.)4.) The wastefulness of the master’s possessions is failure to exchange all the possessions into the proper return on investment called salvation. 5.) The removal from the position is a fall from power, or a clergy fall out, 6) The only option for the minister or church falling from power is to start writing off the sin or debt of sinners so that the church or clergy can have their proper place in internal habitation.
In summary:In this parable the shrewd or unjust steward may represent a minister or church that had all the resources at their access. However, the time came for the Lord to examine the affairs of the Church. Upon the examination he heard that the minister or church had wasted the true possessions of the church. In essence, the minister and/or church were not reaping the return on investment the master expected; salvations. During the Master’s examination the minister or church realizes that they must give an account for their management of the possessions. Knowing that the management has not been quite what the shrewd Master would expect (Matthew 25:26-27), they come to the conclusion that they should exchange the way they are managing the churches affairs, before it is taken away from them. In other words…they recognize there will soon be a parting of ways, or a great fall-out. The minister or Church concludes that in order to have a dwelling place (in eternity) they will need to start making friends with sinners by forgiving them their debt. The people whose sins and debt they need to forgive is a combination of; 1) People in their midst who are still trying to pay their religious debt on their own; and this debt keeps compounding because the steward never helped them understand the redemption in salvation. 2) People representing the poor, crippled, blind, and lame from the highways and byways of life who are the last in life who will now become first so that God’s banquet table will be full. (Luke 14:21)
It should be noted that after the shrewd steward exchanged his previous management style with one of befriending sinners, the Master (God) now commends the shrewd steward. He went from being a rejected steward headed for a clergy fall-out to being a commended steward.
I hope you can step back and get excited that God had pre-arranged a means and method to get sinners to come to the banquet table. However, there first had to have a falling out with ministers and churches that have been mismanaging His affairs; salvation.Please do not take mismanaging in this parable as a huge negative, but as a fine tuning to get all of us on the importance of salvation by forgiving the sins of those indebted to the world. Through this parable it would appear we have a license to begin a new management style of exchanging eternal wealth (salvation) with sinners as those who have temporal wealth. When we embrace sharing the Gospel by ‘writing off the debt of sinners,’ we not only welcome sinners into heaven, but we get the exchange of their gratitude, and whatever comes along with that gratitude. God is creating one of the greatest shifts and exchanges this world has ever known; by allowing us to write off the debt of sinners by sharing the salvation message.
This Christmas Season, let’s get excited about the rearrangement of managing the salvation process.
How Long Will the Church be Desolate?
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." ~Matthew 13:45-46