A Broken System

In Mark 10 Jesus says some things the Church needs to revisit:

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”

36 “What is your request?” he asked.

37 They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. 40 But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)

Our current corporate model for congregational rule must be altered to bring it in alignment — not only with this text — with the whole counsel of God. As was pointed out here, the current model places pastors in impossible situations that terrorize and destroy too many good pastors while creating platforms for many who unknowingly struggle with narcissism and who prove to be spiritually abusive and harm the Kingdom with their actions.

This is a systemic problem. It is a function of not understanding biblical authority or headship. True change will occur as the system shifts and frees its prisoners.

This corporate functionality not only needs to redefine authority. It needs to redefine success. It needs to change its measuring matrix.

We will limit our criticism to how the current sytem hurts pastors

  1. In this system pastors are paid to be good (or at least to not to be bad). The problem is that pastors see their own heart and know that they can only allow their congregationj and community to see a false self that was created aout of a need to survive. The trouble is that eventually that lie consumes and destroys them.
  2. The corporate church system feeds pastors narcissism. The President of the first graduating class of the Arrow Leadership Class stated, “All of us at some point stated, ‘God, aren’t you lucky to have me.'” Brene Brown argues that every human wrestles with two voices, “Am I enough,” and “Who do you think you are?” The first is an acknowledgement of of shame that is present in every human. The second is a the response to the narcissistic response that was just quoted above. Both are deadly and throw everyone who encounters them into some sort of funk.
  3. While no system is “spiritual abuse proof,” the corporate church structure breeds spiritual abuse insofar as it is a top down heirarchichal structure. It is much harder to avoid spiritual abuse in this system than some other systems that put a priority on the “priesthood of all believers.” Having said that, when abuse occurs in relational structures it is nearly always devastating. When pastors realize their abusive tendencies, most are are severely rocked to the point of breakdown.