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Question: This is a difficult question, and I want to start out by saying that in no way do I want to believe there is a problem with our pastor and his approach. I keep praying and believing that God is still in control, but sometimes I look at the facts that are presented before me, and in my spirit I feel "something is wrong" with our church.
We have a new pastor. Our church has split once over issues with this pastor. I hear a lot about the pastor being the authority in the church, and he states the split was caused by members not wanting to submit to the pastor's authority. Since the split, we were ok up till now. Tithes are down, and I keep getting complaints from many members that the pastor's messages are not anointed, and I have to agree. We are losing members. People feel like they are not getting fed.
How can I help? God has always put a love in my heart for our pastors. What do you do in this situation? God only knows how many churches have divided and fallen because of division in the church, and I want to be very careful that I am not part of dividing God's people and causing division. I know that God hates division and strife among Christians.
So, as Christians, should we trust and believe that the pastor answers only to God? I know that there have been many pastors and TV evangelists, who have led their flock astray; causing splits within the body of Christ. I would hate to see our church divide again. Our pastor states that it is an issue of authority, but what if he is wrong? What if he is the problem? What do we do as the body of Christ? Should we continue to support his every action? Are we to be passive?
You are right about this being a difficult question. I do not know the facts, except that there is a difference between the pastor, and some of the people in the church. However, I would like to give a few guidelines.
It is true that God has set up the structure of authority in the local church. (1 Thessalonians. 5:12-13, and Hebrews 13:17, for example)
On the other side, God has also established rules for the one in authority. (1 Peter 5:1-3, Acts 20:28, for example)
In a perfect church, the pastor takes his authority with responsibility, knowing that he must give account to God for his actions. Likewise, the members of the church submit themselves to his authority. Both must be motivated by the love of Christ, and not by pride, arrogance, or a rebellious spirit.
Unfortunately, it is true that men in authority have abused their position of rule, and have become arrogant, dictatorial and lacking in love. It has also been true that in other cases, individuals in the church have set themselves in opposition to God, ordained leadership, because of pride, conceit, or a spirit of rebellion. In some cases, we may see some of both in the same church. We must walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. (Galatians 5:15-26)
You indicate that some of the church people have been discussing the problems among themselves. That usually makes matters even worse.
Since you show a genuine concern for the church, I would suggest that you, after considerable prayer, ask your pastor for a personal session with him. With humility and sincerity express your concerns to him alone. Ask him to have prayer with you over this. A true man of God will not consider himself as infallible, and if he is appealed to in a humble way, will often be moved to make changes that may be needed.
You must pray, and even fast, that God will work the problems out. I will pray with you, and ask that God's will, above all, be done in your church.
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