James MacDonald responded in the comment section to the 2nd of my two posts on his hyperbolic Congregational Government is from Satan post. I trust he won't mind me copying it here and responding to it below:
You seem like a pretty funny guy and I like that. You also seem pretty comfortable with overstatement etc. to make your points, I like that too. Yes I can be bombastic at times, does that make me the kettle or the pot? 🙂 My son pointed out your blog to me, Apparently he left a comment and has been following you with appreciation for some time – blog and twitter.
My post had nothing to do with WBC and we surely do trust the Lord in the outcome. There was much division in the church but hardly a word against Harvest's willingness to help when invited. Though we have six campuses only one is a former church that joined with us. We frequently have churches coming to us in their struggle to survive, direct them elsewhere and move on. We have never approached one ourselves, ever. 5000+ churches in North America close every year. I was in a meeting last week with a number of pastors in Chicago trying to discern how best to deal with this crisis in our own city. How do you believe this best handled?
I grew up in a congregational church in London Ontario and my first two churches were congregational. My convictions against that model are not new or recently inflamed. We are working with another church right now on the same issue and learning how best to serve their need while allowing them freedom under whatever system of government they use to determine their own future.
I appreciate celebrity bloggers, I realize you did not gain your level of influence without a lot of hard work and that your passion was probably content related with the greater influence you have coming as an unintended byproduct. I hope you steward your influence well and use it always for the benefit of Christ's great kingdom. Please pray the same for me,
PS feel free to email me if you want to talk more – maybe God in His sovereignty wants me to have an Arminian friend
Thank you for taking the time to respond here in the midst of what, I'm sure, is an always busy schedule. I've followed your blog for a number of years, cheered with you when you successfully battled cancer, enjoyed a number of your posts – and had my blood pressure raised by others. No doubt as fellow Canadians, our sense of humour (note the correct spelling, eh!) is similar. I'd be the kettle to your pot.
I take you at your word that your post had nothing to do with WBC. Note that I have struck through that text on the previous post and added a link to this one.
Oddly enough, as the former elder of a once thriving / church-planting Baptist church that sits 60 feet from my loft – where now less than four dozen folk attend on an average weekend – I don't disagree with your opinion regarding the congregational model of church governance. But I do believe, in both our cases, it is opinion based on our experiences – rather than a church polity designed by the Enemy or with no support in the Scriptures. (Note that I affirm episcopal governance with the caveat that real discipleship is taking place in that church environment.)
I also stand behind what I said at the end of the first post,
In my never humble opinion, the bottom line problem with the church in the West is not church governance. As I have pontificated here ad nauseum, the problem is discipleship and the lack thereof in the church.
The Great Commission is to “go and make disciples.” It isn’t to build big churches or large platforms for big egos. Nor is it to command and control the congregation for the “sake of the church.” Disciples are made in direct personal relationship with the discipler. If the church was creating actual disciples I wonder whether we would need to worry about church governance.
To answer your question about 5,000 churches closing, I'd point you at my post, More Disciples, Fewer Leaders, Please, where I quote your fellow Chicago import, Scot McKnight. McKnight is responding to a question about what leadership books he'd recommend. He says this,
…I want to put my idea on the line and see where it leads us. We have one leader, and his name is Jesus. I want to bang this home with a quotation from Jesus from Matthew 23, where he seems to be staring at the glow of leadership in the eyes of his disciples, and he does nothing short of deconstructing the glow:
But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth “father,” for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Instead of seeing myself as a leader, I see myself as a follower. Instead of plotting how to lead, I plot how to follow Jesus with others. Instead of seeing myself at the helm of some boat—and mine is small compared to many others—I see myself in the boat, with Jesus at the helm.
Again, in my never humble opinion, the crisis in the church is not leadership; it's discipleship and that is the reason those churches are closing. Watch this video from Chris Wright who says it far better than I ever will – he's being interviewed by my wife and business partner, Imbi Medri:
Later in the More Disciples post, I quote Scot again,
…leadership too often places the pastor or some person in the front and having others be guided (and following) that person, and that, I dare say, distorts the entire gospel. Jesus was willing to say that his followers didn’t have a rabbi of their own, didn’t have a human father in a position of ultimate authority, and they didn’t have an instructor who was their teacher. They had one rabbi and one instructor, and his name was Jesus, and he was Messiah. They had one father, and he was Creator of all. They were to see themselves as brothers, not leaders. That’s straight from the lips of Jesus. [Emphasis Added]
The Celebrity-Driven Church may build big buildings filled with smiling people but as Willow's Reveal study showed, it appears not to build disciples. I'll unpack this more in my upcoming series on the C-DC. My words from the quoted post on disciple making,
How did Jesus make disciples – he lived with them for three years, through thick and thin, through their thick headedness and their moments of great clarity, through their closeness and their rejection of him. He didn't set up a training school for leaders, or preach from an elevated pulpit or bring in Roman business and political leaders to advise his disciples how to lead.
Jesus lived in the midst of his disciples and the impact of that still resonates. Globally.
In closing, a couple of my Calvinist buddies (and I have many who put up with me) thought your "celebrity blogger" line was rather amusing. I confess that it reminded me of Brian McLaren when he called me a "Master Blogger" in response to my critique of his New Kind of Christianity. His was a little more double entendre than yours.
But trust me, as my 20 year old daughter, Kaili said to her mother when she read your comment, "Dad's not a celebrity? He has fewer than 700 500 followers on Twitter." We will all be hearing more about and from that girl. Assuming I don't ground her forever for her impertinence. 🙂 (And I do have under 700, Kai!)