In the Church, we have leaders who guide and help us make decisions. They provide counsel to keep you on track with the teachings of the Bible. They help you get through hard times and assist you in making decisions for your health, family, and career. The people who hold positions of authority in the church are making life and death decisions for entire groups of people.
But here is where it gets complicated, the way a leader is chosen is badly broken. A person can be assigned or “chosen” for a position that they have no competence for, no background check and no valid vetting process. The way they are chosen falls under just a few very weak processes that I have defined below.
The, “I’ve Been Watching You”, process: This one is easy to understand, the preacher and/or direct supporters assign a person a position because they have been watching that person and can see that they are good at doing something.
There was a guy at church, (married), who was great with kids, so they decided that he should be the new “Youth Minister”. He took over the youth group and ended up sleeping with one of the underage teens. The short story is this, the girl was in an abusive home and lost her ability to have healthy relationships with men. The “Youth Minister” was untrained, immature and out of control.
The, “I Was Called”, process: This one is very complicated since it implies that there is a divine calling. The person “FEELS” that they have a calling to be in a certain position. They feel it in their heart that they have been called to serve in a special way.
One such person decided to counsel married couples. I witnessed a session of his counseling where the wife was being abused by the husband. The counselor wanted them to stay together (divorce is not the goal). So, the conversation is focused on keeping the wife in that home. The man is asked to “do better”, the wife is asked to, “support her man”.
The, “Always Here”, process: This is the simplest to understand. If you never miss a service, are always on time, there every Sunday (early even) and never miss the bonus days, then you are the best person for the job (almost any job). You are seen as a good Christian based solely on attendance. Do this long enough and you will also receive a title of authority like “Elder”.
So we put elders and preachers in place due to “time spent on the job”. I’ve seen people pour out their hearts about their financial problems to these people. The response they are told is to give more money to the church to receive a blessing that will free them from financial stress. I once watched an evangelist tell the congregation to charge a thousand dollars on their credit cards to plant a seed of financial freedom. Think about that for a moment, the advice to a household that is living check to check is to charge $1000 dollars to their credit card.
The, “Work with What We Got”, process: This applies to small churches where the numbers aren’t there in the congregation. People are assigned positions simply because they are available. This is the most troubling because there is no semblance of any vetting.
I once watched a church with a very small congregation in a poor area somewhat shocked as they watched the preacher give a large cash gift to a random person sitting in the congregation. He placed an envelope filled with money from previous collections under a random seat. The lucky person gets a stack of cash and the other people get understanding. They suddenly understand the level of thought that goes into the money that they struggled to give from what little money they don’t have.
I’ve learned that you have to stay aware of the people around you in the church. You can’t just believe them because they say so. They are not God so don’t give them the authority of God. Practice critical thinking skills and read your Bible.