Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Split here, split there, split everywhere

By split, I mean church split not banana split. I have been studying this phenomenon in the ministry of pentecostal pastors. I wondered how come we pentecostals experience a lot of splits and intrigues in the ministry? Fortunately I am no longer holding a congregation and my job today is to fill in their pulpits when they need it. I am thankful that one or two still invite me to come and preach for them even though they have been made aware of my Lutheran views lately. I know it is a solitary road for me. However, my heart aches for them because their churches have been split more than a couple of times, some of them for 4 or 5 times through a span of 10 years of ministry, for example. Their present experience was once mine.

Here is an example, some keen and industrious disciple rises up in the midst as a leader, and before long, that disciple creates an issue in the church. Soon a few families will now move out of the church and follow this leader. Another usual occassion is that a pastor from out of town starts a small congregation right up close to another pentecostal pastor and soon some folk leave the church to join the new one that has begun. I do not deny that there could be lots of valid reasons for leaving the church but why is it so easy in pentecostalism to split a church up? But how come almost no effort is involved in doing this?

The reason is I think two fold. Firstly, in pentecostalism right doctrine is not stressed in the church. In otherwords, pentecostals do not require their pastors to be theologians. The pastors hardly discuss theological issues. They do not warn their congregation that wrong doctrine can hurt them and may destroy one's faith. In pentecostal circles, doctrine is not important, what is important is spiritual experience. The requirement to be a leader is that he is born again and holds some spiritual gift, like tongues and prophecy etc. Because of this, their members find no reason to stop, look and listen before they follow a new leader. They believe anyone has the right to lead so long as that person is manifesting some form of superior spirituality and maybe showing some care and concern for them.

Secondly I think is lack of communal responsibility. Most pentecostal ministers operate their churches like they are CEOs. Though they hate Roman papacy, yet, they are little popes themselves when they act in church. There is a lack of collective community responsibility to each other, both inside the body and outside the body . Have you noticed how many pentecostal churches are independents? Internally there is a lack of clear elder/deacon structure. Externally there is a weak notion that they are their brother's keeper and are responsible to the society they are standing in. This is not taught. The diet of pulpit food centers more on the christian and how to get blessed from Jesus.

One of my friends belong to a major pentecostal denomination and his church was split several times by leaders who found shelter and endorsement from the same denomination my friend belongs to. Don't you find that a wonder, well you could be asleep.

My hope is that my pentecostal friends may wake up and realize that the phenomenon of split frequency is a manifestation of upper level flaw in pentecostal theology and practice.


Anonymous said...

AMEN. i go to a pentacostal church but i think im gonna start goin to a baptist church. pentacostals just focus solely on feel good experiences and what gifts they can recieve. what about what service we can give to others throught Christ?

LPC said...

Yes, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are to be CHrist to our neighbor - this is the motto of Lutherans.

You should go to where the Law and Gospel is rightly presented...

And may God be with you...