by Chip Brogden
I remember getting a call from a pastor of a medium-sized church, and he wanted to take me to dinner. I agreed to meet him because I was flattered, and I was really looking forward to it because he was someone I considered "successful." His church was growing, they had a nice building, he drove a nice car and had nice clothes. I was struggling with all those things so this man was someone I kind of looked up to. I was hoping I could get some words of wisdom or some ideas that would help me become as successful as he was.
So we met for dinner and things are going well. He seems friendly and I am just on the verge of asking him, "What is the secret to your success?" The words were on the tip of my tongue, and then this pastor broke down right in front me. His personal life was a mess, his church was a mess, and he wanted me to take over his services for a couple of weeks so he and his wife could take some time off and put their marriage back together. I nodded and listened but inside I was thinking, "My God! Here I am looking to this man as an example of success, and he is a nervous wreck." And that meeting taught me something. I learned not to judge success by the outward appearance of things. I saw that pastors are just as clueless as anyone else, but they have to convince themselves and everyone around them that they really have it all together. Most of the time they do not, and you can only be a hypocrite for so long before the whole things takes its toll on you.
I like to teach, and I have a heart for pastors. If it were up to me I would probably be working with burned out pastors. But God had something else in mind. "Leave them alone, Chip - they are blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall in the ditch." And God showed me that until a blind leader falls into a ditch, they cannot be healed. He can't have his eyes opened until he realizes he is blind and has no business trying to lead others. My efforts to help them by taking over their pulpit for a week or two was like treating cancer with a band-aid.
Pastors aren't bad people. Pastors, for the most part, are good people who become trapped in a bad system. It's the religious system that is at fault. Yet this religious system was created by people - well-intentioned, good-hearted people who thought they were doing something for God. And now this thing called "Churchianity" has become a monster, a grotesque creation of our own hands, and now we can't control it; IT controls us. It masters us, all the while tricking us into thinking that when we serve IT then we are serving God. The work of the Lord becomes more important than the Lord of the Work.
How far we have fallen from the days when people could look at disciples of Jesus and would notice that they had been with Him. They had been with Jesus. Now we look at religious folk dressed up and going out to eat lunch on Sunday and all we can say of them is that they have been to church.