Monday, June 29, 2015

Do we give our pastors too much praise and attention?

Some of you may have heard about Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham's grandson, who resigned from pastoring Coral Ridge church in South Florida last week.  Apparently, he was having an affair. I don't know the details and don't want to know.  I used to go to Coral Ridge when I was a child, and I have very fond memories of Sunday School and Summer Bible camp where I learned all those great Bible Stories that stuck with me through the years (Especially those years I was away from God).  Though Tullian was not the pastor at that time, it really saddened me to hear of his fall.  Just a few years ago, Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale also resigned for the same reasons. His church was even bigger, what they call a mega church these days. I also attended Calvary a few times when I was down in Florida visiting family. I highly respected both these pastors and truly believed them to be Godly men. I believe they were at one time truly committed to following the Lord. So, what happened? 

I call it Celebrity Syndrome.  And don't think you or I are immune to it. It's in our human nature to want to be admired, known, famous, praised, maybe even worshiped. It goes back to the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the promise they would be like God.   Many churches these days, particularly the large ones, treat their pastors like gods. I've seen it over and over. The pastor knows everything. He is the supreme leader of the church, the man on stage every week, the man everyone wants to talk to, get counsel from, get prayed over by. He becomes, essentially, like a Hollywood celebrity in that church. Pastor Bob Coy used to have body guards escorting him around because of death threats on him. Talk about feeling important!!  Frankly, I don't see how all that fame and prestige would not go to someone's head.  Then once their pride kicks in, Satan knows he's got them. All he has to do is dangle some temptation in front of them, some gorgeous young woman who treats him like the god he believes he is.  (Obviously his wife at home doesn't appreciate him like he deserves, or so he thinks. Just speculating here)  And then, he gives in, and the deed is done.  Yet, he doesn't want to give up his fame, so he hides his wrongdoings and basically leads a double life. I don't know if that's the case in Tullian's situation, but Bob Coy hid is infidelity for years. Can you imagine preaching every Sunday knowing you are defying God during the week?

Anyway, I'm not judging these men. I'm actually saying that all of us are subject to this type of fall, especially if we find ourselves elevated to celebrity status.  But are we supposed to treat our pastors this way? I don't think it's Biblical to make the pastor the absolute head of a church. He has a role to play as pastor, shepherd and teacher but that is only one of many roles in the church:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ Ephesians 4:11

There's also a host of other gifts in the church that are supposed to be operating through the believers: 

Words of Wisdom
Words of Knowledge
Discerning of Spirits

Do you know who the prophet(s) are in your church?  What about the evangelists? How about the teachers? The discerners? The healers?  I don't. All I know is the pastor. 

I guess my point is that the running of the church should be divided among several people, each with particular gifts for the work to which they are assigned.  There should never be one man set above any other. In fact, it would be best to have several different Bible teachers alternate on Sunday morning instead of always having one person give the sermon.  That way each person can keep his fellow worker accountable for their work, their lifestyle, their ministry, and can be there should they enter a time of temptation or struggle. 

Also, it is my strong opinion that Christianity is not a spectator sport!  Everyone in the church should get involved in the ministries of the church and use their unique God-given gifts to help grow the believers into true disciples and then take that message to the world. That's how they did it in the New Testament. Perhaps it is something we should follow as well.



  1. Some good stuff here. I've always attended small churches, so yes I knew who did what. Larger churches seem so impersonal, too many services with no real interactions. Yes, we should be a part of the ministry, according to our calling. I was a Sunday School teacher for over twenty years....taking a few months off now and then, so that I could attend the services to refresh my spirit and be taught. Sharing!

  2. I, too, was very sad to hear about this pastor's affair. It hit much too close to home since my own brother who was a pastor also had an affair with a congregation member that ended up destroying our family and ripped the church apart. There are still horrible consequences we're paying because of his actions. I agree that we all to often put our pastor's on a pedestal and think they can do no wrong. They're 'God's man' so we're supposed to trust them implicitly, right?? I've learned the hard way not only with my brother but also with a former pastor that that is not the case. What breaks my heart even more is how these types of thing reflect on God and His people to those who are unsaved. How it must crush Him when He and His work are ridiculed because of man's weakness. Thank you for bringing this awkward topic up for discussion.

  3. I hadn't heard about this until this post. It's sad on so many levels...from the effect on his family to the larger effect on his church and Christians in general. It's clear from his and his wife' separate statements that they have severe marital issues (he says he turned to someone else after his wife refused to stop her affair). I wonder if he (and other fallen pastors) were reading their Bible and praying daily. If the pastors (and us) are plugged into God through his Word everyday, would we turn to other people/things for comfort during a crisis? Ugh, so sad... :(

  4. I agree with your post in totality , MaryLu - often, pastors are given too much importance in the minds of congregation members (especially in the mega churches). Alternating of pastors on a regular basis and the use of more congregation members (based on their gifts) in running the church seems a feasible solution.

    The music program in a church has always "spoken" to me, and been as important as, the pastor to me. The mega churches offer so many activity opportunities for the entire family, yet, I feel the same as Debbie - they are less personal, there is less interaction among congregation members, and for me - it isn't as easy to feel the Spirit when sitting in such a large building, watching church services on a screen or possibly in a 2nd sanctuary elsewhere, etc.. The fall of our pastors, and other members of church leadership happen in all size churches (we lost a wonderful music director for the same reason within the past year) - however, I do feel that it is more likely to happen when pastors are elevated to the extremes you mentioned.

    Glad you're enjoying your vacation - thanks for the pics!!

    Love, prayers, and hugs!!

  5. Amen to EVERY word of your post! That's probably why God allowed the apostle Paul to have a thorn in his side ...

  6. It's all I can say is AMEN!!! =) I love reading what you post!! Keep spreading the Word of God.

  7. MaryLu, what a good word for all of us! I am sure you've hit the main nail on the head. The other nail is that, unfortunately, most of us do not pray enough for our pastor leaders and bind Satan's enticements and plans against him and his family.

    BTW, I am rereading The Raven Saint. What a precious heroine, Grace, you have penned. Keep up the good work, MaryLu. I am positive you are touching many lives with your stories and your blogs.
    Elva Cobb Martin, Pres., ACFW-SC Chapter

  8. What a sad sad day with this all going on. It must be so hard for the 'lost' to find Jesus, when sin is dropping from everywhere. We understand that we're saved by grace but they don't understand that, yet.... We as Christians need to be clinging to that old rugged cross in these times.