Sunday, July 1, 2007

Merchandising the Anointing

This letter was in response and agreement to an article by Terry Somerville, called Merchandising the Anointing.

Dear Terry,

Great article on merchandising the annointing. I think it was for that reason that Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. Mark 7:36.

I have seen the most faithful subject themselves to telling everyone about the big and small miracles of God in order to "encourage" others. But in reality some use these stories as endorsements for their own ministry.

Even further, this practice of merchandising has gone on throughout church history: one of the key objections that was at the beginnings of the reformation was the idea of indulgences. Nothing has really changed today as a pastor, a building and a program has to get paid for somehow. Not quite how Paul taught the elders from Ephesus. Acts 20:34 (NIV) You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

It's sad that the church has put a stranglehold on the idea of paid ministers because of their interpretation of the meaning of double honor and yet completely ignore the above passage.

Here's the mindset in the modern day church planting movement. I'm going to plant a church and after I work hard enough to gather in 50 people around my personality, I will be able to get a salary by teaching them tithing. So what if it's single moms, young couples just starting out in life, the elderly on limited pensions, ... I will teach them the word and visit them for a fee, oops I mean double honor.

I've been there and done that and I don't think it is less than what I see on TV with preachers merchandising the annointing. "As a donor you will receive this beautiful boxed set of ..." The only difference is the money that is being taken from the hands of the "weak" goes to a pew or cushioned seats or a nice car for the pastor.

I find it odd that we have homes that can more than adequately, even comfortably fit the church and yet somehow the mindset is that we would rather pour money into a building that is used incredibly inefficiently and a shepherd who is more like a CEO.

You don't need to pay someone if there are only 20 people to care for. How many cell group leaders get paid and yet they do the real bulk of equiping, caring, encouraging... Meanwhile pastors running the corporation need to get paid to tell cell leaders to lead their groups. And oh my, heaven forbid, if people really learned to love one another in their homes and experience Jesus in their midst just like the early church did, they might have the audacity to wonder why they need the corporation service at all.

Merchandising the annointing: of this there is no end. And God's people love it so!


Sam Clemance said...

Hey David! It's been a while how are things? Anyway, would I be false in thinking that perhaps your past experience with the (small c) church has left you a bit jaded? I know very little about what you went through and I myself have gone through a lot in the recent while.
Anyway, I personally believe there is a lot of benefit in gathering together in a larger corporate setting on a regular basis. Do you think that the Bible leaves us with a picture of what the church should look like from an organizational point of view?
I hear a lot of people say that we should go back to the snapshot the NT gives us while I think that it is only a snapshot and shows us more of what the church looked like from a spiritual and relational point of view. I think God gives us all kinds of creative license beyond that.
All of that said a church with no buildings and no "Pastors" would likely be very creative in our environment. Sounds a bit like the revolutionary movement that George Barna talks about "people who have left the church in order to be the church."

David Grant said...

Hi Sam,
Nice hearing from you as well. I guess some would say I'm jaded and likely in what I'm writing these days certainly may have that feel.

What I'm captured with is that there are more ways of understanding God in our lives than what any particular doctrine or place or individual can ever offer us.

It's not that there is anything wrong with any particular moment that happens in any one setting, it's when that setting becomes a substitute for hearing the Father.

Most systems cannot give us the fullness of what God is desiring for us. Jesus modelled a non model that revealed each day as something that is alive and fresh and vibrant. One day he would speak to thousands, on another day he would raise the dead with only a few people to see it.

We tend to make any one or two things that He did and enshrine them into thee method for all time.

I am choosing these days to reflect on all my experiences, both good and bad, and examine them in the light of what I am learning these days. It's rather fun to say wow I was in such a pharasaical box that many things that the father wanted to reveal to me could not happen because I knew better than Him.

It's not about having it all figured out but learning to live in the daily awe and joy of loving Him and hearing His voice. I trust this will be your experience as well.

Keep in touch.

David Grant said...

Here'es a link to a free book about the possibility of not rigidly enforcing corporate worship. It's called "Custom and Command."

Sam Clemance said...

Thanks for your response. I can appreciate what you are saying. I just thought I would also mention that I enjoy reading some of the things you've posted. I enjoy reading things that challenge the way I think and cause me to either rethink what I believe or strengthen what I already know to be true. At any rate you'll probably see me around here once in a while