Thursday, April 10, 2014

megachurch pastor moral failure: a beef about three sacred church cows..and call to blow up them up

Yet another sad story about yet another megachurch pastor's moral failure.
I found one quote interesting, and telling, on several levels:

“You know he did a lot of good,” said Mitch Guetler, a church member. “He helped out a lot of people and I’m just really sad but like he always said up on stage—don’t follow him, follow Christ. So, you know, he’s a sinner like the rest of us and it’s just too bad.  (link)
My observations are not  a judgment on  the pastor or parishioner, but commentary (judgement) on church culture/language/assumed ecclesiology...sacred cows:

1)"up on the stage": Note the irony write large: It's from "up on the stage" that the pastor said "Don't follow me."  Medium=message; medium contradicts sermon.  To paraphrase the EBay Atheist,  "What in the world is a stage doing in a church?"  (See also Ed Stetzer's "It takes more than a stage to create a community:The Problem with Pastors as Rock Stars").

Blow up church stages; they are oxmoronic and moronic.


2)"Don’t follow me, follow Christ." It's amazing that people think this is in the Bible when Paul said basically the opposite.  (Don't get me started on folks who bet that "God will never give you more than you can handle" is in the Bible, yet the opposite infinitum, ad nauseum):

"Follow me, as I follow Christ" Paul, 1 Cor 11: 1.

Blow up those  "Don't follow me, I follow Christ" bumper stickers.

Create and sell a new bumper sticker that says,"Follow me because I follow Christ"...and give Brian Dodd all your profits . See Dodd's remarks on this in his important works "The Problem of Paul,"   "Empowered Church Leadership" (click here to read the relevant section)and  his dissertation, "Paul's Paradigmatic 'I': Personal Example as Literary Strategy"

 Paul admitted he was a "normal neurotic"  (Dodd, Problem p. 153), yet was worth following.

3) "he’s a sinner like the rest of us."  Technically, he IS  like the rest of us...but like the rest of us, he's not a sinner."  I said "the rest of us," not "the best of us."  One does not have to be dead, Catholic, or perfect to be a saint.  According to the Bible, one just has to be a Christian.  Even a sucky one like me counts.    Remember that Paul calls even those bad Christians in 1 and 2 Corinthians what they are: "saints."

Blow up those "Just a sinner" T shirts.  How about "just a saint" ?

You are a saint who sometimes sins, not a sinner who sometimes is a saint.

(I hate to argue with saints who think they are also sinners--like Luther and the Sarcastic Lutheran---but see  "kicking butts, hair in a bun, tattoos" and  "i find i relate more to the sinners than i do to the saints"and "Pope Francis, You Had Me at Hello, and Lost Me at Sinner")


  1. Okay.
    1) Nothing is wrong with a stage if it allows people to see who is speaking. Everything is wrong with it if it is to view a performance.
    2) Better translated: "imitate" me or follow my example. And Paul was no "normal neurotic." Paul was not normal at all.
    3) Prefer sinner saved by grace. Saint, yes, but I hear/read too much "I'm a saint, I don't need to repent anymore," etc. I prefer to be referred to simply as a Christian, not sinner or saint.
    4) Mild concern about the want to blow things up :-)
    2 cents worth.

  2. Clay:
    A friendly response:

    1)I honestly don't think the Nt ever imagined churches with a stage. And there was no one "up front" to watch

    3)except the NT never calls Christians sinners or "sinner saved by grace" Just because of the abuse you mentioned, why should we give up biblical language. "Saint" is used even of terrible Christians in Corinth. We are not sinners, we are biblical language

    4) (:

    1. Dave:
      A friendly reply:

      1) Jesus used hillsides and stood up in boats to be seen by the people. But I believe that you are right about stages; synagogues did not have stages, though the temple had raised areas, I think.

      3) You are a very kind man, a great quality in a pastor.

      4) Still best to avoid blowing things up.

  3. Dave this is a fantastic post that addresses some real ground-floor issues that we are wrestling with as we, the Northpark community move forward with a new congregation. One idea I have been working through is the idea of lo-tech, high touch as the future of church community ... i.e., no stage, no projection screens, no laser lights and a return to communal liturgy and church calendar. However, it will take strong leadership to not only suggest reform but actually enact it. Then there is an immediate tension because leaders are necessary, vital even. But fragile, frail and flawed. Saints, nonetheless.

  4. Clay, I have never blown anything up yet.

    Ryan, that sounds so exciting. Let me know anything i can pray or do.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!