Re: New Frontiers International
Date: June 07, 2010 12:06PM
I've been in ministry leadership for twenty years. I grew up under a dominating, authoritarian pastor of a father in a life structure and through a set of circumstances that would baffle the ordinary church member and make tens of millions of dollars in profit from a book or movie deal. What I endured under my father's deceitful twenty-five years of ministry as a Southern Baptist pastor was horrific for me personally as a kid, as well as for my wife and four children. I completely and entire understand the inner workings of this type of leadership model, and I want no part of it whatsoever.
But here are two responses for you to consider, as well as Mike.
One: the answer to bad leadership is not no leadership. The Bible does teach that when Christ ascended He gave gifts to the church and they are gifted men and women who lead the church through the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, pastoring, and teaching. The Bible also teaches that these leaders are given for the equipping of the body and to mature the saints. These leaders are to be obeyed and submitted to because they give an account to God of the sheep they lead. And if all this occurred in a perfect world, then we'd have perfect leaders and perfect sheep. And then we wouldn't need leaders, since the point of Jesus giving them in the first place was to mature us. There's no mention that they are perfect or sinless. They too are sheep and shepherd at the same time and therefore should be led by other leaders. Being a church leader in no way puts you at the top of some unreachable pinnacle where there's zero accountability. That's why the NT is replete with the necessity of a team of men, or a plurality of elders. That's because they are fallen too. But just because they are fallen too doesn't mean they can't lead. And just because so many leaders get it wrong, doesn't mean we don't need leadership any longer. I don't necessarily get that this is what you're saying. But what you said does seem to imply that as a trajectory.
Two: The reason my dad and I have an awesome relationship today is because of one factor..and it's the factor that gets left out so often in situations like this...and its the factor that Satan hopes more than anything else will be left unnoticed and unimplemented. It's grace. Plain and simple. And it's demonstrated in forgiving and forbearing, just like Paul described in Ephesians 4:1-3 as well as in 4:29-32. Forbear with one another in gentleness and humility of heart. And forgive one another any sins that are committed against one another. This makes the Christian life all about grace. And the fact that God worked that in my heart toward my father despite the horrific things he'd done to me shows me that the gospel is true. Period.
That's what I and the rest of the body here at Church in the Boro have witnessed and tasted first hand in this conflict. They've tasted and seen that the Lord is good in the grace He gives to us, and then commands us to give to others. The answer to bad leadership is grace-filled, gospel-driven leadership. The answer to bad leadership is not distrust, but forgiveness. The answer to bad leadership is not to decry them as heretics or question their salvation, but to oppose then gently, as Paul teaches in 2 Timothy 2:24-25, in hopes that they might be released from the captivity of the enemy. How we treat bad leaders displays what we believe about the gospel. And sadly the fault is as much on those who withhold the gospel from bad leaders, as it is on the part of narcissistic leaders who love power and control. The gospel can change that. It has changed that in me, transforming me from what my dad passed on to me, to someone who loves grace more than anything else in the world.
This is what I've tasted firsthand in New Frontiers.
In closing, let me also pass along another eye-opening and oft-neglected truth, and that's this. New Frontiers is no more a collective hive of automaton apostles than any other organization or denomination. I grew up Southern Baptists and it would be impossible for you to complete any degree of research regarding the sheer numbers whose faith has been destroyed due to pride, rebellion, lust, envy, greed, covetousness, and adultery...not to mention church fights and church splits. We can't anymore cast a suspicious eye on New Frontiers for a handful or two of bad experiences anymore than we can on the Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, or Assemblies of God because of a handful or two of bad experiences there.
I don't relate to New Frontiers. I relate to a dear brother who is part of an apostolic delegate devoted and dedicated to helping churches build strong biblical foundations in order to expand the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ. That dear brother relates to another apostolic man whose gifting over the last several decades happens to be in church planting and oversight. That dear brother relates to another man whose gifting is the same, along with others whose giftings are in the prophetic, evangelism, pastoring, teaching, etc.
The point is that New Frontiers is a group of apostolically gifted men, whose passion is church planting, all relating to each other in prayer and support in a common purpose: the expansion of the kingdom of God through making disciples and church planting. The churches they plant, build, lead, and hand over to elders all relate to each other as a family of churches, each of which is autonomous in making its own decisions, since this is clearly a biblical model.
New Frontiers is NOT a cult of brain-washed leaders and churches who operate in some kind of borg collective to control peoples' lives. Remember, I grew up under that and know exactly what it looks like, how it operates, what politics it plays, what it tastes like, feels like, and how it works. Rather, it's a group of fallen men with intentions much like yours and mine...intentions pointed toward making disciples. So surely an entire organization can't be blamed and miscategorized because of the mistakes of a handful or two of leaders.
Our situation here turned out graciously. The young man Mike spoke of is completely and entirely reconciled with me. Do you want to know why? Because I saw my heavy-handedness in dealing with him, much like I feel toward my own children from time to time when I see them about to make a decision that will bring them some hurt and pain. I have a hard time letting go, like many parents. This young man was more close to me than the ordinary church member, seeing as how he helped plant the church. Our conversation two days ago was testimony of what I'm talking about. I clearly acknowledged and confessed dealing with him that did not turn out to be a gracious as I originally and passionately desired. He forgave me. He's in the city where he wanted to go now. And we're still talking, Facebooking, emailing, and I'm mailing something back to him that he forgot here in town...per his personal request to me...on the mobile phone...which he still calls...because he loves me and I love him...because he forgives me and I forgive him...because God's grace is greater than our sin.
Grace should be the trajectory of our desire to help others. And if it's all kept that plain and simple, then the gospel can do its best work of truly saving sinners and discipling saints.