If you have never heard Voddie Baucham preach, you are missing out on one of the truly great experiences of the 21st century. If you have heard him preach, but you have never heard his message, Closing the Generation Gap, then you have some work to do. Preaching in 2006 before a large group of Southern Baptists pastors and their ministry associates, Baucham delivered a timely, engaging message on why Christianity in America is dying, and what we as Christians can do about it.
It is a message that still needs to be heard.
[audio:Closing the Generation Gap.mp3]
Click on the play button above to listen to the message, or right-click here and choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” to download the mp3. (Note: I have contacted Mr. Baucham and have been granted permission to distribute this message.)
Over at the GeoffRe(y)port, there is an interesting post on the unintended consequences of professional clergy. As I understand it, the problem is not so much with the elder(s) being supported by the church, as it is with what happens when it becomes accepted that all elders are to be fully supported by the church, and that if you aren’t fully supported, something must be wrong. In the early church, when tithing and giving was at its peak, a pastor being completely supported was the exception rather than the rule. Anyway, go read the article and join the discussion there.
One thing that I’ll add here that didn’t make it into my original comment is that a professional fully supported clergy also results in a situation similar to that of institutional academia, in that you can frequently end up with people who have no experience in the real world. Early church elder’s had to be competent men; they were not fully supported by the church, they had families and therefore were required to have productive incomes and they also had to have time to tend to the church and to study the Word. Today, in certain circles, the ministry can be a lucrative and cushy career path.
I’ve always been skeptical of mega churches. It was built into me growing up: the idea that things get unwieldy when they get too big, that the head can no longer know what the whole body is doing. Without really thinking about it, it became a truistic concept, an unquestioned axiom that flavored a great deal of my thinking.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that there are many “truism’s” that are unscriptural, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, all’s well that ends well, etc… And so I’ve reexamined a lot of things that I thought I had down pat. But mega churches still bother me. I think it’s verses like Hebrews 13:17
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
The word used for account there is logos. It suggests that the question posed will be, something like, “Tell me, how did the church come to be in this state. Give me an account for the state of this man’s soul.” Not the pastor will be held accountable for the faults of the people, but he will be asked what he did to prevent them and then to deal with them when they occurred. With that sort of responsibility, I guess I don’t see how someone can give an account for the souls of 1000+ people. So, I’m asking it as a question. What do you think about mega-churches? What do you think about the responsibilities of an elder? Am I putting too much responsibility there?