â€œA Corrosive Culture?â€
“A Corrosive Culture?”
by Pastor David
I haven’t sat down to write the epitaph for my gravestone, but one word I would hope to be on it would be “churchman.” Few qualities resonate as deeply with me as those that would mark a man as belonging to the church, of loving her and growing in her and giving his life for her. So any time I read of others prizing the local church I’m immediately drawn and delighted. Carl Trueman is one such modern churchman, and the following article reflects well a passion for the centrality of the local church and a prophetic call to recognize the corrosiveness in some of our American church culture.
...One of the elements which the recent celebrity culture in American conservative evangelicalism has fostered is the unspoken conviction that the primary ministry of a church leader does not take place at local level but at large conferences, through ministries detached from ecclesiastical structures or even on websites. Conferences, specialist organisations and websites have their uses and are extremely helpful in many ways; but they should never be a priority for anyone. They are occasional tonics and supplements, an encouraging boost or a source of alternative opinion; they are not the real thing. One might say that real Christianity takes place at local level, through the ministry of properly constituted churches with biblical oversight and accountability. To give conferences, independent 'ministries' and websites decisive influence on anything theological or ecclesiastical is to hand over that which requires careful and clear biblical accountability to those things which have no clear lines of accountability at all. Eloquence, good writing skills and the ability to market oneself and one's organisation with panache do not amount to what Paul describes as necessary for the preservation of the faith in the Pastoral Letters.
Christian church members who do not spend the vast majority of Sundays each year in the church which is their home congregation are making themselves dangerously unaccountable to those placed in authority over them and charged with the care of their souls. And the minister who does not spend the vast majority of Sundays preaching for the congregation which has called him does the same, only with even greater culpability. He is, after all, unlikely to be held to account for the souls of the people who heard him at the conference; but he will most certainly be held to account for the souls of those who have called him to the pastorate in their congregation.
As for the free floating Christian leader with his own independent 'ministry:' well, surely the same strictures apply to him as to any other member of the church. Are there not six days of the week when he can do his thing? He ought to be back in his home church most Sundays. And if he is not there, he is scarcely qualified to speak to those who are.
Christians -- all Christians -- need to be rooted in, and serving, local congregations in order to grow under the word. The current culture therefore needs a reality check. The contemporary politics of evangelical influence is not conducive to biblical polity. In fact, it is decidedly corrosive of the same.
"This article originally appeared atwww.reformation21.org, the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, copyright 2013."