Quotes from Leroy Garrett on "the pastor system"

Leroy Garrett has a few pages in his book, A Lover's Quarrel, dedicated to the topic we have been discussing. As you possibly observed in my interview with him, he can pack a lot in few words. Here are some of the quotes followed by my thoughts. I don't mean any of my thoughts to be harsh. They are written in a calm state of mind.

"My objection to the minister system was related to the larger issue of the proper function of the body of Christ. Drawing upon Ephesians 4:1-16, I pointed out that God has set the church in order 'for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.' And that this is realized when 'the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.'"

What is the goal of the church for the members within it? Is it to build them up in individual spirituality, entertain them, and keep them satisfied? Or is it to build them up as part of a church, give them opportunities to use their gifts, and teach them that it isn't about their happiness but about following God no matter what? I would choose the latter. I think most churches would too. However, I think our culture has a tendency to push us towards doing the former.

"Based on this apostolic mandate, I saw the ministry of the church in terms of what I called 'body life,' where every member shares in building up the church, each according to his ability. When a professional is imported - brought in from outside the body - to do what the members themselves are to do, it is a harmful departure from the Biblical order."

One of the major drawbacks I see in using the "pastor system" is that we have designated roles that only the paid pastor can do. For instance, the only individuals that preach are, except for on rare occassions, the paid pastor(s). We ignore that it is the leadership's job to develop people's gifts and place them in ministries that match their gifting because they are ministries we have earmarked for the paid staff. We seem to have two categories of ministries in churches: Those ministries that are of a more important nature and handled by paid staff and those ministries that anyone can do because paid staff really doesn't want to waste their time on them. I challenge the paid staff out there to start handing over ministries. Create new ones that reach out to the community to occupy your time, then hand them over and start again. Train your church to function alongside you or, even, without you. Train the lay people of your church to be ministers. Train them to preach, do funerals, call on the dying, etc. Train them to be fully equipped ministers of the gospel if they have the calling.

It's is great to be the one in power, the CEO of the Kingdom of God, but I don't think that is anyone's calling. We are called to be servants, and that isn't just a trick to get more people to follow us. It is a calling into actual servanthood.

We need to stop the trend of sending people away to Bible colleges if they have the call to be a pastor unless that is their specific calling. This is commonplace because of the misconstrued belief that if you're called to be a pastor, then you need to be a full-time paid one. Where do we get this? The individual might be called to be a pastor while being an employee somewhere in the world. In many cases that would be more effective. They might be called to be a lay pastor right where they already are. In our current system that is not a valid option. Why?

I think we have enough churches in many regions of our nation. For instance, Antwerp is a town of 1,200. We have a Baptist, Church of Christ, Nazarene, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, and a Presbyterian church. There are also churches located in the country between our town and other towns. We really don't need another church. We need the churches we already have to be healthy. I think when we start expecting the members of our churches to take up the leadership in the church and lead, we will see the churches reach healthiness and see communities across America turn to the Lord. I mean lead not in the sense that it is done in most churches today. Most churches have a board of some sort that approve the vision that the paid pastor lays out in front of them. It needs to be different than that. The board needs to lead by coming up with the vision. They aren't just props to submit to and give more authority to the paid pastor.

I believe God is on the cusp on doing great things with all of us if we would just follow his leading and not force him to lead in a way that we expect him to.

Back to Leroy Garrett:

"One cartoon (of many that he published in his journal Bible Talk) illustrated how much of the church's money goes to the minister and edifices, and how little to missions and benevolence."

There are many benefits of the mutual ministry model. One is financial. I do think we need to be extremely careful and not make the benefits the reason for doing mutual ministry. We do it because we need to be faithful in training up disciples. It is great that we will have more money to love people in our church, outside our church in our communities, and around the world. That is just one of the many benefits that happen when a church is focused not on any structures we have created but upon the mission of being the Kingdom of God.

Quotes that :Leroy Garrett used from others.

Alexander Campbell - "To employ men to preach the gospel to a Christian congregation is a satire upon that congregation that employs them."

Wow. He's saying that a congregation really isn't a congregation if they employ people from outside to minister to them. If they aren't at the point of being able to do it themselves, then they aren't really a congregation. They're just a sadly humorous shell that acts like a congregation. That's some pretty bold words, Alexander. You shouldn't be saying stuff like that.

Guy N. Woods - "The elders are the pastors of the flock, and not the evangelist; and it is their duty to care for it and tend it. Evangelists are to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the lost, and preach the gospel in regions where it is not known."

The things that we currently expect pastors to do can be taken care of by the flock he currently ministers to. I'm not proposing that every paid pastor lose their job. I'm proposing that they spearhead the charge into winning the world to the Lord outside of the church. Let those within the church head up the internal ministries. Let the paid pastor, or local missionary, head up the external ministries.

That's all for today. I would love to hear some comments from people who disagree. A bunch of new people have visited in the last few days. Statracker tells me stuff like that. So please share if you feel so led. I would love to have some questions to answer about what is perceived to be problems with mutual ministry. You could email me your comments and I would keep your name anonymous if you so wished. However, you all retain the right to come to the blog in anonymity and just read my ravings like you would stare at a car wreck at the side of the road caused by the gigantic pothole you're about ready to run into.

Watch out for the potholes.