What Does Spiritual Church Leadership Look Like?

 

1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

There is evidence that the word translated mammon in the New Testament was the name of a pagan god and means much more than just “money.” In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible he wrote:

The word “mammon” is a Syriac word, and signifies money, wealth, riches, substance, and everything that comes under the name of worldly goods.

In Wikipedia under the word Mammon we read:

The spelling μαμμωνᾷ refers to “a Syrian deity, god of riches; Hence riches, wealth”

Susanne Schuberth had a great observation of how mammon works in her comment on her latest blog.

“As soon as [church] tradition comes in and money is needed for the building, [also] money for those clerical ‘workers’ who believe they need to be paid (as ‘god’ speaks and acts through them), then the Holy Spirit withdraws. Thus [due to His absence] God makes room for other spirits to take over.” (1)

Jesus saw the seductive power of this mammon spirit warning:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt 6:24, KJ2000)

Adam Clarke wrote about this verse in his commentary saying,

Our blessed Lord shows here the utter impossibility of loving the world and loving God at the same time; or, in other words, that a man of the world cannot be a truly religious character.  He who gives his heart to the world robs God of it, and, in snatching at the shadow of earthly good, loses substantial and eternal blessedness.  How dangerous is it to set our hearts upon riches, seeing it is so easy to make them our God!

Ever since “church growth” became the new focus, the god of Mammon has always trumped the Holy Spirit in today’s worldly churches.

There was no such thing as a “church building” for the followers of Christ to meet in for the first 290 years of Church history (The pagan Emperor Constantine took control of the church in about 311 AD and changed it into worldly organization. He made Christianity the official bureau of religion in the Roman Empire and appointed his own bishops over it). The early saints knew that the true temple of God was not made of bricks and mortar or wood, but rather it was one made from living stones.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22, ESV2011)

Those who trusted in Christ alone met in homes or underground because of persecution so the only “offerings” that were taken up were for the poor and needy among them. There were no “paid Christians,” and no salaried professionals, either. The apostle Paul made that the norm in his teachings.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:17-20, ESV2011)

Jesus was so taken by the need for money to support “His ministry” that He put a known thief in charge of the communal purse. When money was demanded of them to pay the temple tax, He sent Peter to catch a fish with which God miraculously provided a coin in its mouth!

According to Paul, we are NOT to keep our eyes on those who do not follow his example, supporting himself by manual labor. But what we have today are churches with people who can’t wait to get a position on the paid staff. THAT is their only example of what “church leadership” does. How sick! Paul calls the paid professional Christians, “enemies of the cross” whose minds are set on earthly things, and not on their citizenship in heaven.

And again he wrote:

 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2Thess 3:6-12, ESV2011- emphasis added)

To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; (1Cor 4:11-12, ESV2011- emphasis added)

The early church leadership suffered much. Church leadership was not a “profession” that worldly men sought after as it is today. They often went without, laboring with their own hands as they provided for themselves, and they did not mooch off other believers. Paul not only supported himself, as an example to all, but he often supported others who were in need among them (see Acts 20:34-35). He had no lust for the things of this world! “The ministry” in churches today is a paid profession just like any other worldly profession. You get a college degree, apply for work in a corporation and settle in, looking for ways to climb higher in the organization (or build up your own organization) as you keep the wheels of the machine turning and the money coming in. If you rise high enough, you get paid vacations, medical benefits, a company car, a corporate jet and even a good retirement.

We have friends who attended one of the local mega-churches here in town while they were barely making it on his wages and she is medically disabled and can’t work. She got very sick for a few weeks and nobody from that church called, came to visit or even cared, even though she was the chairman of a church “ministry.” The final straw for them as members of that church was a collection the officials took up so the pastor could have a bigger and better boat than the expensive one he already had (one that our friends could never dream of owning). They have not attended a church since. A sad thing these days is how many people there are outside the church because they rightfully have observed, “All those people want is your money!”

It is very obvious here in America, at least (and everywhere in the world that the American gospel has been preached), that the example of church leadership is not a heavenly one, but very worldly. The churches here are operated like any other corporation with salaries, perks and bonuses for building ever bigger church buildings and a larger human mechanized force with bigger programs to go with it. It seems that for the most part Paul’s warning to the elders of the Ephesian church has gone unheeded.

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31, ESV2011)

Paul shed tears over what he saw coming on the church, men speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves. Whatever happened to men and women, who led by a godly example with the Spirit of Christ, and were driven by a passion to make disciples connected to Him instead of to themselves?

Father, please break through the fog over Christian minds and give them the mind of Christ in all things. Amen.

(1) https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/seventeen-point-checklist-for-unknown-groups/#comment-19119

 

40 comments on “What Does Spiritual Church Leadership Look Like?

  1. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    Wew I know some church people who would scoff at this article but I agree with what your saying—To put it into similarity lets see it from Christs perspective—-When Christ was on earth in His flesh people did not understand Him in His fulfillment of the Hebrew writtings but when He was killed,raised up,ascended,and enthroned He then poured out His Spirit Being into us to teach us the reality of the story—-You have spoken reality—-To hell with Constantine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Ken, the Truth of Christ and the Father’s kingdom will prevail no matter who tries to hijack it for their own gain. “Let God be true and let all men be liars.” Remember Jesus’ words,

      “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:43-45, KJ2000)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Patricia W. Orr (Pat) says:

    Thank you for the article, “What Does Spiritual Church Leadership look Like?” Since Jesus said that He would build His church ( sorry, I am not recalling the chapter and verse), I believe that spiritual church leadership should look like Him. I pray that the Father will reveal how Jesus will look in church leadership in this present age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      I guess it depends on what you mean by “church leadership.” As it is today, I am not so sure. But we know this, Pat…
      “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

      It all hinges on receiving HIS spiritual sight in the place of the way carnal man sees things.

      Thanks for your comment.
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you very much for the link to my comment, Michael. 🙂

    Great blog post with an important message to be heeded today, more than ever! ⭐

    Money makes this world go ’round
    But Mammon brings His Spirit down 😦

    Disciples are no man-made stuff
    Christ’s Spirit leads, that is enough!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. dimple says:

    Having been among those who were paid to do “church” work (cleaning the building), I can testify to the truth of what you have written. I asked God for that job, and he granted my request. Then he used it as a learning experience. I was a slow learner…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Judi says:

    As I read through this post and the several comments I could not help but think of the situation at Ephesus:

    see Acts 19:14-20 (KJV)
    vs 18-20:
    “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
    Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
    So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

    Many, if not all the city, were in the cult of Diana and how many more cults, I would suppose, would be as many as their gods since all of Asia is mentioned. In this chapter, Ephesus was one place that Mammon was also surely worshiped.
    The persecution Paul experienced there, besides from the Jews, was from the silversmiths that made their very lucrative living, making and selling statues of the goddess Diana.
    The situations found in this chapter show a mighty stronghold of Mammon was defeated as the Lord moved onto the scene by His Spirit. Also clearly shows that many were demon-possessed and in need of deliverance and healing..

    So like Susanne said in her comment from her post regarding the worldly church (excerpt):
    “…the Holy Spirit withdraws. Thus [due to His absence] God makes room for other spirits to take over.”

    So clear! – even as we know God sent a spirit to be a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s false prophets! with godly Jehoshophat in the room – could that not be happening still – in today’s worldly churches?

    1 Kings 22:19-23
    And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
    And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
    And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.
    And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
    Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.”

    Through these passages the word “prevail or prevailed” stood out to me – Both in reference to evil against or blessing toward.
    “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:20)
    And he (my note:the Lord) said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.” (1 Kings 22″22b)

    Wonderful post Michael! Has stirred me – as is evident 🙂
    Thanking God for you and all His Own, Judi

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Judi, for your very thoughtful comment. It stirred me up by His Spirit as well! It seems that God did many wonderful and miraculous things in those first few years to make sure the Ekklesia of Christ got a good foothold before Satan could mess it up. There were those two outpourings of the Spirit in Jerusalem in the first week or so at which men from all over that part of the known world were touched by faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Then the stoning of Stephan where his face shown like that of an angel that raised up a persecution that sent these early believers with the gospel out into many nations (you know that Paul was there and that Stephens face had to haunt him). Then there was the appearing of Jesus to Paul, the worst persecutor of the early church, that changed him into the greatest evangelist and teacher that church has ever known. This event in Ephesus you spoke of was one of many mighty things that God did through Paul and the church grew as a result along with great persecution upon those who spread the gospel and all who believed.

      Satan finally figured out that persecution only made the church grow and multiply. So he switched tactics and with the help of Emperor Constantine he made the church the accepted faith of the Roman Empire and made it illegal to persecute it. What some Christian scholars count as a wonderful thing, now made it easy and safe to be a Christian and it even became profitable. Constantine made the office of bishop tax exempt and the rich Romans under a heavy tax burden paid much to get that position. Former pagan priests fell out of favor in that new system so they became Christian priests. Instead of icons of Diana being sold and temples to her being built, now the icons would be made and sold of Christ and the saints with temples erected to them.

      The perversion of the church, that well meaning but ignorant Constantine started, has continued on down through the ages until this very day and Christians for the most part are totally blind to see it. The worst thing of all that blinds us is called TRADITION. It took me years as both a Catholic and in different Protestant religions to finally see that Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, is what we are being warned of to “come out of her my people and partake not of her sins…” (Read all of Revelation ch. 17 &18). It has gone full circle back to chapters 19 and 20 of Acts! What we have today with all its institutions of higher learning, its system of mercantilism selling Bibles, books, statues, gold and silver jewelry and all manner of merchandise (not to mention the merchandising that goes on during the “Christian” holidays of Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween (the eve of All Saints Day) and Thanksgiving) and all the billions of dollars coerced out of these believers to build and finance what is now called “the Church.” Yes, the silversmiths of Ephesus were just a dress rehearsal for this perversion we see today and Paul wept for three years when he saw it coming while he was still IN EPHESUS (see Ephesians 20:29-31).

      As it was with the Jews who received the oracles of God in the wilderness and settled in Israel only to pervert that faith with idolatry and evil kings, the same has happened with the church down through the ages. It is the second law of thermodynamics in action, but on a spiritual level. So, as you pointed out, God’s will will not be thwarted. He starts over once again with something fresh and new (though it is the culmination of all that has gone on before), not a church system, but rather the Bride of Christ that no longer focuses on and worships the things of this world and its worldly institutions, but whose whole heart is given over to her Husband, Jesus Christ, and God’s heavenly kingdom. This will be the greatest miracle of all!

      “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3, ESV2011)

      Liked by 3 people

      • Judi says:

        * Like
        I can only say that your reply was nothing short of symphonic! Reading it was like I was hearing what Elijah heard when the Lord passed by – ending with His still small voice.
        I hope that does not sound too strange 🙂 Admitedly, I was blown away…
        So beautiful were those final verses from John 14 and so comforting 🙂 Thank you, Michael, for such a sense of the passion and heart of our Lord.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Ps 100:3, ESV2011)

        As we yield to his touch, we become His handy-work, living letters to be read by all.

        “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1John 3:2-3, ESV2011)

        All those years of dying in the wilderness and agonizing in church pews are finally starting to bear fruit. 🙂
        Thank you so much for your encouragement and sharing your portion with us, Judi. ⭐

        Liked by 2 people

      • Holy Moly!! Indeed, Michael, Judi is right!! What an awesome spiritual elaboration you shared here in your comment! ⭐ Am speechless!!!
        Almost… 😉

        Dear Judi, it has been a great pleasure to have you on our blogs!!! ⭐ How wonderful it is to share revelations in the same Spirit with one another!!! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Oh, Susanne, God uses you so often in my walk with Jesus! His mutual inspiration through our spirits makes us grow in Him as joined members of His body. Yes, it is good to have Him speaking through Judi this way as well. 🙂❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Michael. 🙂 And amen to your thoughts on spiritual growth in Him, too.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Anna. If it is not the power of the Spirit working through me, I want nothing to do with it.
      “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Judi says:

        Wow, Michael – that verse from Zechariah 4:6 was also in my heart but not added to my last comment – for the flow coming through is so powerfully of the Holy Spirit – a torrent of Life pouring forth – all speaking of His abundant love, mercy and grace to us all…
        2 Corinthians 4:1-14 King James Version (KJV)
        “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
        But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
        But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.
        In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
        For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
        For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
        But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
        We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
        Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
        Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
        For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
         So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
        We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
         Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Gracias Michael por este artículo. Cuando salí del sistema me di cuenta que solo querían mi dinero y que yo solo era un número más en la estadística de sus miembros. Solo les interesa la palabra “pacto” y esa palabra tiene que ver con dinero. En estos días en la mayoría de iglesias están recogiendo “las primicias” y la gente ciega corre a llevarles su salario. Es tan lamentable y abominable. La Iglesia del Señor la convirtieron en un negocio y en cueva de ladrones. Si alguien está pasando por una necesidad, lo acusan de estar en maldición por no llevar el diezmo a sus arcas.

    El ser pastor se convirtió en una profesión pagada y solo se necesita cursar el instituto bíblico, no importa si la gente no tiene la vida de Dios, lo importante es que apruebe el curso y sea muy carismático para atraer gente.

    Que el Señor abra los ojos de todas estas personas y obedezcan la voz del Señor y salgan fuera de ese sistema corrupto.

    Un abrazo mi hermano.
    —————————-
    Patricia wrote:

    Thanks Michael for this article. When I left the system I realized that they only wanted my money and that I was just another number in the statistics of its members. They are only interested in the word “pact” and that word has to do with money. These days most churches are picking up “the firstfruits” and blind people run to get their salary. It is so pitiful and abominable. The Church of the Lord turned it into a business and into a den of thieves. If someone is going through a need, they accuse him of being in a curse for not taking the tithe into his coffers.

    Being a pastor became a paid profession and you only need to attend the Bible Institute, it does not matter if people do not have the life of God, the important thing is that they approve the course and be very charismatic to attract people.

    May the Lord open the eyes of all these people and obey the voice of the Lord and come out of that corrupt system.

    A hug my brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. dimple says:

    In reading this conversation and thinking about wealth, I was shown that wealth includes numbers in the pews…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dimple says:

    And now I want to edit that, because I got the Italics wrong. I wanted just the word “bodies” to be italicized…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      I agree on both point, Louise. Weather they use people to keep the machine going by mandatory giving, selling them merchandise; tapes CDs, you name it, or use them as human grist in their mills, it’s the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. dimple says:

    Yes, I figured that out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Patricia wrote this in response to me telling her that I was out on a local lake ice fishing today.

    Wow, que buena esa actividad Michael, pescar, nunca lo he hecho, pero debe tener su encanto. Yo lo único que “pesco” son resfriados por el clima frío de mi ciudad jajajajaja. Un abrazo.
    ——
    Wow, what a good activity, fishing is, Michael. I’ve never done it, but it must have its charm. I the only thing that “pesco” are colds by the cold climate of my city hahaha. A hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Patricia, I like to get alone out in God’s creation as often as I can. One thing about ice fishing is there are no water skiers rocking my boat and not very many people like to brave the cold. The fishing might be slow, but it is peaceful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adriana Patricia says:

        Pues en un mundo tan ruidoso como este, estar pescando debe ser algo maravilloso. Un abrazo fraternal mi hermano.

        Patricia wrote:
        Well, in a world as noisy as this, to be fishing must be something wonderful. A brotherly hug my brother.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        I am grateful to the Lord that I can be in His creation with only a 20 minute drive from our home. And we live in a fairly quiet neighborhood in a smaller city as well. I don’t do well in large cities. There are too many satanic influences pressing in all around in them. I understand why Jesus would often have to withdraw away from the crowds in a remote place to get some quality time with His Father.
        Hugs to you as well, Patricia.

        Like

  11. Dan says:

    Good point / insight about “Constantine”.
    —-
    What is going on now is not something new..
    – Greed and power issues.
    It goes back to “time of Constantine”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      For sure, Dan, Constantinianism was where the groundwork was laid for the apostate church and many of its traditions which go right against the teaching of Christ. This article in Wikipedia is very revealing:

      Constantinianism refers to those policies said to be enacted, encouraged, or personally favored by Constantine the Great, a 4th-century Roman Emperor. In particular, it may refer to any of the following:

      Constantine’s patronage of Christianity.
      The practice of state control of or influence over the Church, sometimes called Erastianism.
      The notion that Roman Emperors have authority over the Church, sometimes called Caesaropapism.
      Identification of the Church with the Roman Empire[1]
      The Church’s willingness to use the state’s coercive power structures to assist in the Church’s mission[2]
      A tendency to exuberance due of the subsequent rise of Christianity, sometimes called Christian triumphalism.
      The notion that Constantine received his mandate from God, as in the Divine Right of Kings.
      The practice of Religious tolerance as mandated in the Edict of Milan.
      The doctrines of the Council of Nicea, which Constantine organized and promoted.
      The corruption of Christian doctrine that is alleged to have taken place during or because of the reign of Constantine, sometimes called the Great Apostasy or more particularly the Constantinian shift.
      Certain Roman Catholic criticisms of Separation of Church and State found, for instance, in the Syllabus of Errors.
      Certain Protestant doctrines such as Reconstructionism and Dominionism.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantinianism

      Like

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