Is the Church Killing the Church?… Thursdays Are For Thinking Out Loud

Abandoned church in the desert, with stormy skies. Monotone image, with added grain.

From my perspective, some Thursdays are for thinking out loud. If you read this blog often you realize that I sometimes, on Thursdays, unearth the perhaps absurd thoughts that run through my head, things about… church. Why do I find myself pondering these things intently? I can’t help it (most days I wish I could). The Holy Spirit given gift of apostleship… That is, a passion for and a responsibility to the care of and growth of the church universal, many churches, not just one church, forces some of us to muse daily on what is strengthening the body of Christ and what might be weakening her. While I’m no apostle Paul, I do sometimes feel the overwhelming feelings, at a much lesser level I’m sure, that he described when he stated, “there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28)

This concern forces my heart to places of contemplation. The outcomes of these meditations may or may not be right assumptions, only ponderings. But, I like to share these thoughts and get your input.

So… Today… “Is the church killing the church?,” or maybe a better way to ask the question is, “Did the church put a system in place that has evolved over time that has begun to affect the church so deeply that we’re missing the mark and it’s killing us?”

The thought that’s running through my head today… Seminaries educate pastors but mature disciples should lead the church. In many instances, educated people who are not spiritually mature are leading the church. Here’s the deal…

A mature disciple is made when someone is discipled by someone else and/or through a community of believers. The disciple maker/makers is holding the person being discipled accountable to be engaged in spiritual disciplines daily, engaging unbelievers in spiritual conversations with the goal of their becoming Christ followers, faith driven prayer, pursuing holiness, etc… Mature disciples of Jesus Christ…

  1. Have experienced heart change, not just learned to carry out the responsibilities of the clergy.
  2. Exhibit high levels of humility and only in moments of weakness, and very seldom, lash out angrily at others.
  3. Are willing to give up all for the cause of Christ including monetary gain.
  4. Have an inner urge to do more than just preach and teach but find it almost unbearable to not be discipling someone else or some others.
  5. Views everyone in the church as an equal with differing spiritual gifts rather than viewing the clergy as above all the rest.
  6. Perceives the primary role of an elder is to shepherd the people, not to run an efficient organization.

Those we hire to lead the church, in many instances, are not spiritually mature believers, they’re well intentioned seminary graduates. The only things they may have been held accountable to do is prepare for the pop quiz, write an impressive paper, learn Greek and Hebrew, and finish four years of theological study with a 3.0 grade point average. They’re educated but may not be, and sometimes aren’t, spiritually mature. They have degrees but, if the truth were known, don’t meet the standards Scripture demands of an elder/pastor.

What happened? Over time we put a system in place, seminary training, that educates but doesn’t disciple church leaders. The most important step in the process of becoming a pastor is by-passed.

KNOW THIS!!! I am not judging seminaries, seminary professors, or the work of any seminary! They’re doing precisely what they should do, educating pastors in doctrine, preaching, education ministry, worship ministry, etc… It’s not their job to “disciple” their students.

I’m simply pointing out that, whereas the early church made disciples who became church leaders, we may have over time, created a system through which people are given an education then made church leaders… and it may be killing us.



  1. HERETICAL! … but very true.
    The early church pattern was so simple, so pure, so easy to replicate; How did we get so far off track that our primary focus is to assemble people for meetings where one person speaks and the rest do not participate. What would happen if churches eliminated the Sunday sermon for a period of time? What would we actually have left? What might we discover?

  2. I agree with your overall general view of this. I have seen (and probably been the person in a few instances) who was hired/called mainly based on skill set and personality and not necessarily on anything more spiritual than whether you had a seminary degree or not. However, I do think that seminaries have an obligation to at least inform their students of discipleship methodologies that are viable in the local church setting. When I was in seminary, we were taught “programming” not processes or methods. This just leads to more of the same outcomes with which we are presently frustrated – because we are not seeing the mind/heart/actions transformation that we know will result in maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. I am having to re-tool both my thinking and processes for discipleship in the local church context.

  3. I love this! It’s great. With your permission I’d like to reblog this in about a month. I’m currently in a christmas series, that this wouldn’t fit with, but I’m thinking of a few blogs about church in the new year.

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