25 May 2012

Do Not Oppose the Vision

Yesterday at The Resurgence (one of the many ministries associated with the Acts 29 Network), Kevin Larson, Lead Pastor of Karis Community Church in Columbia, Missouri, posted an article entitled, "Don't Empower People Too Quickly in Your Church."

The article is a bit of advice for church planters, and Larson raises three primary points of concern with "doling out leadership responsibilities to people [you] barely know." The first of the three points is perhaps the most unsettling. Larson writes:
Brothers, your primary co-laborers (and certainly your primary leaders) need to comprehend and be able to articulate and even defend your vision. The worst thing you could do is to empower someone who has competing ideas. Draw a line with an arrow pointing upward on a piece of paper that represents your vision. Then draw another one, that starts at the same point, but veers off at a 45-degree angle to the left. That sort of vision that is out of alignment is easy to spot. However, it’s harder to catch the person who veers off only slightly. Yet, if you project that line’s trajectory, it still ends up in a drastically different, potentially devastating, spot. Knowing if someone’s vision fits with that of your church’s, however, takes time. Do you really want to position someone to pull against the vision God has given you?
The tone of this paragraph comes off a bit controlling, whether or not that was the intent. Of note also is the tendency to refer to the pastor's so-called vision as "your," or his, vision throughout...until the final sentence. Then the true meaning is revealed: this vision allegedly is from God. The implication is that, in some way, shape or form, the pastor has received direct, personal revelation from God. To go against that vision, then, is to go against God Himself. This logical conclusion allows for the strong language that is used throughout the paragraph. After all, if someone would dare question the vision of God, then it would only be natural to deal with them sternly.

The reader best not forget that Larson's words above are directed at pastors, at church planters. Yet the implications in his words do not seem to reflect any of the admonitions to pastors in Scripture. Rather, they bring to mind an entirely different leadership model.
The second pillar of the Nazi state is the Führer, the infallible leader, to whom his followers owe absolute obedience. The Führer principle envisages government of the state by a hierarchy of leaders, each of whom owes unconditional allegiance to his immediate superior and at the same time is the absolute leader in his own particular sphere of jurisdiction. 
(Various Readings on Fascism and National Socialism / Selected by members of the department of philosophy, University of Colorado [Kindle Locations 1347-1349].)
In the pastoral epistles, Paul urged Timothy and Titus to stand firm in the Truth in the face of false teaching. One method Paul used to expose the false teachers was a bit of a compare/contrast. He described the characteristics of the false teachers, then contrasted that with the attributes of a godly leader. With this, the young pastors would know what type of characteristics to look for in appointing fellow men to help lead the church in a godly way. Interestingly, Paul did not say, "Look for men who will defend the vision you think God gave you." How did Paul guide these young men?

Most are familiar with Paul's list of qualifications for elders found in 1 Timothy 4 and Titus 1, but Paul offers further admonitions to Timothy, who himself was a young pastor:
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  
(2 Tim. 1:13–14; 2:1-2)
What are these "sound words"? They are the Scriptures, and the doctrines contained therein. Paul does not advise Timothy to follow after extra-biblical revelation. And what was the "good deposit" that had been entrusted to Timothy? The Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel that is found within the pages of Scripture, not an alleged vision that is only known to God and the pastor. This "good deposit" is the same Gospel that all believers are commissioned to share. So long as the leaders of a church are all in agreement with—and saved by—that Gospel, that "vision," then the "Führer principle" should never be employed.

This seems like an appropriate time to remind the reader to take some time to listen to Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough's recent presentation, "Resistance is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated into the Community." It may shed some light on this discussion.


  1. "Contend earnestly for the vision"...er wait, no, make that the faith.
    Ugh. These guys are so deceived - and, sadly, are deceiving many others.

  2. Sounds like a bunch of Popes to me. Super "apostles" inculcating a bit of brainwashing also. They definitely have a self-inflated opinion of themselves.

    Thank GOD for his word of TRUTH in Colossians chapter 2

    some verses::

    Col 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

    Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

    Col 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

    ->>Col 2:10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.


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