Nurturing Dependence or Spiritual Empowerment

Nurturing Dependence or Spiritual Empowerment

This post is a reply to an inquiry from a reader.

Hedging your Flock

IFB pastors assure us that other churches don’t ‘preach it’ as they do. How they know that isn’t 100 % clear since they’re in their own pulpit Sunday mornings. But most fundies aren’t that deep. And why would IBF pastors want it otherwise?

Openly defaming other pastors and churches, reminding us that many other preachers get this wrong, telling us how tricky this passage is, or warning of the importance to be under faithful preaching, IFB pastors have many means to teach hearers to distrust their spiritual and biblical instincts. There are stories of shipwrecked faith and spiritual seduction.

The picture of a dark, scary world freshly impressed on their minds, IFB congregations are now thoroughly prepped to lean heavily on the superior wisdom of the IFB pastor. Ignore the other voices and perspectives. They are the winds and waves Peter ought to have ignored outside the boat.

Things to Note

There is some truth in this. Not all preaching is equal [and some IFB preaching is very unequal]. Christians are well advised to hear better preaching than not. Spiritual dangers do exist [including IFB sects].

If no real, spiritual dangers existed, no credible case could be made for hedging the flock. So how does one distinguish IFB pastoral efforts at manipulation from the call to grow into genuine maturity where our spiritual instincts develop as God would have them?

Nurturing Dependence

Answering this question begins with understanding why IFB pastors do what IFB pastors do.

IFB pastors may speak of ‘guarding the flock of God,’ or of their charge to ‘protect’ sheep entrusted them. And those tasks are mandated. But often, their concern is not to ‘guard’ or ‘protect’ sheep, but to guard and protect their standing in the flock that pays the pastor’s salary. Controlling and insecure pastors isolate and insulate followers from other believers as a means of job security. And the easiest way to do it is to invalidate the faith commitments of other pastors, churches and faith traditions.

Fear is extremely debilitating for believers. But that weakened condition is very empowering for IFB pastors. Why would they want it otherwise?

Nurturing Empowerment

There is a another way to approach this question, and it is this: healthy churches/pastors/faith_traditions develop parishioners’ spiritual and biblical instincts. Instead of keeping members pastor-dependent, every effort is made to liberate and empower the laity for ministry.

When believers want to develop their spiritual instincts, leaders in healthy churches do not tremble. They rejoice. This is not a thing to be avoided. Church leaders delight to assist them in this development.

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “Nurturing Dependence or Spiritual Empowerment”

  1. This post really captures one of the major problems with my former church and former pastor. He used to quote that verse from Jeremiah all the time about the human heart being “deceitful and desperately wicked” and then follow it up with the statement “so don’t follow your heart — follow Scripture.”

    What he really meant, although I am sure he would never admit it, was “don’t follow the Holy Spirit or your God-given conscience, follow whatever I tell you, and I’ll back it up with a few Bible verses taken out of context, and because I am such a good orator, I’ll make it sound really biblical.”

    Someone who is a good orator and can quote a lot of Scripture can make just about anything sound “biblical,” but if their conclusions don’t line up with the character of Jesus, he or she is a false teacher.

    1. Dear WorkinMama:

      This is exactly why I want to do a brief word study and use Phil 2 as an application. IFBdom is a scourge upon God’s church, and only as its prisoners gain some adeptness with Scripture will they rise up and oblige their pastors to change, on pain of ejecting them from the church, or else leaving themselves for greener, more Biblical pastures.

      It’s hard to experience Christian growth or faith maturity in the environment you described.


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