Well, it’s that time. You move to a new town. You go to college. You get married. You leave your last church for whatever reason. And you’re on the hunt again, looking to find a church. Everyone wants to have a church into which they are born, grow up, and die. But most of us will make the painful decision to say “Goodbye” (hopefully in a good way) to our old church and start looking for a new church a few times in our lives. There are lots of factors you need to consider: theology, style of worship, philosophy of ministry, location, etc.. I want to draw attention to one factor that you should pay attention to. Is the leadership humble?
Has the work of the Almighty Son of God, Jesus Christ in denying himself to accomplish our salvation as our substitute and sacrifice on the cross been like chemotherapy to the cancer of pride?
Specifically, are those who are responsible for the teaching of God’s Word humble. Why? Hebrews 13:7 tells us that we should imitate the example of those who teach God’s Word. Paul tells Timothy that by keeping a close watch on himself and his teaching, he will “save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16) He is pretty clear that the teacher must set, “the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (4:12)\
In particular, a pit of errors is avoided by humility. James warns us that those who harbor “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” in their hearts have demonic roots which leads to “disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:14-16). By contrast the “meekness of wisdom” (3:13) will lead to “a harvest of righteousness.” (3:18) For reasons I can’t elaborate on here, I believe that James 3:13-18 is specifically written for leaders. Some might disagree. But I think all can agree, this at least applies to the leaders of an assembly.
If a pastor is proud and arrogant, he will not only see “every vile practice” in his own life, but his church will be filled with it. He can have polished communication, perfect ministry strategy, effective mission, and orthodox theology, but if he is filled with pride and arrogance, his church will be a seedbed of the demonic.
So next time you look for a church, find a church with humble leadership.
Which is why you should consider looking for a small church. Not that there aren’t big churches with godly leadership. There are. I know some. There are also tons of small churches with proud pastors. I know some (I often am one!). But the problem is this: if you can’t get close enough to the pastor to see that, you will never know if they are humble or arrogant.
The simple reality is that in big churches, you just can’t get close enough to look at the teaching pastor’s life to discern how humble they are. By the time you find out, it is probably going to be too late. As I see it, this is an existential crisis for large churches. The burgeoning of large churches with arrogant pastors has led to the retarded growth of many Christians and a serious de-christianization of too many cities. The rocketing growth of large churches often leads to the hollowing out of other, smaller churches around. When they implode, those people often don’t go back to church. For the life of me, I don’t know how large churches try to solve that problem. I’ve never been a megachurch pastor, and with posts like this, there are relatively few chances I will ever be one.
But I do know this: in my small church, my people can see all my mistakes, all my errors, all my faults, all my excesses, all my fears, all my irritations. They can see my pride, jealousy, laziness, and workaholicism. They can see my joys and my despair, my hopes and my despondencies. I hope in the midst of all this they get a glimpse of humility.
I have every confidence that, on the whole, it is easier to get that view in a small church than a big one.