The Terrible Cancer in the Church
The recent revelations about Todd Bentley's immoral lifestyle and now the news items about Michael Guglielmucci faking a cancer diagnosis and miracle, highlight the terrible cancer that is running rampant in some sections of the church. I want to make it clear that in this article I'm not judging any particular individual- this is about the system that feeds on talented and committed people then pushes them to self-destruction, spitting them out to make room for the next person.
If Catholics have been heart-broken by the unending stories of paedophile priests, then the Pentecostal part of the christian family really needs to come to terms with the unending stories of "celebrity pastors" falling short in spectacular ways.
I'm sure that everybody has theories about why these things happen.
Celibacy is often cited as a cause in the Catholic situation. But child abuse is about power rather than lust, of anger rather than sexual gratification.
Here is my take on the situation.
People are being propelled into roles and positions that very few people are created to fulfil.
In the Catholic situation, and in most denominations for that matter, ministers are seen as, and treated as, employees with varying levels of respect. In the Catholic tradition the priest often had for many centuries unfettered power.
In the Protestant denominations, ministers are pretty much like bank managers and other professionals- there for a particular job, with a job description, salary package etc. Often they move on after relatively short tenures and are either venerated, tolerated or hated. There is usually no sense of people and pastor belonging together as one import is followed by the next.
In the Pentecostal churches, particularly those influenced by Hillsong (i.e. most of them), there is a tendency to treat the "Senior Pastor" as part celebrity, part media superstar, part CEO. To make matters worst, there is a voracious appetite for new faces, new talent and of course it has to be youth.
So all three of the major branches of the church in the West (I know absolutely nothing of Orthodox church structures so I can't comment on them) suffer from similar problems.
Basically it comes down to this- the pastor/priest/minister is pretty much autonomous and employed.
By autonomous, I don't mean they get to do whatever they darn well like. Rather pastors are often working alone in providing leadership rather than in partnership with the other five-fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11- apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers.
In particular, in most churches there is no sense of fathering that pastors (along with everybody else) needs. After all if it's all about the institution or the corporate takings or the celebrity circus, then why do we need fathers and sons?
As I keep on saying over and over again, the church is meant to be a family- organic relationships. Nobody needs to reign supreme, although there needs to be leadership. The pastor is not meant to be the boss- he's meant to be the dad, with his own "dad" cheering him on and giving support, encouragement and correction when needed.
If we have the relationships right with mutual surrender and the ability to love each other with God's love then these malignant cancers would not have a chance to feed on the Body.
And nobody is meant to be a celebrity-- not the Senior Senior Pastor, not the charismatic teacher, not the worship leader, not the Youth Leader.
It's all meant to be about Jesus not about individual celebrities or corporations.
So we can all wait for the next Pentecostal disaster, televangelist disclosures and paedophile priest-- probably about tomorrow or the next day. And it will keep happening relentlessly until we change the way we view the church and its people.