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Avoiding the Cult of Personality (part 1)

February 14, 2009

Last night was one of those nights that makes me thankful to be in seminary. Andy came over to have some chicken pot pie with Megan and I, and we talked more about the intricacies of church planting. We spent the majority of the time discussing a question Andy brought up – how does a church avoid the “cult of personality”?

The question is this: how does a church avoid finding its identity in one man. We hear it all the time – “I go to __________’s church,” with the blank being filled by the name of the senior pastor. What happens if that guy leaves? Gets sick? Moves to Hawaii? Is it then another person’s church? Does the church just close its doors? Really the statement “I go to __________’s church” isn’t incorrect – we just want that blank filled by the name, “Jesus Christ.”

I do believe that churches should have a lead pastor and that there needs to be clear human leadership and authority. But how can we make it more than “(enter senior pastor’s name here)’s church?” Here’s one of the many ideas we had:

1. Discipleship in the DNA

The lead pastor should not being looked to as the one who does all the “real” ministry. Instead, discipleship should be part of the church’s DNA. This is more than having “discipleship classes,” which is generally the same thing as Sunday school. Instead, members are “doing life” together, teaching and training up one another in the faith.

I’ve seen this at my church, Promised Land. A new member is going to have a number of people beyond the lead pastor wanting to pour into their life. So now, people don’t come to our church and only identify with the lead pastor. Instead, they can be in our 10:30 service and see a number of other ministers who just happen not to be on staff, but have been influential in their spiritual growth.

If you’ve got a church full of people that can only identify with the Senior Pastor as a minister in their lives, then you’re well on your way to developing the cult of personality. Develop a church where every member is expected to be a minister, to disciple and be discipled, so that people’s connection to the church is deeper than one man.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. matt thomas permalink
    February 16, 2009 12:11 am

    seen the giglio video before…amazing!

    • February 16, 2009 12:19 am

      I won’t lie… it got a little bit dusty as I was watching that video!

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