Pastors Egos and Church Pirates

I have been a pastor for nearly 12 years now.  In those 12 years, I have worked in a suburb of San Francisco, Tacoma, Washington and now here in Kirkland Washington.  There are certain things I know to be true about being a pastor…

I will always have to accept the challenges and hurts that come with the job.

I have an ego (as EVERY pastor does) that needs to be in check at all times.

I have insecurities as a leader that I must be honest about.

Recently, I came across a video of Pastor Ed Young Jr. in Dallas, Texas.  Young has a massive church along with a huge television ministry.  No doubt there are thousands who attend his church each week with millions of dollars flowing thought their ministry.  I have heard Young speak on several occasions and actually like his creativity and humor.  But, after hearing what he has to say about church planters, or as he likes to call them…”church pirates”, I have to say I’m very frustrated.

The video was recorded at a recent staff meeting.  He is obviously warning his employees to not even think about leaving and starting a church in their city.  He continually compares the church to corporate America and gives blanket statements about his thoughts on church planters.

I have seen this sort of thing in staff meetings before when a couple pastors in my former church decided to plant in the tacoma area.  They both have gone on to have very successful churches reaching many unchurched families.  But it came at a price.  They were never given approval and for years I listened to the “warnings” of not to even think of doing what they did.  Looking back on those days I realize that many people were hurt in this mess.  The church was not a movement of grace and love, but of selfishness, insecurity and a greedy corporate apporach to reaching people.

If someone in our little church decided to leave and start a new church here in Kirkland, I will be the first to admit that my insecurity of losing families would be very real.  But, I hope that my love for and belief in the church would support this new work, and I would in no way look at this as church pirating.  I realize this is all much easier said then done, but afterall, the church always has been about a movement of grace and restoration through people…not senior pastors

 I wish more pastors would get out of their own way…stop leading the church like fortune 500 companies…take their damn names of their buildings…and quit treating their congregations like they are some kind of property!  I know this sounds harsh, but I just can’t see how Young’s or any other pastor who thinks this way is honoring the gospel.  Competing for the gospel will never be a part of the Kingdom, and will surely lead more and more away from the church. 

What are your thoughts about this?  Should there be rules about how close a church should be planted?  Is Ed Young Jr. right to say what he says, or is his ego just getting in the way? 



4 responses to “Pastors Egos and Church Pirates

  1. Greg Van Dussen

    I’m afraid you’ve misheard Ed. He clearly distinguishes between planters and pirates. The difference has to do with motivation, especially the exaggerated egos of staff pastors, and using their staff positions to build a base for “their” new “church.” Piracy is not missional, but self-serving.

  2. The times I’ve heard Ed speak, I’ve been very encouraged, and also appreciate his creativity… however, I completely agree with you about the Corporate America references…

    The church at large has taken a Biblical Eldership and Apostleship and turned it into a Board of Directors who fiscally manage the churches resources.

    What ever happened to waiting on tables and serving in ministry?

    What ever happened to recognizing fruit in people’s lives and commissioning them into their places of serving through the laying on of hands instead of awarding people with titles and influence according to corporate job performance standards?

    When did the church become a training ground for personal gain and political corruption rather than training to reign with Christ in the establishment of his Kingdom on earth?

    Why do pastors wear suits?

    When did we do away with the system that Jesus set up for governing his church?… where are the Apostles and Prophets? Why are there only Pastors and Teachers and Evangelists? Why are senior Pastors the ultimate position in the Kingdom?

    Now I’m rambling… can we please take the corporate, fear-based, people pleasing, “professional christian” feel out of the Kingdom… Jesus didn’t put it there and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t belong.

  3. @ Adam…

    Thanks for the comments…I sense you are wrestling with some of this and that is very good! Keep on questioning, keep on conversing, and if possible try and do it all with a spirit of love!

    Two of your questions are very intriguing to me. First, “when did we do away with the system that Jesus set up for governing his church?”…my answer to that is that I’m not sure Jesus ever did set up a governing system for church. He set the example for a way of life that his followers would die for. It really wasn’t until much later we see an organized church and anytime humanity leads, it’s going to be messy.

    The only mention he makes of church is after Peter’s statement in Caesaria Philipi when asked who Jesus was, he said the Messiah. It was that statement that Jesus said he’d build a church upon. Maybe that’s our problem…we think everyone else needs the Messiah, and we sit in our comfortable churches, in our comfortable positions, waiting for the world to come to us. Maybe we need the Messiah to deliver us again before we can be the kind of movement of people he called his followers to be.

    Secondly, you ask “where are the prophets?”…good question. As one who has been raised in a pentacostal / AG world (like myself) we grew up celebrating those who occasionally spoke a prophetic word in a church service.
    I encourage you to really look outside the AG culture and listen to the voices of those like Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Phylis Tickle, Rose Swetman, Jason Evans, and so many others. These men and women of God are speaking a kingdom language that many don’t want to hear…much like most didn’t want to listen to the prophets of the OT. Too many discount them for being liberals…but take time to discern their messages and you begin to hear the heart of God. So, I say…the prophets are all around us…they are being used in great ways and the church is better off because of them.

    As far as why pastors wear suits…it’s a power thing. I’m reading some fascinating stuff on Constantine and how he used different forms of power to nationalize the gospel. That’s a conversation for a different time.

    Thank you, my friend.

  4. Pingback: Being the church, or chasing cool? « Entering the Conversations

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