As this blog gets older, it has become quite noticeable how impossible it seems for any committed NewSpringer to criticize their church. Note, for example, one commentator’s tortured defense of Brad Cooper’s use of Bad A** Mother F****** to describe the church, as well as another’s commitment to confront sin and quick backtracking on that commitment.
The blind loyalty to corrupted leaders makes more sense after you read Steven Furtick’s perspective on what it’s like to lead one of these modern churches.
I think most leaders struggle with a measure of paranoia. For some it’s a fear of abandonment. For others it’s the looming threat of betrayal. Whatever form it takes, the power of paranoia can be paralyzing….
Leaders shouldn’t be oblivious to the loyalty level of those he leads. But it’s equally detrimental to give precious attention to reading into everything everyone says, approaching every day like it’s a witch hunt, consistently putting our team members on trial.
Because the fact is, there will always be someone saying something undermining about you. People (you included) are not perfectly loyal. And when you see that disloyalty in a tangible form, by all means, act on it. Don’t tolerate it. Be decisive and severe.
Furtick is here advising fellow pastors to stop their paranoid witch hunts, because they’re certain to perceive disloyalty somewhere if they’re looking for it. Notice also the Morgan Solution (TM); slightly imperfect loyalty demands severe punishment.
As I’ve said before, that’s just brutal.
It’s also a consequence of thinking you can arbitrarily redefine church government, and by redefine, I mean ignore it and substitute absolute authoritarianism.
Noble said a few days ago,
I believe each church must wrestle with the Scriptures and personalities that are present and allow the Lord to show them the best way to structure for maximum effectiveness.
I see how the New Testament describes a church led by elders and deacons, but not any talk about how it’s all negotiable if you have an irascible or ADD leader.
When followers must completely sell out to the leader’s vision, they dare not question it publicly. The dogged insistence on emotional compliance with vision even seems to infect Noble’s mid-level leaders. Note this account from NewSpring’s Creative Arts pastor:
I had a meeting scheduled with a person on my team to discuss programing and communication flow on Sundays. As we went through the nuts and bolts of those things I sensed a frustration level in this persons demeanor. This led me to think that this guy wasn’t fully bought into the vision of our church and I began to question him – strongly – on his buy in level.
Slightly questionable body language earned this team member a first-hand look at NewSpring’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
Beyond even the vision, it seems evident that they also won’t question the leader’s behavior lest they be shunned or disciplined later on. NewSpringers constantly assure us that this is not about a man, but they betray themselves with their convoluted excuses for the man’s (and, by extension, his hirelings’) poor behavior and language. If this was all about Jesus, what harm would there be in acknowledging specific examples when your man falls short?
It’s also interesting that Furtick assumes that paranoia is a normal part of leadership. I haven’t seen that quality in leaders of most churches that I’ve been a part of. (They’re almost certainly hiding it from me, but perhaps I’m just paranoid.)
There seems to be a political parallel here. Look through history and you’ll find that the more tyrannical and authoritarian the regime, the more paranoid the leader, and the more obsessive the leadership is about not tolerating criticism or complaints.
Pastor Furtick, if paranoia is a problem, perhaps you might try changing your system of church government.
Don’t worry, be happy.