The Discipleship Dodge 11

In this post, we find Steven Furtick, once again, tirelessly running through any snippet of scripture possible in order to justify his actions:

(ACTS 2:42) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Did you catch it?  They devoted themselves.  Who devoted themselves?  The new believers!  Nobody devoted them to the teaching.  They had to do it for themselves.  The apostles taught with authority, clarity, and consistency.  But the burden of discipleship rested primarily on the new believers, not the leaders of the church.

Gee, had Pastors for the last several centuries realized this, they could have saved much time trying to make disciples. Just dunk a load of people in an above-ground pool, and let them fend for themselves.

Of course, that becomes problematic when you read Matthew 28:19:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

If Steven is right, this verse must be speaking to non-disciples, and Jesus is telling them to make themselves disciples.

Wait…Jesus was actually speaking to the Apostles?

This is the danger of taking one word out of one verse, and trying to build doctrine around it. The vast majority of the time, you are going to get it wrong.

Like this.

And this.

And this.

Is the Word of God not worth the extra effort it would take to get it right more often?

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11 thoughts on “The Discipleship Dodge

  1. James Duncan Sep 24, 2009 7:26 am

    And to devote yourself to teaching, don’t you first need a teacher?

  2. James Downing Sep 24, 2009 8:21 am

    Yup.

    And – Should a shepherd spend more time feeding the sheep, or finding ways to justify not feeding the sheep?

  3. Josh Sep 24, 2009 9:19 am

    I agree with your point that Furtick is taking that verse waaaaaaay out of context to prove a point it doesn’t prove. I don’t totally disagree with his point for another reason, though. If a person wants to grow and learn, he doesn’t have to grow and learn at the feet of the pastor of his church. In ten minutes I could download dozens of solid, deep sermons to listen to in my car, on the treadmill or sitting down with my bible open to the text. (In fact, I do this regularly, listening to pastors I both agree and disagree with.) We have more access to bible exposition today than at any time in history. So if a person has a desire to learn coupled with the slightest willingness to do something besides attend a Sunday morning service, he can easily be “fed” as much as he wants.

    I’m not saying this is the best approach to church. I don’t think “deep” and “relevant” are polar opposites and some of the sermons that I enjoy and are relevant to me are the “deepest” ones. Also, I not really a fan of super-cool Furtick, so this isn’t really a defense of him. But it does seem that people on here believe a pastor at any church is responsible for meeting every conceivable “need” of every person at his church. I agree that the church should meet the congregation’s need for teaching, exhortation, care and prayer for illness, etc., etc., etc. I don’t believe that the senior/lead/sole pastor is the one that has to do all that himself. Moses appointed judges below him when his workload became to great. The apostles appointed deacons to help with benevolence administration. Paul (mostly) and Jesus (completely) delegated baptism to others. I think today’s pastors can do the same.

    That doesn’t mean that I think they always do it wisely. For example, in a lot of church plants, “deeper teaching” is delegated to small groups with leaders who may not have much training or insight, and who may not understand even the basic doctrines of the faith. And its personally off putting to me to hear some pastors I’ve listened to online boast about how unlikely they are to visit the sick in the hospital, or to listen to concerns about the church, or do other traditional “pastor things”. It often sounds condescending and arrogant, to be honest. But I don’t go to a pastor’s church and if his congregants are ok with that, that’s their business.

  4. James Downing Sep 24, 2009 10:28 am

    Josh- good thoughts. I want to respond to what I perceive as your three major points.
    1 – A believer can find spiritual food if he wants. True. In the end, we will all be held accountable. However, that doesn’t diminish a shepherd’s role in guiding the flock. I think a believer could flourish in basically any setting as long as he has a copy of the Bible. However, a pastor’s role is definitely to nourish that growth.
    2 – A pastor does not have to be the only care-giver. Also true, but the responsibility does come back to the pastor. If the care is delegated through deacons, they must be equipped…etc. There is no loophole in scripture that excuses a pastor from this resonsibilty, nor should he be searching for one (I know you don’t gisagree on this.) You would think a pastor would have a heart for discipleship, but with the new CEO model, that isn’t always the case.
    3 – If a pastor’s congregants are OK with this, then that is their business. This I have to disagree with a little. I think this non-pastoral model is damaging to the church, as a whole. Obviously if members are taught that they shouldn’t have a problem with this, they probably won’t. Unfortunately, this is the model that a ton of new pastors are following, because of the visible success it has brought.

  5. Tim P. Sep 24, 2009 12:14 pm

    Speaking as a pastor, there’s one more layer to the “self-feeder” approach that needs to be considered: there’s a lot of BAD teaching out there (in books, TV, the Internet, etc.). One of the shepherding duties of the pastor should be to help the congregants sort through the poison and be fed by the purity of God’s word. Of course, there are a lot of bad churches out there as well…

  6. James Downing Sep 24, 2009 12:23 pm

    Right. Protecting the sheep from the wolves.

  7. Pingback: Steven Furtick and The Discipleship Dodge - Rapture Forums

  8. Paul Sep 24, 2009 1:54 pm

    Downing, Josh,

    you both make good points. wish i could carry this conversation on in person. the biggest problem i think here is not that furtick totally twists the scripture (which of course is huge. perhaps he should read “exegetical fallacies” by D.A. Carson.), but it is the heart/attitude of the man. of course the pastor cannot do everything, but he should do everything he can to faithfully obey the entire council of God in regard to pastoral ministry. Furtick’s use of scripture doesn’t neccessarily show ignorance (although it might) but i think reveals a sinful attitude toward God’s Word. He refuses to do the work of a faitihfl elder. So therefore, He has to read something into the text inorder to justify his CEO pastor mindset in the fine-tuned machine that is Elevation. (I mean him and his staff…not neccessarily every single person who attends there). The best image that the Bible has given is a shepherd. The shepherd loves the sheep, chases them when they wander, serves them, nurtures them, protects them, seeks those that are lost, brings them back to the fold, and need be, kills the wolves. For the pastor, it is not about vision or numbers or success, but it’s about loving Jesus and caring for the sheep He has entrusted to us according to the Bible.

  9. Tommy F Sep 24, 2009 5:04 pm

    Josh, If you take Furtick’s comments (and your post to the degree that you agree with him) to its logical conclusion, then really Furtick ought to go ahead and resign from Elevation. He’s giving up one of the two main obligations of a pastor: teach and serve.

    As you say (rightly) there are tons of sermons, commentaries, and books that can be consumed.

    You could, in fact, argue that Furtick’s comments really mean he should do his best to dismantle Elevation services. Why have them? After all, it’s the Apostles’ teaching, not Furtick’s, that are in view in the passage above.

  10. Josh Sep 24, 2009 11:55 pm

    1. Where does the bible say that the senior pastor must be the one that personally “serves” the congregation in the manner you’re suggesting? I cited three examples in the bible where a Jesus, the Apostles, Paul and Moses delegated “serving” functions.

    2. Furtick does “teach.” Where does the bible say the pastor of the church is solely responsible for the “deep” teaching? Ever heard of the priesthood of the believer?

  11. Tommy F Sep 25, 2009 12:12 am

    1. I never said Furtick or any pastor had to serve each person.

    2. It appears that Furtick wants to teach his congregation that he won’t teach them. Clever.

    It amazes me how this line of thinking is so easily bought. Again, shouldn’t the natural conclusion be: don’t go to church. Just download a podcast, read a blog, read a book?

    It’s like a chef telling people: “Beginning tomorrow I won’t be cooking. Oh, but be sure and come back.” Which begs the question: why come back?

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