IS 'LEADERSHIP' the PROBLEM?? ANDREW STROM: As you can imagine, I got all sorts of replies on the 'OUT-OF-CHURCH' question overnight. One of the major responses that kept coming through was basically this: "Yes - we agree that there must be a real Body and real leaders. But where in my area can I find such a thing? -I have looked and looked." For example, BETTY: "If, as you say, I MUST have a body, where in my little town is that body??? I would joyfully join it. My only option is the institutional church. What do you want me to do?" And also JIM: 'There are many of us who are "loners", but not by choice. I have been to many "churches" in my area looking for the things you mention and believe me, it is not there. Talk about apostasy, it is everywhere, along with a good deal of deception to boot. I would appreciate knowing where one might find the type of church that would make up a Body as described that I could get involved with. It certainly doesn't seem to be any of the mainstream churches, and I have tried many smaller unknown ones too, and been even more disappointed....' Several people also sent me a list of the types of leaders they have found in their area, and asked me which of these they should sit under? - (1) Non-Spirit-filled - no anointing, (2) Controlling, (3) Casual about sin in the congregation, (4) High-handed and domineering, (5) Never preaches on repentance or holiness, (6) Word of Faith - Prosperity, (7) A lot of 'hype' but little love, (8) Preaches endlessly on 'money' and tithing, etc, etc. What am I supposed to say to these people? Are they exaggerating the scope of the problem? Is it really true that there are so few GENUINE SHEPHERDS out there? Sadly, I can at least partially believe it. "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Mt 9:36). What an awful, awful plight the Western church is in, if these things are true. But I do know that there are SOME good shepherds around. For instance, what about the pastor's conferences that David Wilkerson holds - who do you think attends those? -Thousands of leaders. So there is at least a remnant of good shepherds out there. But perhaps they are too few and far-between? One lady named CHRISTINE wrote to me: "There is only one thing that hasn't been mentioned in this debate of sorts, and that's the deficient "shepherds" and leaders who have been the primary reason many Christians are running away to begin with! If they would tune in with the Lord, perhaps there would be unity and the "Body of Christ" would be functioning as the New Testament COMMANDED.... I can't even find one Holy Spirit led church anywhere in my area. It's the same old saga every place you go. Man-made agendas, programs that bore you to sleep, obsession with money & growth, and who will boast the loudest this Sunday about their ministries & gifts from God? "This is the main reason things have come unglued. So many good saints are tired & crushed by lukewarm, compromising preachers and lack of order & accord in the body...We are hungry for the right order as the Lord ordained, but the leaders are out of order in MOST instances. Many of us have spent genuine time before the Lord, not making waves, trying to be obedient to leaders who are completely oblivious to the voice of the Lord... In many places there is corruption you wouldn't believe, and I was in four fellowships that were totally dismantled by the hand of God for similar reasons in the past 15 years. We want to obey and commit and follow the leaders earnestly, but given the choices we have, we are sick and tired of trying. I think the shepherds need to go back to Christianity 101 and start over. They need to repent and re-commit to Christ before attempting to tend the sick and scattering sheep. "You can't just blame the saints in this situation. You must ask yourself WHY? Why are the saints scattering, looking for greener pastures? Because like the book of Amos said in ch. 8, "There would be a famine in the land, one of hearing the word of the Lord." "Right now I know many, many, on hold because we are caught between a rock and a hard place.We have no sense of belonging anywhere because of the intense hypocrisy and game playing... We want so much to please the Lord, and have NO problem submitting to leadership, but where are the men of God who are supposed to LEAD THE SHEEP? I think someone needs to address them first. We are disgusted with dead shepherds & sermons. These people pleasing, non-offensive ministries are draining the life out of the saints.... Where's the Holy Spirit? Give us something to go to and be a part of... At this point, staying home is better, at least we can seek the Lord without any pretense. "Many of us have no intention of being deliberately rebellious. But who would want to sit in a dead service led by self-centered ministers who rub shoulders with others like them? If we could find a Holy Spirit motivated Pastor and flow as the New Testament church was intended to, we'd be there whenever the doors opened... We are not against assembling together as long as it's according to the Bible. "If I hear one more person say, "there is no perfect church", I think I'll scream! We aren't looking for a "perfect church." We are looking to find CHRIST in the center again, and to become more CHRIST-LIKE ourselves!!! "What are we supposed to be a part of? Cake sales, yard sales, watered down sermons, program after boring program, lectures about giving more money and "a form of godliness denying the power thereof?" This is happening all across the USA. The sheep are going to be only as good as the shepherd who leads them... If the leaders are playing games, what do you expect the sheep to do? Some may be content to follow the crowd, but the Lord has called others to Himself for a meaningful relationship with Him, and the local churches aren't hearing the marching orders of the Lord! The Lord does have a remnant who are seriously determined to follow Christ and obey!" ANDREW AGAIN: Certainly some profound and undeniable points made above. So what can people do for 'Body-life' who are caught in this situation? Well, if there really is nothing else, then perhaps the below post from our Forum may be of interest. It is really only a 'partial' solution, but it is certainly better than nothing! -Take a look: JEFF writes: "I have been "Out-of-Church" for some time now, and have been wanting to - and being led by the Lord to - have a house church in my home. Recently I found a local expression of the Body of Christ that is meeting in a home. Their entire purpose is to have a home church, and raise up the men to be leaders, so that eventually, THEIR home becomes a meeting place for a home church. "While there is and are leaders, the emphasis is on each man bringing something to the meeting. Instead of just one man being the one who "brings the Word of the Lord". "Just after a few weeks after "assembling together" with this group, God had led other people to my family, and us to others, that will soon be assembling in my home. "The problem with sitting in a "traditional church"... is just that. The men just SIT. The men are to be leading, or learning to, and exercising leadership. If they just passively SIT, they are not doing what God wants them to. In my opinion, they might as well be "Out-of-Church." "God does not want MEN to SIT. He wants them to Lead. He wants them to Lead their family, and He wants them to lead others to Christ. "One big church, with one man doing the leading, does not allow other men to grow into leadership. Small groups of men, (families) afford each man the opportunity to be obedient to the Scripture: 1 Cor 14:26- "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation...." (-NKJV). "In our meetings, we always start off with a potluck dinner. Each one brings something to eat.. and there is plenty for everyone. The rest of the meeting is no different. Each man brings some spiritual food to eat... and there is always plenty for everyone to be exhorted. "Remember the REASON for assembling is to EXHORT ONE ANOTHER. You go to bless them.. not to be blessed by them. This requires you to bring something to the Body of Christ. This has not changed since the time the Israelites were at the Mountain of the Lord after they came out of Egypt. "I encourage each one who reads this, to consider either joining a home church in their area, or starting one...." ANDREW AGAIN: As I said, the above is still only a partial solution, because it does not stop the splintering of the Body into thousands of tiny pieces. But it is certainly much better than nothing. I am convinced that the lack of TRUE SHEPHERDS in many parts of the church today is a CRISIS that God will not allow to continue. One way or another, He will find good shepherds for His sheep. This state of things really is so terribly sad. How grieved God must be over it. And as He has often done in the past, I am convinced He is about to bring large-scale "CHANGE". -That is why the coming move of God must be a 'REFORMATION', not just a 'Revival'. -Leadership really is a huge issue to Him. God bless you, my friends. Kindest regards in Christ, Andrew Strom.