Close Your Church for Good, Chap 4, Sec 2. Cancelling your church service is scary. But it seems that the main objections are not theological, but personal issues related to power and control.
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Thinking about cancelling the church service is terrifying to most church leaders because we depend on the people to fill the pews and pay the bills, one of which is our own salary. But what if the church didn’t have buildings or paid pastors? Would you feel free to let your people go? The answer by most pastors would again be “No.” The reason is that we not only need people to pay the bills, but we feel responsible to protect the people God has put under our care, and help them know what to believe and how to live.
As a former pastor myself, that is how I thought. I viewed the relationship between the people in the pew and the pastor in the pulpit as mutually beneficial. The people should attend services and give of their time and money to support the budget and programs of the church. In return, I would do my best to provide for their spiritual needs and guide them through the hazards of life.
Looking back, especially at some of the disputes I had with certain people, and some of the struggles and problems we faced as a church, I now believe that my ultimate concern was for my own prominence and power, and that I would get a paycheck. When it came to the people, I wanted to control them. I thought that if they believed what I taught, and did what I said, everybody’s life (including mine) would be better. I also believed that greater attendance on Sunday morning would provide greater power, prominence, and influence for the church (and myself) in the wider community. I even remember watching with great interest some of the internal feuds of other local churches, hoping that some of their people would leave and start attending my church.
All of this, I believe, does not reveal a heart focused on incarnation and principles of the Kingdom of God, but rather, a heart focused on Satanic influences of power, prestige, recognition, and control. I fully confess that these were characteristics in my heart and life.