Are We Addicted to Leadership?

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The Roys Report
The Roys Report
Are We Addicted to Leadership?
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Why is it that we have so many bullies and heavy-handed leaders in the church? Perhaps it’s because we’re addicted to leadership—and have elevated a model of leadership that has everything to do with the world and nothing to do with Jesus.

In this edition of The Roys Report, Julie discusses Christians’ addiction to leadership with Lance Ford—a pastor, church-planter, and co-founder of the Sentralized Conference in Kansas City. In 2012—long before bully pastors like Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald were exposed—Lance wrote a book called UnLeader, warning about what he sensed was a misplaced emphasis on leadership.

Lance noticed that Christian books on leadership were hitting the New York Times best-seller lists. Church conferences on leadership were booming. But books on discipleship and being a servant like Jesus—sadly, they were about as scarce as the servant leaders they aimed to create.

Lance also had some experiences that confirmed his concerns. These included meeting with pastors at Driscoll’s former Mars Hill Church months before the church imploded. Lance also saw a friend and pastor, Darrin Patrick, transform as he followed Driscoll’s top-down, unbiblical model.

Today, we’re living with the results of decades of our leadership addiction, Lance says. We have pastors made in the image of superstar CEO’s. We have leaders who may be sincere in their love for Jesus, but they’ve drunk “punch (that’s) been spiked.”

What does it mean to lead like Jesus? And how do we wean ourselves off this toxic addiction? These vital questions are at the heart of my discussion with Lance Ford.

This Weeks Guests

Lance Ford

Lance is the co-founder of the Sentralized Conference in Kansas City. He blogs at www.sentralizedgathering.com. With over two decades experience as a pastor and church planter, Lance is a writer, coach, and consultant who has designed unique training systems currently being used by networks, seminaries, and leaders throughout the world. His passion is to give himself to resourcing and equipping churches and leaders anywhere and everywhere as they develop missional lifestyles. Lance holds a Masters Degree in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. His book, Right Here Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People, was co-authored with Alan Hirsch. He serves on the National Leadership team for Forge America Missional Training Network.
Show Transcript

SPEAKERS

JULIE ROYS, LANCE FORD

JULIE ROYS  00:04

Why is it that we have so many bullies and heavy handed leaders in the church? Could it be that we’ve elevated a model of leadership that has everything to do with the world, but nothing to do with Jesus? Welcome to the Roys report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And joining me today is Lance Ford, a pastor/church planter/blogger and co-founder of The Centralized Conference in Kansas City. Lance is also the author of the 2012 book UnLeader, which was published long before the bully pastor phenomenon became daily news. It was before scandals involving Mark Driscoll or James McDonald or Dave Ramsey. But back then Lance began noticing something amiss in evangelicalism, it seemed everyone was obsessed with being a leader. books on leadership hit the New York Times bestseller list, conferences on leadership were booming, but books on discipleship and being a servant like Jesus, well, sadly, they were about as scarce as the servant leaders they aim to create. And now we’re living with the results. We have pastors made in the image of superstar CEOs, or as Lance writes, we have leaders who are addicted to leadership. They may be sincere in their love for Jesus but in Lance’s words, they’re drinking punch that’s been spiked. So friends, what does it mean to lead like Jesus and how do we wean ourselves with this toxic addiction? Well, I’m extremely excited to dive into that with Lance Ford. But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus the school offers more than 60 majors great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to Judsonu.edu. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Curt Marquardt, are men of character. To check them out, just go to buyaca123. com. Well, again, joining me is Lance Ford, a pastor, church planter and blogger. He’s also the author of the 2012 book Unleader: Reimagining Leadership and Why We Must. And just recently he released another book with co author Rob Wagner and Alan Hirsch called The Starfish and the Spirit: Unleashing the Leadership Potential of Churches and Organizations. So Lance, welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you join me.

LANCE FORD  02:43

It’s an honor to be with you, Julie. Been looking forward to visiting with you.

JULIE ROYS  02:47

Well, after reading your book UnLeader, I have to say I’ve been very much looking forward to talking with you. And I think I said in one of our email exchanges that I was laughing and crying at the same time, more laughing but thinking I should be crying. But this is probably my mechanism for dealing with it. But we’re clearly in a crisis in the church. It seems like every day we have another scandal that’s unfolding. And a lot of it centers often around the top leaders. You say one of your basic premises is that as a church culture, we’ve become addicted to leadership. Would you explain that and how this developed?

LANCE FORD  03:28

Well, I certainly believe that we are addicted to leadership. And I kind of pin point it back, Julie to the Church Growth Movement that really started in the late 1960s and started gaining steam in the 70s. My alma mater, Fuller Seminary was the center of The Institute of Church Growth, Donald McGovern, and so the church growth started becoming a thing, till by the 1980s., it gave way to the seeker movement and all these other kinds of augmented systems of church growth. But it wasn’t long until in the 80s, it spurred out what I call the leadership industrial complex in the church. So that pretty much every training that you hear about, all the conferences, everything, it’s leadership, leadership, leadership, and it’s just become an addiction. It’s become an obsessive addiction for staff members, for pastors. The mantra everything rises or falls on leadership. I think a lot of pastors believe that’s probably in the Bible somewhere. You know, it’s just been drank like Kool Aid. I was a church planter and I was a pastor for several years and pursuing that hamster wheel of leadership. And it just got exhausting. And I started realizing why I was so exhausted and it was because it was so much about me. It was so much centered on you know, me being the best me and all that pressure. And I remember reading one day the familiar passage, here Is my servant in whom I’m well pleased, and I thought the Lord didn’t say here is my leader, in whom I’m well pleased. And so anyway, it’s becoming an anti obsession for me for about the last 15 or 16 years. That’s really what I focus on.

JULIE ROYS  05:16

Well, when you talk about leadership being an addiction or obsession, the first thing that pops into my mind, and maybe this is because I’ve done a lot of reporting on it, is Willow Creek Community Church. And I remember talking to some of the women there that had been abused, but they had been on staff for decades before they left and they said that leadership had become almost an idol there. It’s like all we talked about was leadership. And we know that the Global Leadership Summit grew out of that. And we know how it all is kind of ending. I mean, the Global Leadership Summit is now tried to separate itself from Bill Hybels. I don’t know how you can separate yourself from the DNA of what he taught. But the Global Leadership Summit, I mean, started in the 1990s. At one point, it was like, I think streaming to over 120,000 people, it had stars like, and this is what was interesting, it wasn’t any more, just attracting, as speakers, your top name Christian guests,. We had Bono show up, we had Bill Clinton show up. Prime Minister, Tony Blair. So it became a lot of these secular, you know, Bono claims to be a Christian. So I mean, there might be some faith there. But It wasn’t necessarily Christian principles we were being taught, it was business principles. In fact, I found an article that said it was in a business magazine back from, you know, the early 2000s -2010, maybe as late as that, but it actually called the Global Leadership Summit, a pop up business school. And it was talking about it very glowingly like there were there were businesses that weren’t Christian at all showing up at the Global Leadership Summit. So what happens to the church, when we begin embracing some of these business principles? How does it change the church?

LANCE FORD  06:58

Recently, there was the CEO of this mortgage company called better.com. I don’t know if you have heard this in the last couple of days, but he went on a zoom call with he and he invited 900 of their employees on it and fired them on a zoom call, like 45 seconds into the call. Jjust ruthless just firing them and said, hey, you know, hey, I know it’s right before the holidays, everything I feel really bad about this. But if you’re on this call, you’re fired. Well, to say the least, he’s gotten a lot of backlash. But you kmow what, Julie? that kind of thing could have happened in the church. You’ve heard stories of it. I have files of stories and interviews from the exact same type of thing happening. So when we start drawing from the world, we start acting like the world, but that term business. I’ve heard tons of pastors say the church is a business. And the church is not a business. It’s a body. It’s not an organization. It’s an organism. You know, it is a living, breathing body of, of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it’s funny that it’s really not funny or surprising that you would mention Hybels but you know, one of his biggest books, Courageous Leadership, within that, he talks about the church is a business. And in fact, one of the things he said he finds it really “interesting” was that Jesus said, I must be about my Father’s business. And then he starts listing the neutron, Jack Welch’s, and, you know, the Jim Collins’s and all these others, you know, all these great leaders Attila the Hun, that we can draw from, you know, and all these great leaders, you know, that we can draw, you know, universal truth from and apply it to the church. But the pause seems to never be that no, the Holy Spirit had and Jesus’s ethos and Jesus’s character has to be the filter for all that business practice and acumen, but too often it’s not.

JULIE ROYS  08:56

I thought something that was really insightful that I read that you that you wrote was about how many times discipleship is mentioned in the New Testament. You say it’s mentioned disciple is mentioned 260 times, follow me is mentioned 23 times leader or leader, only 7 times. Yeah. You know, is discipleship, like this idea of bringing people along and saying, you know, as Paul said, Follow me as I follow Christ, right? imitate me. Is that getting lost? What are we doing when it comes to discipleship, or do we just not even care about that?

LANCE FORD  09:34

Yeah. Well, it’s interesting that in the last couple of years, a lot of the bigger church conferences have started saying, Hey, we missed discipleship. Like, oh, wow, you know, how did we miss that? When it is this is the thing that Jesus focused on. Once again, Willow think back what 12-15 years ago the Reveal Study, right? on study that they did on their selves. They had been the leader in teaching churches how to “do church”, and then they came back and they said, Oh, well, we polled our people, we found out that they’re actually leaving our church to get discipled. So we better figure this out. Oh, by the way, we have a conference for you. It shows you everything we’ve learned in the last three months, you know about ourselves. So they failed in disciple making. And then, of course, we see that they failed in leadership. And what are the two things that Willow Creek and I’m not just trying to pile on Willow here, but the two things that Willow is know most for is how to ‘do church’, and number two, how to do leadership. And they’ve really been an abject failure on both accounts, and they’ve been the biggest influence in the North American church, if not the worldwide Protestant church, in both of those aspects over the last 20-25 years too.

JULIE ROYS  10:50

I remember, this is probably 20 years ago, and my sister happens to be in children’s ministry, and she got some of the children’s ministry education that was coming out from Willow Creek, and I remember her at the time saying, This is terrible. We’re to be discipling parents so that they can disciple their children. It was all about entertainment. And this needs to be the most exciting hour of the week for these children. And it’s a very different model, but it was popular. It was extraordinarily popular. And so it gave birth to all of these huge mega churches, one of them being Mars Hill Church, which has been getting so much attention lately for the rise and fall of Mars Hill, that CT is doing that podcast, which is excellent podcast. And then I’ve been doing a lot of reporting on you know, Mark Driscoll has just rebooted down in Scottsdale, Arizona. And honestly, it’s almost Mars Hill on steroids, because now he’s like, let’s get rid of an elder board because that can be trouble. But back in 2012, when you were beginning to write about a lot of this stuff, I’m guessing that there weren’t a lot of people that wanted to hear your message because Mark Driscoll was huge then. He was, you know, started Acts 29 Network, his church was becoming this huge model. In our backyard, James McDonald, who I was told from people who knew the two of them, that James was like the big brother and Mark was like the little brother and the two of them together, were just absolutely toxic. But when you started speaking about it, my understanding, you spoke at a conference up in Seattle, and you I think this was like 2014, you connected with some Mars Hill leaders and had lunch with them. I’m very curious to hear what they had to say and what that lunch was like.

LANCE FORD  12:34

Yeah, well, that was a real surprise, to say the least because some of the background friends that run in the same circles and everything and I think I shared with you that I had a long, ongoing relationship with Darrin Patrick, when Darrin first came to St. Louis.

JULIE ROYS  12:49

And Darrin was vice president of Acts 29.

LANCE FORD  12:53

Yeah. So I had seen just tons of things for years. And I’m like, somebody needs to write on this. Now, let me tell you too, by the way, Julie, go tried to sell a book like that back in 2012 to a publisher, you know? So I think it’s, I think my agent was ready to quit, you know. And one publisher that I had been published by before said, Hey, Lance, this is great. This is true. The pastors don’t want to read this. 

JULIE ROYS  13:20

It’s not going to sell. 

LANCE FORD  13:21

Yeah, exactly. It’s not going to sell. So, but anyway, it was published in 2012, by Beacon Hill. And so in 2014, which I kind of looked back at the dates. And this would have been about that conference I was at in Seattle speaking at was, I don’t know about four or five months before the complete meltdown of Mars Hill. So a guy comes up to me after one of my session said, Hey, Lance, my name is blank. Are you busy for lunch? And I’m like, No, you know, so could you have lunch with me? Me singular? So I said sure. So we, you know, we go down this street, and we go into this, this pizza place and I follow Him and we go to kind of on this back corridor, it sounds really shady. 

JULIE ROYS  14:12

They probably I mean, understanding the culture of Mars Hill, they didn’t want to be seen with you. That could have ramifications.

LANCE FORD  14:20

They didn’t want to be seen. So we go into this kind of, you know, back private little party room, or I don’t remember there were six or eight other guys there. That greeted me when I came in. I was like, What’s this? And so we sit down. Then the guy that invited me tells me who he is. And he says, blank. I’m one of the pastors at Mars Hill. I’ve been on staff is well over a decade. In fact, this guy’s been featured quite a bit in the Mars Hill podcast that CT’s just been doing. So he said, We’re all on staff at at Mars Hill. We’d been reading Unleader. Now it’s like, wow, whoa, so and so I was, you know, I’m thinking is this Like a mob? Am I getting knocked off here? You know, is this it’s this is just like Good Fellas, you know, we’re probably getting knocked off. So but anyway, they just they leaned into me literally, you know, physically and just said, Hey, you know, thank you for writing this. I mean, they nailed the intent of the book immediately because they said two things which was always in my mind when I was writing the book was they said it’s first of all, it’s let us know that we’re not crazy. And we’re not rebellious. You know, because you know, we didn’t even have the term gaslighting back then, but they’re constantly being gaslighted anytime they would bring anything up, you know. And so first of all, this lets us know, we’re not rebellious. And we’re not crazy. And second of all, it’s given us language. And it’s given us an opening of the scriptures to understand what has been going on around here. And so I had that lunch with them, you know, and then four months later, than boom, you know, the whole thing. And I’m not saying that I was part of it, but it was really interesting. But the thing that blessed me about it was that, I’m gonna tell you, Julie, I had Mark Driscoll and what he was doing, I had him in my mind a lot when I was writing it. But even at that, over the years, there was not a lot of focus on what you’re doing now. And and what I was trying to accomplish, that still was, a lot of times, people don’t want to hear this stuff. But now over the last, you know, 5,6,7 years, it’s changing, because, like you said, you said that there was a before we went on air, you said that there was a scandal a day, you know, and it’s like, you just always wonder who’s on deck, because there’s going to be another one. There’s somebody right now, it’s going to be the next big name that’s going down. And it’s just happening and happening and happening over and over.

JULIE ROYS  16:45

Well, we’ve recreated a lot of Mark Driscolls, or James McDonald’s, or, you know, Ravi Zacharias, whatever you want to put in there. We’ve created a model that I think now has given birth to I mean, you, you call it the leadership industrial complex. It’s funny, I often refer to the evangelical industrial complex, which Skye Giussani invented that term. So I have to give him credit. But yeah, I mean, we have an entire system that we call Christian that isn’t Christian. And you mentioned Darren Patrick, who, I guess you knew? during your time in St. Louis, and was even asked to be on his advisory board. So you saw him sort of in the early days. Again, Darren Patrick, if you don’t know who that is, he was a megachurch pastor, built the Journey Church from nothing to like five multisite church, as we mentioned, the Acts 29, Vice President and then had this huge implosion in 2016, when his own elders removed him for the same sort of issues that in 2014, Mark Driscoll was removed for, this bullying and just abuses of power. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they were both in Acts 29. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they both happen to be friends. It seems like we’re creating these kinds of leaders. So I’m curious, from you, who’s had the opportunity to kind of see someone like Darren develop in a tragic story where he committed suicide after he was re platformed. Just about a year ago. Super, super sad. But what did you see the impact was on him? I’m guessing when he started, and I could be wrong, but we’re, we’re all of these same. I mean, these things don’t happen overnight. But were a lot of these characteristics sort of fanned into flame, so to speak, by the leadership that he was seeing with Mark?

LANCE FORD  18:40

I don’t think there’s any question about it, Julie. I mean, the Darren that I had gotten to know, early on, he just was not that way. I mean, there was tons of humility, and we’d become friends shortly after he moved to St. Louis. Actually, before he moved to St. Louis, when he’s kind of scouting things out and and when he decided to plant he asked myself and a couple other pastors to just be his board of advisors for the first couple of years before they grew and developed and everything and, and would have elders. So I had this very close friendship and relationship with him and speaking into his life, but after the church started taking off, and then they moved into Acts 29. And then when Darren’s acclaim started rising, I started realizing I couldn’t even get a hold of Darren, if I would try to call him or email him. There was this constant changing of emails, changing of phone numbers, you had to go through assistance. And last time I talked to Darren was a couple of months before he killed himself. We had probably an hour phone call conversation, but I was then I was writing I was working on The Starfish and The Spirit. Just finishing it up literally getting ready to mail the manuscript in. And I asked him some questions basically, Darren, everything you went through everything that caused you to get fired. What have you learned from it? So he kind of he touched on it. He said, “Yeah, man, I was a jerk.” I was this and that. I said, So moving forward, what would you say to, you know, other young church planters? What are you saying to them? What were you? Yeah, don’t be a jerk. But it had nothing to do with the system. They hadn’t learned a thing, Julie. And I was just really like, you know, I mean, like, really? Bro, you don’t realize that it’s as Kingmaker that this whole system is a kingmaker. And he, he didn’t get it, man. He didn’t. He didn’t get it. Couldn’t see it. It’s just unbelievable. I was wrecked for a week after he died. I mean, because I was close to him, you know, and it’s just a tragedy. You know, it’s a complete tragedy. But I was mad. Julie, I was just angry at that system. Darren is culpable. And he’s had to lock eyes with the Lord and give an account for himself. But that system and Darren, there are other young church planters and pastors that have killed themselves too. I know of, of a handful. And I know there’s gonna be a lot more, because it creates this Kingmaker system that we’re not, we’re not built to carry that weight. No human is built to carry that type of weight. And it’s, it’s evil. Um, I just go as far to say, I think it’s demonic. A lot of times, it’s very anti Christ, in a lot of the ways in the means of it. And the biggest thing is that it usurps the authority and the place of Jesus Christ. And when you start getting into that territory, if you’re not getting into the demonic, I don’t know what you’re getting into. And it’s just too prevailing. So I loved Darren, and when I think about him, it just rips me. But I believe the system had a lot to do with it. But I would say this for pastors and leaders, you are still, even if you’re in a system, or you’ve been raised in a system, you’re reading the scriptures every day, you’re seeing what the Lord says, You’re accountable to respond to Jesus first. And if you choose not to that’s on you. So I can understand guys going into this stuff. On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of empathy for it. Because I still know it’s a choice. There’s something about that kind of power that we want, that touches something in the human. This is how I want to be heard. I want to be in charge. I want to be big man on campus. It’s not good. It’s part of our fallen nature, right?

JULIE ROYS  22:53

I mean, Saul actually didn’t want to be king, but the people want him to be king. But this whole kingship that we’ve built up that we want a king and we’ve installed kings, and it’s destroying the kings. I mean, Saul was destroyed. David did a lot better with it. 

LANCE FORD  23:08

He couldn’t handle it either, right? The man after God’s own heart couldn’t handle it. Right? You could go for years on just the destruction not just of the Darren Patrick’s and people like that, but of their families, the wives, the children that totally deconstruct their faith because of this type of thing. It’s it’s wretched, you know, and it’s very destructive to so many people. I think that’s one of the things that the Mars Hill podcast has brought out so much, especially the final one, the aftermath, it really tells some of the stories of the aftermath of what happened to so many of those families and just to think that he’s doubling down on it, you know, out in Arizona now, and then you have some very, and you’ve called them out several named pastors, that, you know, have just backed him up platformed him and I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a there’s a there’s a guy. He was a church planter, I’d known back from Dallas Fort Worth several years ago, went to San Francisco and he and his wife planted and he’s kind of grown a mega church out there. And I’m not kidding here. Just about five weeks ago, he had a healthy church leadership conference, it was called the healthy church leadership conference. Guess who the headliner of it was? Mark Driscoll! 

JULIE ROYS  24:24

Are we talking Larry Osborne?

LANCE FORD  24:26

No, no.

JULIE ROYS  24:27

No Larry Scott. He was having Mark come in, but he stopped the whole sticky sticky conference, right? I mean,  it was way way later than he should have because it was after I did a lot of reporting.

LANCE FORD  24:40

Larry Osborne should have known better than that. 

JULIE ROYS  24:42

And that’s the thing. We have still and people don’t like to hear this. But the reporting I’ve done is tip of the iceberg. We have created a system and there’s so many people’s livelihoods now tied to it. And it is going to take a very very long time for this to, for us to actually dismantle it, if we ever do. If we don’t dismantle it, we’re just going to have a false church.  And it will be a revelation kind of false church, and it will just decimate people. And there will be a very small remnant of believers left, if we continue on the path we’re on. 

LANCE FORD  25:20

I agree with you, Julie. 

JULIE ROYS  25:21

One of the things I thought that was interesting is that there’s an article and it’s an old article now, but it’s it was done by Ed Stetzer. It was seven top issues church planters face. And number four was systems, processes and cultures. And he had a quote from Darren Patrick in there. And this is what Darren said, largely because most pastors don’t know how to build systems, structures and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don’t build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development. When a pastor can’t build systems and structures that support ministry, the only people that are cared for or empowered to lead are those who are near the pastor, or those very close to the pastor. This limits the size of the church, to the size of the pastor. So again, we’ve got to like, get this team where you pastor these people, and then they pastor others, and then so on, and so on, and so on, I guess. But again, we’re talking about building a system where the pastor and actually recently I talked to a pastor, and the church is so large that he can’t pastor anymore. And so I guess I’m wondering, when we’ve built these structures that are so large, it seems like we do need processes in all these things. Is there a reason? I’ll just let you speak to this, like the whole thing with the mega church, you’re saying the church is a family. I mean, how many families are 7000? You know, how many families are 20,000? I mean, is, is there something just inherently wrong with having a mega church?

LANCE FORD  27:02

Well, I think the you know, one of the things is that, that it’s and I think that COVID, the pandemic kind of has forced this issue on alot of pastors and alot of leaders. Coming out of it now, you’re seeing some churches that are just kind of doubling down on what they were doing before. You know, as far as the infotainment and preacher-tainment and everything, there are others. And I have some friends that are megachurch pastors that have really reflected and are coming back and saying, this has opened my eyes to see that we weren’t even designed the way that the Lord would have had us designed and a lot of them are moving to more micro church type of, of structures and systems.

JULIE ROYS  27:45

And how do you do that when you’re a mega church? How do you move towards a micro church?

LANCE FORD  27:50

I think we’re gonna have to look back. I mean, I’m working with a lot of churches in this and we’re trying to help them you know, it goes really deep. But number one, the first thing has to do is that senior pastor, and these those other ‘executive leaders’. They have to take a whole look at their leadership system. First of all, they got to lay their crowns down, and they have to lay down their rank based titles and their rank based ways and move to more of an organic familial system. And that’s the language that you see throughout the New Testament. You see brother and sister. Why? Because these are your brothers and sisters. This is a family. And it’s interesting that you know that quote, from First Samuel, I think it’s eight when Israel’s asked for a king and the Lord says, Okay, give it to them. Yeah, but tell him what this kid’s gonna do to him. He’s gonna take your wives, he’s gonna take your sheep, he’s gonna take everything he’s got, because he says it and the Lord says his heart will be raised up above his brothers. And that’s the thing and that’s what happens is these positions, these rank based systems, that we’ve really created one roll and if you wanted to, you know, if you want to advocate for the fivefold ministry, Ephesians 4:11-12, Apostle, prophet, evangelist, Shepherd teacher, a lot of people call it APES now, but we still highlight one gift, we highlight that pastor, you know, it’s it’s, I think, Frank Viola, Frank Viola calls it sola Pastore, you know, is what’s happened. And so we have one man rule. And some groups like Acts 29, Driscoll, they would have this phrase of plurality of elders, with first or chief among equals, which is just a joke. I mean, it’s really it’s just right. It’s within it’s not it’s not a plurality, you know. Oh, except for first you know, now that’s, that’s a benevolent dictator is what that is. So we have to go back and we have to totally look at our rank based systems. We have to move into true mutual accountability that is 100% mutual accountability and that’s one of the big problems that happens. And you hear it Julie, you know when the Ravi Zacharias’ fall or when the Carl Lentz is or you know, all these that go down as we people start talking about, well, there needs to be accountability. But even like within Mars Hill, and you could hear it on the Mars Hill podcast, is Sutton Turner, who was the executive pastor.

JULIE ROYS  30:27

I love that title. executive pastor. 

LANCE FORD  30:29

Exactly. I mean, it sounds so servanty, doesn’t it? Think of these terms that we use these, I just call them Babylonian terms. But pagan.

JULIE ROYS  30:41

That’s interesting you say that, because somebody said to me recently, Julie, we’re living in Babylon. This is Babylon.

LANCE FORD  30:47

And we’re drawing from Babylon. We really are. We’re drawing from Babylon. We draw from their ways, and their means. So Sutton Turner, I mean, there was one, you know, point where they’re starting to Mark’s getting ‘out of hand’. And, and, and he said, Well, you know, we need to work on accountability. So let’s get some, and he named two or three suggestions of outside pastors that Mark would be accountable to. Of course Mark said, I’m not going to be accountable to anybody that has a church smaller than mine. You know, which, I mean, come on. So but but the thing about is that was the suggestion and that’s what happens so often in these in the systems. So let’s go back to that quote, that  quoted Darren Patrick, about systems and structures. But the systems of accountability that they put in these SEPA churches, it’s always accountable with someone that is, at ‘your level or above’, which levels are a problem in the first place, rather than a mutual accountability. And so they try to go outside the church and get some board of governance of people that don’t even live there that are not even part of the faith community and are never going to get reported the truth about what really is going on much less are they going to hold their buddy his feet to the fire because these guys are inviting one another to speak at their churches and at their conferences and there’s good ole buddy, good ole boy stuff going on. You’re not going to hold anybody accountable. No, you should be held accountable to your brothers. And we find out over and over and over in the New Testament all the one another’s, it’s mutual accountability, even church discipline, should be Brother to Brother, Sister to Sister. The church, the body can hold itself accountable. The systems are just really messed up.

JULIE ROYS  32:40

It’s interesting when you mentioned that whole I think they had a Board of Overseers that Mars Hill. Right now Stephen Furtick’s church, he has some you know, group of other mega church pastors who set his salary. So you can rest assured his salary is being set by other mega church pastors making ridiculous salaries too. But what you’re talking about is really creating a new culture. One that’s not this leadership culture, where you have the pastor/CEO that’s being exalted. And these corporate business principles, you know, really imported from the world, nothing to do with scripture, if anything, scripture turned those upside down into more of a servant hood culture. One of the things I thought so interesting about what you wrote is that the word servant or servanthood, I mean, that’s got really negative connotations to us, I doubt it was really more positive in the Greek culture to be a servant or a slave, which are the the terms that Jesus uses. But it’s like, we also aren’t looking to Jesus as our model. So how do we go from where we’re at right now? and how do we transform our cultures? because again, it’s a culture. A lot of people think, Oh, you know, just fire that bad, toxic leader at the top and it will be over and what they don’t realize is he has mentored he has discipled some people, there is some discipleship going on. It’s not discipleship of Jesus, it’s discipleship of leading like the toxic leader. So we have a bunch of mini toxic leaders throughout that system. And they’ve all been basically conditioned to act like their leader. So how, how do we do it? How do we go from a leadership culture to one that servanthood culture?

LANCE FORD  34:17

Yeah, and it is cultural, I could not agree with you any more that it is culture. You know, it’s like a greenhouse or like a Petri dish. And so, if you have a certain atmosphere its going to easily breed a certain type of seed or or plant and so, you know, I mentioned about the roles versus rank and that’s one of the things is that to change this culture is we have to review leadership rather than looking at it as being on top. We have to flatten the thing in the first place and realize that we are equals. In fact, I like to say it’s it’s circle leadership. Really we gather we gather in circles. But one of the role changes is that leaders have to start looking at their self as equippers instead of directors. And this goes back to Ephesians 4. It said apostle, prophet, evangelist, Shepherd and teacher are there to equip the saints to do the work of serving. And so you start changing your role from being a person who manages to a person who says, No, I’m here to help the people around me and make sure they’re resourced, make sure they’re equipped, make sure they’re prayed for, make sure they’re encouraged. It changes your role. It’s not my job to boss people or to manage people. And that’s one of the thing is management has invaded the church through these leadership systems in the last 30 or 35 years, and which basically, management systems treat people as if they’re not adults. And so you’ve got men or women that are able to have a mortgage, raise kids, grill steaks without burning the house down, shave their legs or their face without slitting their throat, get to work on time, you know, and do all these adulting type of things. But once they get in, let’s say they’re a church staff. Once they get in there, they’re not adults. I have to tell them, when to be where and what they can do and what they can’t do. And there’s usually only two adults on a lot of these churches teams. It’s the senior pastor and the executive pastor right? which is a whole other thing we could talk about for a couple hours, the whole executive pastor position that’s been invented over the last 20 or 25 years. Some people call it the ‘second chair’, and which is just a total mythological figment that is not biblical whatsoever. But those tandems have really come together over the last 20 years and reinforced and created even worse problems than we had before. 

JULIE ROYS  34:26

You talk about the Nicolaitan church in your book UnLeader. And I was fascinated by what the Greek word and I’m not even going to try to pronounce it. But I would love for you to explain that, as opposed to the word that we get lay, laity from, because I think that’s profound, what’s there. 

LANCE FORD  37:09

Well, if you think about the prefix “nyke” or “nycos”, which you know, and Nike shoes, for instance, it means victory. Laos, people. So the Nicolaitans it was victory over the people. And so there are a lot of scholars that believe that what that was referring to, was this hierarchical system that was invading the church, which really dominated people. It ended up giving way to the clergy/laity divide that is so strong, because early on when you study church history, you start seeing from Ignatius, Cyprian, others, they really did push a very strong hierarchical system early on. So it didn’t take long, within the first 125-200 years, even before Constantine, that there was a strong hierarchy starting to develop that was killing the priesthood of the believer. And then a lot of people you know, we want to give credit to Martin Luther for restoring the priesthood of the believer, but he only restored the priesthood of the believer as regarding sociology or salvation, He did not restore it. In fact, he was an anti advocate when it comes to restoring the priest of the believer ecclesiologically. So, you know, we’ve had all these reformers and everything. And it’s interesting, because like an Acts 29 group, they I mean, the young, restless reformed. So many of these guys, and they are guys, had just fed on the language of the reformers, which is very strong about one-man hierarchal rule. And it very well could be, you know, the sin of the Nicolaitans, which the Lord said, I hate it.

JULIE ROYS  38:50

Now, I’m sure the critic is thinking right now, this sounds great, right? This, this sounds very beautiful, we have more of an egalitarian type structure. And that would be wonderful to work within that structure. But practically speaking, and I’ve heard this a bunch, there is an aspect to church that it is a business, we have to raise money, and we have to pay people. And maybe that’s a whole other discussion of you know, that the profession of Pastor, the profession of being a staff member, and so forth. But for that, that person who’s saying, this isn’t practical to do it this way, speak to that critic, but also I you know, I’d love to have examples of people who have done it right. And change made that shift, and here’s something beautiful that’s come out of it.

LANCE FORD  39:37

The latest book, The Starfish and The Spirit, we really myself and Rob Wagner and Alan Hirsch, we really do get very practical and deal with those types of things in that book, but it takes a lot of work to change a culture, you know. And I’ve tried to be honest with leaders and say, You know, Jesus didn’t say it’s difficult to put new wine into an old wineskin. He said you can’t do it. That’s the hard thing is if it is completely hardened, and it’s become an old wineskin, I don’t know that you fully can change it over. A lot of the work that I’ve had in the last few years with churches that really, and leaders that they’re embracing this, have done very well in changing a lot of their systems and really changing the ethos of their church. But some of their best success has been them launching other churches and new churches that from the very get go from the very outset, are walking this way.

JULIE ROYS  40:37

Are you saying some of these churches just need to close? instead of I mean, because what I’m seeing is we’re putting a lot of energy into keeping some of these churches afloat. One of the one of the blessings, I think of Mars Hill was that it imploded. 

LANCE FORD  40:52

I’d agree with that. 

JULIE ROYS  40:54

Yeah. And then there were little churches that were able to be birthed out of it. But what I’m seeing is we’ve talked a lot about Willow Creek, they majorly centralized and fired a bunch of people, and they’re like, Hey, we’re gonna do this from, from the main church, that’s going to be a lot of the preaching center, and get rid of a lot of these campus pastors, or at least they weren’t functioning quite the same way. They’re still there. They still have campus pastors, although they’ve replaced a number of them. But do we just need to maybe just say, This isn’t working? Is it the courageous thing just to shut it down?

LANCE FORD  41:25

Well, that’s happening, that’s happening in a lot of cases. And so I have discussions quite frequently. And there have been cases where the churches are saying, we think our seasons done here. And in fact, I was just dealing with a church in New Orleans just a few weeks ago that that was the case. And they were just shutting it down. And they were going to basically give all the assets away to some new church planters that they felt like were going to do it in a different way. So I think radical, very courageous, but it’s very admirable, right? To see that because that’s stewardship is a stewardship issue, and just prolonging it and just keeping it going and keeping it going, because you can’t change it, because here’s the deal. We can never forget this right? that the people Israel, they they’re the ones that wanted the king. And and so there are people in certain churches that they do, they want somebody to run the show for them, entertain me every Sunday, preach to me, give me the music I want. Give me that, you know, Disney on Jesus church ministry for my kids right? You know, if me all this stuff, you know, they want that, you know, you can’t be a purveyor of religious goods and services, if there are not some consumers ready to partake. So it kind of goes hand in hand. You know, we we’ve made these kings, and there’s always another guy in line ready to take the crown and the scepter. Unfortunately, 

JULIE ROYS  42:57

Well, I’m glad you made that turn, because we’ve been kind of hard on leaders. And I think it’s deserved. I think it needs it’s a critique that needs to be embraced and needs to be discussed in the church. But let’s talk about the laity. Let’s talk about the rest of us, right? I almost feel like it’s basically we’re buying a concert. We buy it with our tithes, but we buy this show on Sunday. It makes us feel good, tells us about our best life now or how to fix our marriage or whatever. Shockingly, I come back from so many sermons, I’m like, what was the passage of scripture? I missed that? What was he even preaching on? Like, even if they tell you to open your Bibles, you open your Bibles, but you never use them. But do we want to grow up? Do we want to grow up? Or do we want to stay babies where somebody’s spoon feeding us and they cook the food for us? They prepare it and they put it right in our mouths?

LANCE FORD  43:52

Well, I love the way that you framed that because, you know, it was really interesting. It occurred to me a few years ago, Julie, that and you can think about certain churches, you’ve mentioned a couple of them. So I mean, let’s just say Elevation, Church of the Glades, I would say  Fellowship Church down in Grapevine, Texas,. These theatrical shows that they put on week after week after week, I mean, jumping the shark, right? and then jumping the shark jumped the shark. Cuz you got to do something better every week, right? to get them there. Well, basically what they are, is we have had children’s ministries and youth ministries that had been entertainment. You talked about earlier on and our visit here. And so now once these people become adults, they’re expecting the same thing. So a lot of these church services literally look like adult Youth Services. They are literally like circuses, and so we’ve not raised up from early on our children. that’s not been our aim. Our aim has been to present something they can’t get anywhere else, and to want more of it next week. But that becomes a big part of the problem too. Because what happens when somebody with more money and more backing moves into your city and pops up the next cool thing? That’s what Hillson has done all over the US and all over the world; not had any investment into a community and pop in with millions of dollars and a Ken and Barbie church planter couple, and boom, you got church. They’re planting worship services. They’re not planting disciples that evolve into churches. And so I’m sorry, I’m really, I’m really harping here, Julie.

JULIE ROYS  45:35

Well, but the problem is, if we don’t say something, and if we don’t speak out about this, it’ll just keep happening. And to me, there is a, there’s a hope in this. The hope is that whenever something’s falling apart, and and I think we are falling apart. I mean, the past world model is falling apart. I saw a George Barna survey that came out just like a week or two ago, where it said 38% of pastors say that they’re burned out, and they’ve considered quitting in the past year- 38%. I mean, think about that. What happens if 38% drop out? I mean, it’s seriously. But we’re at a point after COVID, I think after the polarized political system, where things are fracturing, and they’re beginning to crumble. But this is when you have an opportunity, like we do have things crumbling. And my hope is, I don’t think it’ll be longer than several years. I think it’ll be a decade or more for us to really come to grips with it for us to really say what we’ve built around the church and the structures of the church, that have nothing to do with what it really means to follow Jesus or the church, they need to come down. But isn’t there a hope, Lance, that that out of these ruins, something beautiful can be birthed?

LANCE FORD  46:54

There’s no question. And I know I sounded really dour in this in this conversation, but I am very hopeful because I know the stories of people I’m working with. Churches I’m working with, some of my friends that are on teams that I’m on. I’m ecstatic. I’m gonna jump out of my chair with excitement about the hope that I see. in some humble men and women that are saying, we have done it wrong, we repent of that. And that’s one of the things you know, is that Jesus, in that famous Matthew 20 passage, you know, when , I mean, Jesus is literally telling these guys, I am getting ready to die on the cross, you know, I’m getting ready to be assassinated. And it’s like, they’re like, oh, yeah, that’s gonna be tough. Hey, can I be the secretary of defense, you know, when you get set up? Can I be Vice President? you know, and, you know, Jesus stops this and and one of the things he says to them, he says, When you turn, when you turn and realize, you know, the Gentiles exercise dominion over one another, it will not be this way among you. But the first will be the least, and the greatest will be the servant. So, but it takes repentance. So that’s one of the things; this is not just a systematic change, oh, hey, that wouldn’t work and we need to change. No, we need to repent, we need to repent of taking the king’s crown, and taking the headship of Jesus, taking his place. He wants to be the head of his church. There’s one head pastor, there’s one lead pastor, senior pastor, that jobs already taken. It’s Jesus, right? He’s the chief Shepherd. That’s the only time you find that title anywhere in the Scriptures. And that position is already taken. So when we start realizing also, there’s more positions than pastors, there’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. And when you look at Ephesians 4, you see that we made that into a leadership text. It’s a body text, it’s a text about the body of Christ. So that means you may have Joanie Smith may be a second grade teacher, elementary teacher, but she may have an evangelistic gift upon her that’s just as legitimate and just as strong as the guy that setting up a tent, righ?. And on and on and on about all these gifts, and the Lord has put them into the body to go into the places that we live, work, play, hang out, and into the marketplaces. And it’s a beautiful thing. And when we start realizing that and that our job as leaders that are even vocational leaders, my job is to equip and to resource the Joanie’s. My job is to equip and resource these others and make sure that they have the tools in their hands, they have the the the encouragement and their prayer covering, etc, etc. It changes the roles of everybody on the team. And once again, the reason that so many pastors are quitting is because they’re inundated with trying to, you know, spin all these plates that they were never called to do in the first place. There’s more team members there. If we let them walk out their roles, we let them have authority, under the guise of mutual accountability, it’s a game changer. And it’s a lot more fun. It’s a lot more fruitful. And there’s so much more joy in the whole thing.

JULIE ROYS  50:08

Do you know one of the best places  where we found freedom to do ministry was in a Vineyard church? When we were in our 20s? Yeah, we were a part of a Vineyard, and my husband, who’s a school teacher, he led a bunch of his students to the Lord, before we knew it, we had like, basically, a youth ministry happening in our living room on the weekends. And they were staying there till like two in the morning. And we’re like, man, we got to find a place for these kids. And I just remember, the whole philosophy of ministry was trying to release us into doing ministry. So I remember talking to the pastors, because we happen to be my husband taught about 30 minutes away from where we actually lived. So a lot of these kids didn’t live right in our community and it turned out that Vineyard was planting a church up north where my husband was teaching, so we ended up ministering there. But I remember talking to the pastor at the time, and he said, force me to hire you. So in other words, start doing the ministry. And they they used to say, do ministry, allow people to do ministry and clean it up later. Like we try to clean it up and make it perfect before it happens. And that’s not how it happens. It happens organically as the spirit moves. You know, I mean, we’ve forgotten how unpredictable the spirit is that we don’t know where it’s coming from. And we don’t know where it’s going. But we better get in tune with it. And we better get our sails ready to catch it. And to me, that’s what we were doing. And the Lord blessed it. And it was a wonderful ministry, but it wasn’t controlled. And it was, it was us as laity. We eventually, you know, came on staff part time, which is always we always joked because we put so many hours in, especially between the two of us, but it was it was wonderful. And I’ve seen ministry happen like that a number of times. But it’s always been organic. And it hasn’t been top down. It hasn’t been the leader telling me the pastor saying, I’ve got a vision for you, and this is how we do it. In fact, every time I’ve seen that happen, and they give you the curriculum, and they say you have to do this, this and this. It is so dead and so lifeless, and so exhausting for everybody at the top. 

LANCE FORD  52:11

No question. 

JULIE ROYS  52:12

But when they empower you to do ministry, John Wimber, who was the founder of the Vineyard, and we’re not a part of Vineyard, haven’t been for many years. And I’m sure it’s changed a lot since we’ve been in it. But I loved what he said is he said, The great thing about the Kingdom of God is that everyone gets to play. Yeah.

LANCE FORD  52:30

Let me tell you why I know that, why I know that quote. I was a I was a Vineyard church planter. 

JULIE ROYS  52:35

Oh! I didn’t know that. 

LANCE FORD  52:38

That’s  why I was in St. Louis, we had planted a Vineyard church. But that was it. That was that everybody gets to play. And you know, and I know not to go to on a rabbit trail here, but I always love that story that Wimber told about after he’d been in church for quite a while, he walks up to the pastor, and says, when do we get to do the stuff? You know, when do we do the stuff? The pastor’s like, what stuff? Yeah, you know, healing people and casting out demons and feed the poor, you know, and doing all that? And the pastor like, well, we just study the stuff, we don’t do the stuff, we just study it.

JULIE ROYS  53:14

But that’s what’s so beautiful. And I think one of the beautiful things that John Wimber did, for those who don’t know his story, I mean, he came out of the music industry, and he didn’t know anything about Christianity. He didn’t even know what a bible was when he went to get one. He wanted to make sure he got the official one because he had heard about it, you know, but, but it’s such a funny story. But what’s so great about it is he comes to it with fresh eyes. And I’m like you, Lance, I grew up in the church. And, and I feel like, you know, we’re in this period of deconstruction, right? Everybody’s talking about deconstruction. And I find myself deconstructing to the point where I’m saying, what about my faith? and what about church in my experience of church? what about it is Jesus? What about it is Jesus and what about it is the things that we built up around Jesus? So I, you know, I write every day. I investigate in all these things about all all the corruption that’s going on, but I have to turn that lens back on myself and say, What have I done? You know, what part of me, why am I struggling? Because I am struggling, you know, I mean, we lost our church. There’s, you know, a sex abuse scandal there. And so, we’re in the midst of this, seeing a lot of ruins ourselves. And I’m thinking, this hurts and it hurts my relationship with Jesus, yet I’m sitting there saying, Jesus is still there. And I think, you know, one of the best things for me is to go back and just look at Jesus and just read the gospels again, and what a great time at Christmas to go back and read those gospels and get reacquainted with Jesus. Not all the things built up around him. But Jesus.

LANCE FORD  54:58

Yeah, I could not agree with you more. And that’s one of the things that when I’m working, coaching, training, consulting with churches, or whatever I say, look, one of the experiments I tried to do is say, okay, for a couple of weeks, I’m going to ask you to read the New Testament. I’m going to ask you to take a translation that you’re not used to, because that will kind of help your fresh eyes a little bit, do everything you can to consciously read it like you’ve never read it before. Read the New Testament, and then come back, and then look at what we’ve created under the guise of church and under the name of Jesus, and ask the questions, how did we get this from this book? and where do we go? And that’s a very difficult thing to do. I mean, it’s very difficult, especially for veterans like you and I had been around because all the all the answers and the definitions immediately spark in us when we’re reading the scriptures, so it’s very hard to read with, with fresh eyes. But we have to start doing this, and asking questions and saying, wait, has what we’ve created, and what are we doing, is it Jesus-y, right? I mean, is this real? Is this the Jesus stuff? And I think that that’s one of the things is this, what’s happened and so much of the abuse that’s happened via leadership is we have raised up the gifts of the Spirit above the fruit of the Spirit. And if the fruit of the Spirit is not the filter of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul clearly said, it’s a gong show, that’s all you’re putting on every week. Is a clanging gong, because you’re not giving people Jesus. You’re giving people yourself, you know, and I think, you know, one of the things that is dangerous there is I think that that very well could be what it means to take the name of the Lord in vein, is when you’re wearing his name, and you’re going around doing things in his name, that’s just not him. It’s just not of Him. And it’s not his ways. I think that you know, this kind of this Hebrews shaking everything that can be shaken so that things that can’t be shaken will remain, that we’ve seen over the last year and a half to COVID and other things? I think the Lord is I’m not saying the Lord sayin COVID. But I’m saying the Lord is working in it. And he’s even working in his church to bring about reformation. So I have a lot of hope in that. But we’ve got to listen what we got to hear what the spirits saying, 

JULIE ROYS  57:20

Well, amen. I just I second everything you just said. This has been a rich discussion. And Lance, I feel like, like I’ve gained a brother, I guess you’ve always been a brother. But it’s, it’s nice to get to know you. And I really appreciate your ministry and what you’re doing. So God bless you. And I just pray that that your message will increase and that more people will be willing to to catch it because it’s not your message, it’s God’s message.

LANCE FORD  57:44

I knew I was going to connect with you. I was looking forward to our visit. And I totally feel like I ever have a Sis now, and its good and look forward to getting to know you better. But Julie, I just gotta tell you, I had been a fan. I’ve been an advocate for a long time, because you’re doing hard, bold work. And you don’t win awards doing this stuff. You know, you don’t win popularity contests, you know. You don’t get invited to speak at the biggest conferences, doing the type of work that you and I are doing. So I just appreciate you so much and just pray the Lord’s continued blessing and protection over you in your life and your family.

JULIE ROYS  58:23

Well, thank you, Lance. And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to connect with me online, just go to Julieroys.com. I’d also like to mention that December is a big month for us where we typically raise about a quarter of our budget. And right now we have a $10,000 Matching Gift. So if you give now to support this podcast and our investigative reporting, your gift will be doubled. So please consider giving a year end gift to The Roys Report. To give just go to our website, JulieRoys.com,  and then click on the donate button. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcasts, Spotify or YouTube. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you have a great day and God bless.

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17 thoughts on “Are We Addicted to Leadership?”

  1. I can see both sides of this argument. John Maxwell says that leadership is merely influence. I wish that were true in our culture, but certainly, a goal to pursue. We can all certainly agree that in the church world and especially among pastors that there are too many leaders and not enough servants. In a day and time where there are little popes and hirelings in the pulpit, we need more servants. Perhaps we should take the words of Jesus literally and let those who lead serve? Or would that make too much sense?

    1. Let’s also steer clear of the ‘servant-leader’ oxymoron. Paul nowhere talks about doing ‘servant-leader’. No, we are all servants of one another. End of Story!

      If a pastor, elder, etc is not encouraging all to serve as they are led, they are not doing their job. Church is not a spectator sport.

      The pastor/minister/priest serves the gathered people. The Holy Spirit leads.

      The idea of leadership has reached a shrill ascendency with the world clamouring after heroes and fame, destroying organisations and economies along the hubristic way.

      Yet Henry Mintzberg has, as a management scholar, been railing against the cult or leadership in business for years. Look up his ‘Communityship’ – https://mintzberg.org/blog/communityship. All that needs to be said.

  2. Catherine D Lewis

    Oh my…I’m almost speechless…I feel like I have a brother and sister even though we may never meet. I’m a Professional Christian Counselor and work female victims of abuse and trauma in relationships and spiritual abuse in the church. I also have experienced deep pain and disappointment as a congregant in the last two churches my husband and I were members of and now we do not belong to a church. We are worshipping our Lord Jesus online and this hiatus from the institution and business of church has opened up space for my lament, sorrow and deep need for authentic community that worships Lord Jesus and includes me as a congregant instead of treating me like a child or devaluing me because I’m a woman.
    You two can take this collaborative effort “on the road”. You both put words to what I’ve been feeling and selectively expressing without others understanding what I’ve experienced.
    Thank you. Thank you both so much

    1. I’m very disturbed that you would be treated as you’ve described because of your sex. Clearly those who do this need to meditate on Gal 3:28.

    1. The last two podcasts have been more general as you dealt with leadership and secular conservatism. These have helped me gain a not only a greater understanding of these issues but also greater understanding of your heart and love for the church.

      Well done!

  3. Rhonda S Montgomery

    Rev. 2:6 clearly states what Christ thinks about those who Nikao (to conquer or subdue) the laos (a body of common people). The Ephesus church “hate(s) the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” The E.I.Complex is a form of Babylon but more specifically “harlot” Babylon, an entity unfaithful to its bridegroom, for the spiritually unfaithful are always depicted as prostitutes throughout scripture. Rev. 17-18 paints a perfect picture of the E.I.C. so visible today. This vivid description of harlot Babylon finishes with an admonition to the body of Christ, the ekklesia: “Come out of her my people lest you share in her sins and lest you receive her plagues for her sins are heaped up as high as heaven and God has remembered her crimes.” (Mounce Interlinear)

    The Ekklesia are leaving….in droves…every week, as Christ gathers his body of believers outside the camp.

  4. We tend to define ourselves across what we are for, and what we are against. In this podcast its participants did this so coherently, that they and others are rightly flagging what they jointly did, in terms of encountered brother and sister. In this they gave witness to, demonstrated, exemplified, manifested: what they are for.
    What they are jointly against, is significant, and was well addressed. But I think that what they jointly demonstrated what they are for, in that they won through to manifested faith-mediated brother and sister relation, put what they are against in the shade. In the latter aspect their joint thesis was the more powerfully delivered.

  5. What an encouragement this podcast was! We who have despaired over the state of the evangelical church rejoice to find like-minded souls who give voice to our distress, and who have the wisdom to discern what has gone wrong and what must be done for renewal. I just ordered Mr. Ford’s book “Unleader” and look forward to reading it. Should anyone have the time and interest, here’s a blog post where I delight to extol the “unleadership” of a godly father. http://paullundquist.blogspot.com/2020/02/followership.html

  6. Another good one!

    The ‘system’… king-makers & king-followers

    Don’t you think leaders who function in the king-makers system embrace a works-righteousness ethic? Leaders constantly assess themselves by the tasks they do to distinguish and exalt themselves apart from others. This is because works-righteousness can only appear successful by measures of self compared to another man. It includes a leader who uses his origin story, his life experiences, and successful church programs as a way to look better than others. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    The followers of such men silently crave the same confidence and work-reward ethic they see in these leaders. They follow him having concluded that he is the best example of someone who has done what it takes to be in God’s perfect will. They will sacrifice a genuine worship and love of God, their family, and career in order to be in the leadership circle with him and achieve his similar sense of purpose and self-made righteousness. And doing so, they legitimize those leaders only to further deceive and tempt others.

  7. It sounds as if you’ve only recently been introduced to the term “gaslighting”. If you haven’t seen the 1944 film Gaslight, it’s well worth taking the time to view.

  8. Excellent podcast. Listened to it twice. I just ordered Ford’s book “Unleader.” This is something that has concerned me for some time now, and it was refreshing to hear someone express so articulately what I was feeling and put it in a biblical context. It really helped to crystallize my thinking on the issue and provided me with a new resource. Thanks for this interview!

  9. Mark Woolfington

    This obsession with leadership (and I write as a Fuller Alum, like Lance Ford) is directly related to the “bigger is better” mindset that the church has bought into since at least the 1970’s. I look forward to reading Ford’s book.

  10. Found this podcast discussion as well as the previous Roy’s Report to be very stimulating and insightful.

    With humility, can I offer a challenge? A goodly number of times in this podcast, and previous ones, the podcasters have resorted to totalistic words (all, always, never, absolutely, type terms). As a clinical psychologist, and one who encourages accurate terms (many, often, seldom, it appears) I had negative reactions to this. Totalizing communications impairs credibility and polarizes.

    We want to speak truth with objectivity and accuracy. Thanks.
    Tim

  11. Good discussion and analysis.

    Hybels at Willow Creek depended on Peter Drucker who was one of the most influential thinkers on modern management at a corporation.

    Guess what… Leadership was an essential quality for managers according to Drucker.

    All this is fine when applying it to a corporation which sells toothpaste and diapers.

    But applying Hybels/Drucker’s thought to the church of Jesus Christ has been a total disaster.

    Also as pointed out, it is not just the leaders at churches, but also people who sit in the pew. People at churches now expect that churches now reflect a corporate persona.

    How to get out of this mess….

    – Eliminate the Executive Pastoral Role
    – Eliminate NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements)
    – Have the church join a denomination for proper oversight
    – Stop the corporate jargon
    – Get rid of the smoke machines, laser shows etc.
    – Stop showing pagan films at church to make some sort of point from scripture
    – Stop the sermons which really just entertain the crowd
    – Stop referring to the pulpit as a stage
    – Stop worrying about the Pastor’s “Legacy”
    – It is not the Pastors church, it is Jesus’s church
    – Stop talking about target marketing, branding, etc.
    – Stop making the kids , junior high and senior high groups in the church just a place where kids have fun
    – etc. etc.

    Will the evangelical church in the U.S. be able to get rid of the Willow Creek model….? … nope…
    too many people love it, but at the same time it is destroying the essence of the Church of Jesus Christ

    I saw the Pew research this week and the “Nones” are at 30% in America….

    In 20 years “Nones” will be at 50%

    in 40 years “Nones” will be at …….. ????

  12. Bruce Darlington

    There are only two kinds of Christian leaders in this world – those who are like Diotrephes and those who are like Demetrius (3 John).

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