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Small Groups - The Abdication of Pastoral Responsibility

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you the old time radio program The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr. Matthew McMahon.

For some reason, contemporary pseudo pastors seem to believe that their main objective is to win souls and grow their church. They win souls by offering an Arminian Gospel, and they grow their church by incorporating those won over into some kind of assimilation into a corporate-like environment. No doubt it works well. Most companies operate by taking new employees, and assimilating them into the structure of the company with specific tasks that will aid the overall streamlined environment. These companies thrive as communication is passed down from the CEO to various departments, that in turn, oversee those departments to the company’s greater good. This is, again, much like many contemporary churches whose pastors abdicate their pastoral responsibility for integration through a man-centered incorporation to their corporate empire. How else can they afford their new Lexus or beachfront summer condo. Numbers means revenue, and revenue means success.

What’s the secret? Small groups. As corporations have departments, contemporary churches have small groups.

What are small groups? Besides being a blatant disregard for the pastoral duties of overseeing the flock personally, and manageably, small groups give mega congregations the ability to divide up (as if Christ desires His church to be divided) and to learn watered down lessons about self-esteem, church ministries, or whatever doctrines a contemporary church deems suitable to “fellowship with the saints.” Leaders of small groups are called “Small Group Champions” or “Lay Leaders”. Such people are chosen by the pastor, or as Christianity Today writer Fred Smith states, that small group champions are “identified” as “promising people” who can “take on” the guidance of a small group. Smith lists 10 requirements for church ceos to identify small group champions, and 4 conclusions that would read well in any article in the business section of the Wall Street Journal or Fast Company Magazine, like: What will this person do to be liked, or can the CEO Pastor provide a suitable environment for this person to succeed? Of course, there was no mention to glorify God, or ability to take on pastoral duties. No, the contemporary church cares little for those things.

In an article called “Confession of a Small-Group Leader” Joe Higginbotham said of himself that his group was successful because “The nonchurchy, spontaneous atmosphere of our group was its most basic appeal.”

The Good News of South Florida Newspaper said that “small groups need to be managed”. Of course they do, much like any corporate department.

This gives rise to the new phenomena of the “church without walls”. Small Groups extending into the world where people, in a non-churchy environment, managed by champion leaders, and chosen on the basis as to whether they will be liked or not, has a trendy kick to it. Realize listener that the feel good church of the future must continue to create trendy applications in order for you, the non-denominational, unchurched attendee feels a sense of belonging that is indiscriminatory. Don’t you feel good about that?

But, as false shepherds continue to propagate such irreverent anti-biblical concepts to abdicate themselves from actually caring for the flock as a flock in expository biblical teaching, and pastoral duties, more and more mainline denominations are picking up bad habits of such abdication because they see that their churches are losing ground to that which is more trendy and popular. In allowing others to take over pastoral responsibility, churches are growing, so they think, erroneously, that it can’t be all bad if growth is inevitable. Growth, they think, in numbers, gives them the ability for their church to do good. But what does that have to do with the glory of Jesus Christ?

True pastors, however, hold to the Bible. The Bible is quite plain on this point. Pastors are not to abandon their flock, or give up their responsibility to preaching and teaching the truth to them.

Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

Now, many pseudo pastors will whine and wail on this note, and hold steadfast to the corporate principle that their churches are thriving because small group departments are succeeding. But if that’s the case, the best thing that small groups actually do is demonstrate that the pseudo pastor who is leading that church is no pastor at all. The success of the small group over their leadership and preaching of the flock themselves is a true sign that demonstrates their inadequacy to take a leadership role and equip the flock, and further demonstrates that their abdication is a sign that they should have never been behind the pulpit in the first place.

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.