Too Many Christian Leaders Act Like Demagogues or Bullies
I received a postcard in the mail yesterday highlighting the upcoming PROCLAIM 16 conference, sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). The upcoming conference – slated for February of 2016 – aims to promote…something, in order to make an “impact” for Jesus.
From the website’s “about” page:
Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, is a four-day, jam-packed event that connects, equips, and edifies thousands of Christian communicators – from broadcasters to producers, writers to publishers, managers to pastors, artists to consultants. This is a ‘must attend’ event for Christian communicators. You will hear outstanding internationally known speakers and artists, have the opportunity to attend numerous networking events, and receive helpful industry insights.
There are a number of people attending and speaking at this event who raise my “concern” level because of who they are, what they teach, and what they’ve managed to achieve. There are also some speaking who have been associated with people who – for many – have lost their luster.
I guess my biggest problem with conferences like this is twofold:
- Should Jesus or some marketing company be leading your life?
- why is the emphasis always on “achieving”?
Christian leaders wind up pushing the average Christian to achieve, to become, to be successful. But in the end, that’s usually measured by the world’s standards. It has something to do with making money and/or advancing up the rungs of whatever corporate ladder you’re part of, or maybe moving onto something else that will allow you to achieve, become, and be successful. After all, it’s all for Jesus, isn’t it? If you’re not successful, it’s probably because you’re not really in tune with what Jesus is doing then. But there’s a way to turn that around.
Jon Acuff is one of the speakers at this upcoming NRB conference. His blog went viral several years ago and was noticed by financial guru Dave Ramsey (and who eventually hired him into what Acuff said was his “dream” job). Acuff ultimately and abruptly resigned from Ramsey’s organization after only several years there. Why? We still don’t know and before anyone says, “Hey, maybe you should mind your own business!” I would beg to differ. These are two Christian men, after all. Their testimony coupled with the way they comport themselves as leaders means something or should. What was it that drove Acuff away from Ramsey’s organization? What happened?
Some groups estimate Ramsey’s net worth to be close to $55 million. Yes, that’s million. He’s the guy who almost seems to enjoy bullying people (or at least, belittling them) into cutting up credit cards, going on an austere mode of living to be debt free and start working on increasing wealth. While he says we should not love money, the reality is that this is a guy who owns a small kingdom who is telling the rest of us not to love money.
But take a look at the books and articles Acuff writes. They’re about getting your dream job, punching fear in the face, quitting your boring job and going for your dream job, reinventing your work, so that your job is more exciting and empowering, etc. Why are people like Jon Acuff even sought after by Christians as speakers? There is clearly some misplaced goal-setting going on for far too many people within Christendom.
Does God have charge of your life? Do you submit yourself to Him and His will on a daily basis? Wouldn’t that mean that He has your job covered? Isn’t it more important to carry yourself as a Christian at all times, regardless of the job God has placed you within? Is it about the job (translation: YOU) or about spreading the gospel to the lost?
I don’t see that Acuff’s memes and thinking were what guided believers either in the Old or New Testaments. Yet Acuff (and Ramsey) has become an icon in today’s gilded age of Christendom. It seems to me that too many Christians have lost their way, if ever they had found it in the first place.
Then there’s Rick Warren, who is also speaking at this same conference. I know there are people (and even pastors) in the Southern Baptist Convention denomination who do not see Warren as anything but a guy who loves the Lord and wants people saved. Anything that speaks to the opposite is all just fodder and gossip used by the enemy to take him down, apparently. I beg to differ with their assessment of Warren, a prototype of Robert Schuller (who was Warren’s mentor).
But in general, whether it’s one of these guys or someone else within the larger pond of Christendom who has become very wealthy from their books, their sermons, their conventions, or their “holdings,” I have to wonder what that is all about? Why is there such a push by so many within evangelical circles to succeed and often, by worldly standards?
Success to many of these people is measured in numbers. Those numbers don’t necessarily represent how many people are saved either. The numbers represent how many people are buying into the thing they are selling. Much of what I see out there that passes for Christian doctrine or theology is pabulum at best and heresy at worst.
After receiving the postcard from NRB in the mail, I said to my wife that years ago, I thought Paul’s words warning of a coming great apostasy meant that we would see tons of people leaving churches, joining with the world. Instead, what we’re actually seeing is a blending of Christianity with the world, while people remain in churches.
Too many churches and Christian organizations are changing, adapting themselves to the culture that surrounds it and becoming far more worldly. These churches and parachurch organizations run themselves like Fortune 500 companies for goodness sakes! Is that what Jesus started? What a joke!
So as not to be left behind, these companies and people who run them act like chameleons, changing themselves to appear more “benevolent,” more “loving,” more “accessible” to the average unchurched person, while dragging professing Christians into the mix as well. In doing so, they have adopted the world’s strategies and instead of seeking God and His will, which is to be supernaturally accomplished in and through the heart and life of each believer, they rely on worldly marketing and self-promotion, trying the latest marketing fad to attract people and keep them actively involved in whatever they’re trying to sell.
The NRB is a group that reaches out to Christian broadcasters. Do you think for a moment that they’re going to have some guy like Andrew Murray or A. W. Tozer speak to a crowd to tell them that they need to get on their knees and learn to focus on what God is doing? That wouldn’t be prudent and would actually be very anti-climactic.
Instead, they want to “empower” broadcasters, actors, and media types to ostensibly help them “impact” the world for Jesus. In the end though, who even knows what that means to them?
Here are the stated benefits of attending the NRB conference:
- Network with thousands of communication professionals
- Check out new resources
- Enhance your media skills
- Find new clients
- Advance your organizational goals
- Recharge your spiritual batteries
- Increase visibility and gain publicity
Do you see anything about the gospel there? But not to worry, because they close with this statement:
The bottom line is that when you leave Proclaim 16, you will be energized, empowered, and more effective in reaching the lost for Christ.
Not sure how though. I don’t see that at all in the benefits listed but maybe it’s implicit or acquired via osmosis? Sure, okay.
Christian leaders in very expensive suits, with “best-selling” after their names, and large expense accounts heading up their “non-profit,” have power, money and name recognition. Too often, it is verboten to critique or criticize these individuals because they have too many (virulent) followers without discernment who will come after you with all manner of evocative in-your-face finger jabbing and acrimony.
Since when do our leaders become inviolate when they reach a certain level? Too many of them are trying to walk a fine line or have long ago crossed over it.
While it’s easy to accuse people of simply being jealous or harboring some misplaced grudge, the truth of the matter is that if it’s not Al Mohler, Russell Moore, or Billy Graham telling us average lowly Christians that it’s wrong to criticize pastors, leaders, and other people who stand above us while looking down at us warn of repercussions of critiquing “godly” men and women.
It apparently destroys the unity of Christ. What unity?!
Not saying things and smiling benignly is not one of the Ten Commandments when dealing with error, a lack of discernment, or an overt union with the world and its principles! These so-called leaders need to actually read the New Testament.
But what if at least some of these leaders are walking away from unity in Christ in the first place? What if they are creating situations that pit people against people with their terrible theology that divides rather than unites? What if the people who actually see that problem and speak out against it would rather not say anything but are compelled to do so because the error is so egregious?
But we have some leaders and Christian organizations who have resorted to “arbitration” between Christians, which actually does more to protect the employer than the employee. But it’s all done in the name of Matthew 18:15-22. This is a grab for power by Christian leaders and institutions who don’t want to be seen as “bad” in the eyes of the public.
It seems to me that there are too many leaders within Christendom who feel they have “made it” and because of that, like to think of themselves as being above critique. If they act like brow-beating bullies in meetings, well, they must have a great reason, right? If they are arrogant and even mean-spirited in the way they relate to their employees of the average person who attends their seminars, they are so because they are simply trying to teach us, not because they want to harm our psyche, right?
In reality, too many leaders are doing more harm to the flock and the holy Name of Jesus today than any good at all. No one is above being critiqued and I don’t care how expensive their suits are either. If it was good enough for Paul in his day while he lived (Acts 17), it should be good enough for all leaders within Christendom today. Some of these people need to be called out.
There is too much hobnobbing with the world, marketing of the gospel as the world markets toys, acting like the world, treating employees like the world, belittling like the world. People who cry about being criticized probably need more of it. They act as though they are losing grip on their little kingdoms. Maybe they are and maybe that’s the problem.
While they might be able to honestly say that they don’t “love” money, it’s very possible they love what money has created for them: their kingdoms.
What foolishness. What absolute garbage. Lord, save us from ourselves.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: al mohler, dave ramsey, jon acuff, national religious broadcasters, NRB, sbc.