These issues are presented in semi-random order…
- In order to pay the considerable bills of the church—including rent/mortgage payments, staff salaries, and much more—a pastor must keep the congregation happy. Why? He needs the people to keep coming every Sunday with their tithes and offerings to deposit into the offering plate as it passes by. If they don’t, they’ll be robbing God. And there won’t be money to pay the mortgage and the staff. (Did the churches in the New Testament have to deal with this?)
- Keeping the folks coming to church involves more than simply good preaching on Sundays to make the people feeling blessed, loved, and encouraged. In order to compete with the many other churches in town, the Sunday morning experience must be as pleasant as possible—with good parking facilities, beaming greeters at the doors, a good nursery, programs for toddlers & pre-school children, for children from K through 2nd grade, children 3rd grade through 5th grade, pre-teens, teens, college age, young adults & singles, young married couples, etc., etc., all the way up to the “Two Again” group and the Golden Agers. And the restrooms must be kept clean…and much more, according to once-popular “Church Growth” books. (Did the churches in the New Testament have to deal with such concerns?)
- A pastor must also work or deal with disagreeable board members or elders—who in some churches have the authority to fire him. (God forbid.)
- A pastor must also endure being gored by some sheep in his flock—sheep which for some strange reason have grown sharp horns. (Or perhaps they were goats all along?)
- A pastor must comfort his dear wife who usually feels the pain and criticism from the sheep far more than he does.
- A pastor might be anxious about the new kid on the block—some young charismatic pastor preaching an excitingly “new and fresh” message drawing big crowds on Sunday. (God forbid if some naïve sheep from his own flock wander there. He might have to go buy the latest bestseller to learn about the new Christian fad/teaching.)
- His secret and unspoken hope is that every new family which joins his church will stay from cradle ‘til grave—guaranteeing a perpetually growing (and giving) congregation.
- All the while, a pastor must feel that he is doing God’s will and God’s work. After all, Jesus commanded Peter three times to feed his lambs. When a pastor works hard to please the folks, the sheep will naturally keep coming and eventually fill his sanctuary to overflowing. Then he may have to raise funds from the sheep and borrow more money from the bank to build a bigger sanctuary. (Praise God!)
- When a pastor has paid his dues and finally succeeds in having one of the larger churches in town, he will naturally feel good. (“Well done, good and faithful servant!”) He will also enjoy generous financial compensation from the board for his faithful ministry to the flock.
…And the pastor will essentially have established his own little kingdom on earth centered almost exclusively within the physical walls of his church facility where week after week he gathered with his sheep. He will have essentially neglected the imaginably vast need of the gospel outside and beyond his church building where billions upon billions of precious souls have never heard the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ even once.
Churches in the New Testament did not have to deal with keeping the people happy and coming every Sunday so that bills for maintaining the church facility could be paid. Instead, believers in the New Testament gathered in homes of believers to worship the Lord and be taught. There were no static physical structures like church buildings which would become easy targets for stoning or burning whether by furious Jewish zealots, Greek pagans or Roman idol-worshipers incensed by the invasion of the foreign religion known as “the Way.”
Could godly pastors in America and the West be unwitting victims of the teaching and practices of the Nicolaitans—something which Jesus hates?