Continuing on from my post from last night:
The point that I’m trying to make about relationships is that instead of focusing on strangers, this interaction between Christians could be based on real practical friendship, the normal way people choose friends. So you’ll never be expected to trust or submit to, someone that you don’t really know, or that you don’t really feel comfortable with. Also in churches, there can be a lot of second-hand trust – having to make yourself vulnerable to someone whose character you have not been able to assess for yourself, because your leader says that they are trustworthy – just like in the example of our female “prophet”.
If this seems impracticable thus far, how about this? I think that it would be very useful if individual churches established some kind of low key, low commitment, “easy come easy go” system, like a house fellowship, for instance, where potential members can come and discreetly check out the church for as long as they need to, before making the commitment to fully join the church. The aim is to assess the character of the would-be pastor, assess the beliefs demonstrated by the church in practice, assess the interaction between the existing members. Because it takes a few years to really get to know people’s characters, then there has to be the freedom for people to remain in such a system for a few years until they are confident of the character of their would-be pastor. I know that this suggestion would be unpopular among pastors because they are typically eager for the church to grow NOW and they want wouldbe members to quickly hurry up and make up their minds NOW! So most pastors will not feel as if they have the time to hang around while wouldbe members carefully check them out.
“Souls are dying and going to hell, Tosin! We don’t have time to sit around here talking!” (In Christian circles, any objections to suggestions always tend to be clothed in religious-sounding arguments)
However I feel that this would be a worthwhile investment. Just as with marriage, the hope is that by taking the time to carefully make an excellent choice, you have something that you can commit to for the long term. And (just as again, in marriage) it works both ways. It’s not just the case of the member evaluating the pastor, but also the pastor evaluating the member as a potential part of the core group of committed, passionate pray-ers
So I think, if you are a pastor, and you have a huge vision to reach the unsaved which you believe is from God and you are seeking others to partner with you to fulfil this vision, there are a few helpful things to think of:
1. When seeking “members”, what exactly are you looking for? Are you looking for people who are already Christians to partner with you in prayer and in reaching unsaved people?
2. Are you seeking ways to directly reach people who are not yet Christians?
If you are seeking existing Christians to partner with you, then, as I have said, I think that it is worthwhile taking time to insist on Christians of adequate Christian maturity who will be able to provide adequate support. If you are reaching beyond your existing group to enlist the support of Christians you do not already know very well, then I think it makes sense to provide a means for them to evaluate and assess your character for as long as necessary, so that they can eventually commit fully and wholeheartedly.