Organizationally Top Heavy Church Admonishes Parishioner Austerity
In a podcast discussion centering around the issue of Baptist political involvement posted by the staff of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, one of the participants remarked that God might not be that interested in religious freedom in America because Christians live too comfortably in this nation and are not only reluctant to speak out as a result but even refrain from overseas missions trips. Mind you, the criticism might carry more weight if Berean Baptist Church was some rundown shack along a country highway or in the middle of some cornfield.
However, from its website, its programs and facilities remind one more of a religious Disney World or at least a Chuck-E-Cheese rather than a facility conducive to the kind of solemn austerity that one voice on its multi-pastor staff seems to be calling for. And that brings us to the first criticism.
From my own experience, the Baptist churches I have attended or am quite familiar with usually had a singular pastor on staff. Rarely was there even an assistant or associate pastor.
The most godly pastor I probably ever knew actually worked also as a full-time letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. However, Berean Baptist Church has around six pastors.
And it seems even this number is insufficient to cover how many pots this ecclesiastical organization seems to have its fingers in. For under their oversight, comes not only a board ten deacons but also an administrative council consisting of five directors.
If we are going to be hyper-Biblical how everyone else is to abandon their preconceptions about what constitutes the American way of life in favor of world missions to the pygmies, in what Scripture do we find the office specifically designated “Director”?
Yet in further addition, reporting to this top heavy managerial structure are a total of nine additional employees. After all, you probably need someone with coffee barista experience to serve up the muffins and cappachno in the church cafe.
Also troubling are a number of the questions on the application and renewal application to serve as deacon in this church. For example, the questionnaire asks potential deacons are they not only faithful to their wives in body but also in thought.
For starters, so long as these stirrings have not been taken beyond the level of thought, is this really the business of a church busybody? Who in their right mind is going to confess this sort of thing to someone else other than to Christ?
And while we are on the issue of Baptists that want to “out catholic” the Catholics in terms of legalistic works righteousness, even more disturbing is the question asking is the diaconial aspirant willing to resign if he no longer supports the vision of the church as articulated and interpreted by the senior pastor. How is this requirement any different in spirit than the Papalism this brand of Baptist is infamous for railing against?
Any deacon worthy of the office is loyal to God first, then the welfare of the church, and then perhaps lastly the pastor. Any church that requires this degree of loyalty to a mere human being has moved beyond the boundaries of sound religion into the worst characteristics of nepotistic bureaucracy.
There is nothing wrong with having nice things. However, it is wrong when those themselves living on pretty much what cannot be characterized as anything other but an easy street look down from their pulpit perch to enunciate why you ought not be enjoying what you have likely earned from a day's labor probably far more honest than any the one verbalizing such condemnation has likely toiled away at in a very long time.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.