Who Runs Your Church?

This is a letter I would send to someone who thinks they or their family should run their church:

Who runs your church? And if that sounds like a trick question it isn’t. Think about it…is it the elders? The Pastor? The Deacons? The Board? Your family? The Family that has been there the longest? The family with their name on the Activity Center? The Guy who bought the pews?

I know of churches that have imploded because of who wanted to control the church.

A church here in South Carolina has all but folded because of the issue of control. There is a contingency in this particular church that wants to run everything, and I mean with an Iron Fist, to the point that they feel they should have more control than the pastor and the official board.

So as usual, that got me to thinking…who runs the church?

I know some churches have elders that give leadership and the pastor comes and goes every few years. In some churches the pastor more or less runs the church and he appoints the elders, deacons and board. Some churches have the congregation vote on the pastor and deacons and some churches have the pastor voted in by the board only; and then the pastor appoints his deacons or elders.

I tend to agree with churches that keep the congregation from voting –find where people were voted on in the Bible.

But none of that has anything to do with who runs the church. Those methods are simply how the leadership is established and maintained. The answer to who runs your church is –drum roll please– Jesus Christ. Or at least that is who SHOULD run your church.

Does that sound like an oversimplification? It should.

What makes you think it is your church anyway? Even if you did buy the pews, the chandelier, the pulpit and paid to have the carpet installed. Even if your great-great-great granddaddy was the founding member. Even if your name is on the sign out front. Tell me what that has to do with running the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. What on God’s green earth possessed you to think that you are in control of the kingdom of God?

To the best of my recollection, –I’m 35 so my memory hasn’t left quite yet– isn’t the church called the Bride of Christ? Isn’t that what He is coming back for when He returns? And isn’t your church part of being that bride? Aren’t we as believers all part of the same church? And isn’t that God’s church? Didn’t he say that He would build His church? In Matthew did He not say, “and upon this rock I will build my church?

So keep your grubby little manipulative hands off of it. Stop hindering the work Jesus is doing on earth. Stop causing visitors to not want to come. Stop forming cliques —(def) cliques: a group of people who are friendly with each other but exclude others.

The church is having enough problems with pastors leaving the pulpit because of infidelity and embezzlement. Don’t add to it by being controlling, manipulative, spiteful and overbearing.

I also seem to recall Jesus had his harshest criticism for those who were supposed to be leaders in the church. He railed against those who should have known better but acted holier-than-thou and treated people like crap.

Now I don’t expect this letter to change you. This letter is strictly a warning that God and His church are moving forward with or without you. If you choose to keep thinking you are in charge then I feel sorry for you, because you are about to get left behind. Believers are starting to take a stand against the sins in the church, of which you are a big part. How can we expect to be a blessing to those who don’t know Christ if we can’t even get along with our fellow believers?

Listen, I’m on your side. I understand the tradition of it all. My family has been a big part of the history of my church –heck, the denomination here in Columbia, SC. But that does not give you or I the right to inflict our way on the leadership of the church.

So stop stabbing the pastor in the back. Stop spreading rumors about he pastor’s wife. Stop telling members to withhold their support. Stop, Stop, Stop.

Do yourself and the church a favor. Take a sabbatical. Go on vacation — for months. Give it a rest. And while you are on sabbatical from church, reevaluate what you are doing. Think about the consequences of your sin, and yes it is a sin. We all have sins. Whether it is pornography, being a drunk, or spreading rumors about the pastor to get him removed, sin is sin.

There is probably much you can offer the church. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve seen things the younger generations haven’t. You’ve weathered the storms. Take that knowledge, mix it with a heaping of humility and love and share it with others. It is time to stop being a cranky old fart and actually begin building others up instead of tearing them down.


Someone who loves you. But more importantly, someone who love Jesus and doesn’t want to see His church destroyed from the inside out.

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