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How Do We Call Out False Teachers?

Several months ago the Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne put out a song that was bound to be controversial. The song is provocatively titled “Fal$e Teacher$” with the dollar signs intentionally placed. Check out the song here.

Now some of the controversy has been pointed out here with posts by one of the questioned ministries here along with a response by Shai Linne here. This an important topic to consider, particularly as we continue into an age defined by social media driven instant news and content. What does it look like to call out false teachers in the church? In an age of increasing sentimentality, celebrity worship, and political correctness, how does one identify and offer corrective to false teachers?

As we are reminded a in the New Testament, false teachers have and will abound among the churches which comprise the Body of Christ (Matthew 24:24; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:13-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; etc.) At multiple points, the writers of the NT personally identify and call out false teachers who are operating within the ministries of various churches to whom they are writing (1 Timothy 1:20; 3 John 9; etc.) So not only are the NT writers familiar with false teachers, they also present a pattern of identifying false teachers and warning their flocks about them.

One of the things that seems apparent from the NT dealings with false teachers is that when each of the writers speaks specifically to a context which they are familiar. They have an established relationship with the people and the churches they are writing to and upon this relationship each, it appears, feels they have an obligation to warn of and ward off false teachers. Later first century documents (cf. The Didache) lay out specific tests for false teachers.

In our contemporary age we should be honest and note that there are false teachers within the Church. Any significant organization will always have to deal with people who attempt to come in and disrupt its core beliefs and practices. Also, the Church is a place where good teaching is given platforms. There is power in being a good teacher.

Our task, as church leaders, must be to mind the flocks and be on the alert for those who seek to divide and destroy. As leaders in the church we need to be mindful of destructive doctrines, false teachings, immoral practices, and other challenges to a complete understanding of biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

We also must be aware that sometimes of the times where quick tongued pastors and leaders have condemned a ministry and person who had only good intentions or out of a hidden motivation.

One of the goals for us all should be to pursue understanding before indictment. We should go out of our way to engage with and hear from various ministries and individuals. Making a good faith effort to confront, biblically, might also allow us to have a better understanding of where a person or ministry is coming from and how we can encourage them or understand them.

When false teaching persists, church leaders have an obligation to call out such teaching (after private confrontation has been attempted) and protect those within our ministry.

False teaching will always persist in God honoring churches.

As ministry leaders we must also recognize that there comes a time and place to appropriately engage and warn of such teachers. The purity of the Gospel and the power of its proclamation alone are worth this work.

One of the great challenges that confronts us arises from the work of the Satan who knows that the opposite of biblical Christianity is not humanistic atheism (though that does pose a unique challenge.) The challenge for us to today, as it was in the first century and since then, has been that the opposite of biblical Christianity is pagan idolatry that looks like Christianity but is, in fact, not related Christianity at all.

 

The Golden Calves of false teaching proliferate too much in our lands and times. We must be on guard.

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Staying the Course

One of the most dangerous moments for some church staffs is that moment when the senior pastor, or senior leaders, arrive back from a ministry conference discussing a new model or after they’ve read the latest influential book by “Insert Mega-Pastor Name” and decide that shifting (yet again usually) to this new strategic model will bring together the necessary parts for the church, or ministry, to reach a new level of success. Having sat in a tenuous conference room of nervous staff members while the senior pastor held up a book and proclaimed it was the new ministry map…after having heard the same speech only 16 months prior…it is a difficult time for any ministry.

In the revised introduction to his updated text Competitive Strategy, Michael Porter writes this: 

Finally, in recent years there have been some who argue that firms should not choose competitive positions at all but concentrate on, variously, staying flexible, incorporating new ideas, or building up critical resources or core competencies that are portrayed as independent of competitive position. I respectfully disagree. Staying flexible in strategic terms renders competitive advantage almost unobtainable. Jumping from strategy to strategy makes it impossible to be good at implementing any of them. Continuous incorporation of new ideas is important to maintaining operational effectiveness. (xv-xvi)

Having a strategic vision allows organizations to accomplish goals and expand their effectiveness. For those of us in church and ministry environments, we are reminded of Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” However, Ephesians 4:14 also seems apropos here.

One of the overwhelmingly keys to success in any organization, religious or secular, is a clearly articulated, clearly defined, and clearly navigated strategic vision. Strategic vision should be like the  pin in a map at the end of a route, marking the accomplishment of a task or journey. If we take this idea of our organizations being on a journey to that successfulness, then we also realize it is deeply hurtful to the organization if the captain keeps changing course when the wind blows or decides to dry dock at every port to install a fancy new keel. It won’t work.

A well articulated and coherent strategy for an organization needs time to work and time to be worked. Like we’ve mentioned before on this blog, when organizations fail to accomplish their goals it is often (at a ratio of 85%) a failure in keeping with a strategy and not a failure of the strategy.

Leaders in secular, as well as religious, organizations have a difficult task ahead of them. As leaders we must carefully develop and arrive at a plan for the journey of our organization. Then we must relentlessly stick to that plan (providing for some minor tweeks to the internal processes) and see it through to accomplish our vision.

Staying the course in allowing vision to happen is a key part of seeing our success journey find the pin at the end of the map. So stick to it! Stay the course!

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Jul 2013
POSTED BY Garet
POSTED IN

Leadership

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Professional Conferences and Networking

Recently I attended my annual Metro Young Adult Minister’s Conference in Colorado Springs. This conference is for, generally, larger churches who have specific ministers or programs to reach young adults. There are a number of similar professional meetings like this for various levels of church programming (children’s, executive pastors, worship, communications, etc.) One of the purposes of these conferences allows ministers who are reaching a similar age segment, and who normally might not cross paths, to have some focused time of interaction, networking, and professional development.

Metro ConferenceDuring these meetings there is usually a focused topic with a presenter and then some follow up. For our meeting we have David Simpson from the Table Group (Patrick Lencioni’s Consulting Firm) come and lead a conversation about some of the central tenants of The Advantage and how we can apply them within our ministry framework. Simpson provided an excellent interaction where he took the business focused concepts within the text, drew them into a ministry environment, and drilled down on their implementation. Obviously for all the people in the room we each had different takeaways. Overall, I thought the conversation and topic went very well.

More to the point I am attempting to make here: these kinds of conferences are important for ministers (or ministry leaders) to attend. The best parts of the conferences are often the interaction and networking which occur off-site or outside the normal venues. For my involvement in these groups, this is really one of the two things I look forward to the most (the main topic being the other.)

Another point of the conference is how it allows ministers and ministry leaders to spend focused time discussing, thinking, and hearing about approaches and models for their specific ministry area. Too often we all have a tendency to sit in our offices, read a cloistered group of influencers, and attempt to do ministry in a specific paradigm. It isn’t that effective ministry can exist in this environment, but how much better is to hear where others are coming from. Usually, by the end of the meeting I’ll have a dozen or so ideas that I can take back to my church and think about implementing.

While I am a bit skeptical to the value of unguided groupthink, these kinds of events plunge into a different means of talking as a group to grow ourselves and ministries. It is also vital to be reminded that there are plenty of others out there doing ministry, like me, in a similar context who also face similar challenges. (Because ministry is challenging.)

Therefore, I would certainly recommend for anyone to seek out or attend these kinds of events. Perhaps even engaging with a regional group of leaders in a semi-annual or annual dialogue that will aid you as a leader.

Sharpening our skill set is hard to do in a vacuum. However, when you are placed alongside already sharp leaders there is a natural honing process that will leave you more ready and refreshed to confront the ins and outs of regular ministry life.

So, what kind of events like this do you participate in? How are you finding dialogue and networking with other similar minded leaders in your area?

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