It seems to me some men in our fundamental circles have a bit of a Napoleonic complex, not so much as a reaction to their stature but as a reaction to their position. Their position is small, but they make much of it. Not in a good sense, but in the sense that my little insignificant position and influence in the world is really much greater than anyone supposes. Some men who have tiny ministries act like they are King Henry VIII; imagine the voice of Dr. Smith form Lost in Space the T.V. show – “You, peon, shall not speak to us until we have directly addressed yourself. Do not you know that we are so-very-important that we must refer to ourself in the third person?” Just like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, these brave braggarts shrivel when the pressure comes to bear.
If we are honest with our selves we will admit the diminutive nature of most our ministries. Many men, when confronted with the obvious fact of their small size, make excuses for shrunken services, minute memberships, and piddling participation. These men puff out their tiny chests and begin to make excuses for this stark reality. “People just aren’t interested in the things of God anymore,” they’ll say. Is that why here in Houston, and all around the country, there are several multiple-campus churches that measure their attendance in the tens of thousands every Sunday. Oh, those are evil contemporary churches, they are as wicked as the Devil.
I have changed my thinking about contemporary churches. (Yeah boys, sharpen your rabid fangs) I do not think they are wicked. I do not intend to go to one, but logic tells me they are not wicked. Bad methodology? Perhaps, but when was what we traditionalists consider right considered wrong by those who would have considered us modernists? Remember the time when a sound system meant you were a compromisor? Remember when the piano was a tool of the Devil because every bar had one? Remember when a guitar was a symbol of Rock -n- Roll and we didn’t use them? Remember when the choir had to have robes or they were immodest? Remember when anything but a black bible was modernism? Remember when a lapel mic. meant you had sold out the cause of Christ for modern convenience? Remember when using the term pot-luck was wrong because everyone knows luck is just short for Lucifer? Remember when if you didn’t have a Scofield bible you were not a serious Christian? And don’t even get me started on Sunday School and how that was going to ruin the church.
I know some readers of this blog are salivating because they now have proof that I am a liberal, but be advised, I do not think the Contemporary Church is the way to go. I am against much of what goes on in them, not just because it is pandering to an A.D.D. culture, but because it removes the reverence from the church service. Too much of the contemporary movement is centered around replacing true spirituality with an emotional feeling. Too much emotion not enough instruction.
These Contemporary Churches have one thing down pat. They love people. We, in Fundamentalism, used to love people but now we are too busy fighting with each other to love anyone. Your church is small because, you my friend, are small-minded. You are so angry at everyone that your mind is too clouded to care about them personally. What good does it do to get in the pulpit and rail against pants on women? Yep, we’re back to the pants again. You are complaining about pants on women, bragging that your wife and daughter have never worn them, meanwhile some lady in your church is struggling with a real problem, for which she has no answers. She came to church today looking for some help with a burden and all she got was a lecture about what should be covering her legs??? Hey little preacher, you better pay attention to Hebrews 13:17, get over the a. portion of the verse and realize that you are going to give an account to God. God is not as concerned with what a woman uses to cover her legs as He is with what is in her heart and soul. Little preacher man, you say you believe in the Holy Spirit and the power of God, why don’t you search that King James bible and find something to preach on from there, instead of your own dear preferences. Why not find a way to love people and help people, instead of tearing people down?
Our ministries are small, because we are small, but we think our power is big. The power we believe we have is not derived from the Holy Spirit, but it is derived by virtue of a title. Doctor, Evangelist, Pastor, Missionary, the coveted titles of the fundamental world. Oh yeah, and the wonderful title Editor. Every jack-leg with a newsletter wishes to be called editor. No, this is not a shot at Dr. Smith, who is THE EDITOR! After much personal contact with Dr. Smith I can say with certainty a few things about him, and I will. Dr.
Smith is the type of man who commands respect. Not because of his position but because of his demeanor and his accomplishments; he is the real deal. Is he the smartest man in fundamentalism?Maybe, maybe not. It does not matter. Is he the greatest preacher in fundamentalism? Maybe, maybe not. It does not matter. Dr. Smith is a gentleman in every sense of the word. He is a man with a large ministry and some real power, the problem with Dr. Smith is that he does not act like he has either. He is a humble gracious man who is interested in helping folks not hurting, not playing politics, not stabbing people in the back, not wielding what power he does have, for personal gain. Shelton Smith has been a pastor and is now serving in an evangelist type ministry, plus editing the Sword of the Lord, the premier fundamental paper, but he is just a regular Joe. He never acts like King Henry VIII or VII or VI or even Henry V. He acts like Shelton Smith, a plain man.
Too many of us are power tripping. We have that title, we have that attitude, we have that je ne sais, but not an ounce of quoi. We are full of ourselves and thus, we are unable to be filled. People leave our churches and it is never ever our fault; it is all their fault. Church members get mad at the preacher, but it is never the preachers fault; those members are not right with God. Visitors do not come back, the stinking liberals. We are not called to preach the tent meeting; that dude is leaning. We didn’t receive the Fantastic Fundamentalist award from our college; that place is going down the tubes.
Preachers are like that monkey I once heard about. The monkey was given a jar with a banana in it. He reached in and closed his fist around the banana, you’ve heard this story. When he tried to pull his hand out it would not come, his fist was too big to fit through the jar. We usually hear this story associated with greed, but let me give you the banana’s perspective. You see, the monkey became mad, the banana would not do what the monkey wanted so he began to squeeze. The banana still refused to conform to the monkey’s wishes, so the monkey squeezed harder. The banana finally became mush and oozed out of the jar. The nasty little monkey licked up every smashed morsel, but that banana was not as good as it could have been. Preachers do the same thing to their ministries. Instead of letting the ministry come, we reach in our greedy little hands and squeeze till it becomes mush, then we lick up every little morsel until it is gone. Hey preacher, what is your hand gripping today?