Storytellers and vision casters

January 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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There seems to be a growing contrast between the preachers/pastors of today and those that came before. The days of the expositional pastor seem to be fading into the bygone days and those men are becoming a dying breed. In their place have arisen men that doing things very differently. This is not to say that there are no pastors who preach expositionally, because there are still a few around. This is also not to say that all of the men of the days of old were sound biblical preachers. They weren’t. There were false teachers and heretics then as there are now, but there seems to be an explosion of men (and women…ugh) who feel that they are no longer bound to certain tenets or standards.

One category of men like this I would classify as storytellers. These men are pastors or preachers and many of them are nice men. This isn’t about how nice they are though. What we’re talking about is their position and the responsibilities of that position. As a pastor or teacher, a man or woman(teacher only..) is held to a higher standard than the Christian “layman”. They are responsible for feeding, caring for, protecting, and maturing the sheep that God has entrusted to them. The words they speak, as well as the ones they don’t, are vitally important. Storytellers put a lot of work into sharing anecdotes, jokes, or tear-jerking stories that are emotional and can move people. Many are charismatic and can connect with people very easily. They weave tales that bring laughter in one moment and thoughtful reflection in the next. Some will stand and read a passage of scripture before their sermon. They will then completely abandon the text and its context in favor of more comfortable fare that will elicit a response.

And therein lies the goal of the storyteller. It is not about holding to the standard of truth found in scripture. It is about drawing a response from the listener. It is to draw people to the altar or to “making a decision” or “becoming part of God’s plan” or whatever other nonsense they can come up with to reach the desired goal. Oftentimes, it is coated in Christianese and may even have the façade of theological teaching or authoritative doxology. It is built upon the skeleton of conjecture and subjectivity with a dash of humility.  In the end though, the scriptures are not given the respect they deserve. This is for a very simple reason. If the scriptures were preached in context, line by line, and with the reverence they deserve, it might make people uncomfortable. It might even make some people leave the church because they were upset. It might cause others to consider the doctrines and traditions that they hold to and bring them to a place where they have to decide whether they will continue on with what they believe, or if they will conform to the truth found in scripture. None of these things can happen in the storyteller’s perfect world. Anything that might disrupt the hypnotic weave of the story is off limits.

As bad as this may sound, it’s not what aggravates me the most. There is another “pastor” that is worse than the storyteller. This is the visioncaster. This is a recent addition to the various titles that heretical, unorthodox, and liberal men have given themselves. It dovetails with a couple different false teachings to create a gigantic mess. The visioncaster can only be a (senior) pastor of a church. It is the job of the visioncaster to “seek God” on behalf of the church to find out what God’s will is for this church and how they are to go about fulfilling that will. Once the pastor receives the vision, he (or she) then “casts” the vision over the church. He shares it with his “leadership team” and then charges them to share it with their groups, and so on until the vision goes out to all of the members. This vision is to be the driving factor in what the church does for the rest of its existence and is unassailable.

Before I go on, I feel that it is important to point out that because the pastor is getting this vision directly from God, it is new revelation that is not found in the Bible. This means that the pastor is now a prophet along the lines of Isaiah or Ezekiel. This means that everything that he (or she…ugh) does should be scrutinized to the highest possible degree and compared to scripture to see if it hold true. Nevermind that scripture says that no one is to add to or take away from what has already been written…

Having said this, there are other things that need to be considered as well. First, because the pastor has received direct revelation from God and this vision has been cast over the church, there is no arguing or disagreement with the vision allowed. Not only that, but the authority, direction, and decisions of the pastor are also unquestionable because he has received revelation directly from God and therefore is infallible in his leading of the church. I find this ironic seeing as how the Pope is only infallible when he’s ex cathedra….

Because the pastor has been placed into this exalted position by himself…uh…by God, he also becomes the “spiritual covering” for the church. This is another unscriptural idea (seeing a pattern starting to form here?) where the pastor is the head of the church (I thought Christ was the head?). All those under him are subject to him. This then branches down to other leaders as well. Those under leadership are expected to obey their leader without question. If they obey and something goes wrong, then they will be spared any trouble or the wrath of God because they were obedient and the leader will be punished by God for “misdirecting” them. However, if the person disobeys (because they disagree or don’t feel comfortable about it), they have stepped out of their “spiritual covering” and will receive the full brunt of God’s wrath. This is the same all the way up to the pastor. I’m not sure if this is supposed to help paint the pastor as some sort of hero who is protecting his church or not but it’s not a scriptural idea.

This is bad enough, but it’s not the worst part. The worst part in all of this is the fact that, because of all of the unscriptural things going on, the truth will not be preached. It can’t be preached. If it were to be preached, the members of the church might start to question the vision, the pastor, the church, and they might leave to find a theologically sound church where God can actually be glorified. To keep the people (and their money) from leaving, the “pastors” are left to cherry pick verses and twist them together to form a self-centered, watery message than only serves to further the agenda of the pastor. Don’t get me wrong, just because the message has no substance doesn’t mean that the pastor/audience can’t get whipped up into a frenzy.

Going hand in hand with this is the vague and ambiguous statements that have to be made concerning God’s will and what He “has in store” for the members. It is up to the members to determine what God wants them to do by listening to His “still small voice” in which He gives them instruction on where they are supposed to minister, how much they are supposed to give, and what part they are to play in the vision of the church. This isn’t as difficult for the pastor as it sounds. Because everything revolves around the “vision”, when the vague preaching statements are made about what God’s plan is for them, they are automatically led to think about the vision and work that into God’s personal plan. And because nothing is preached with scriptural support and authority, everything is left open to interpretation. This means that scripture can be allegorized, people can place themselves in verses they could never truly fit in, and all of this is “legit” because of the post-modern, new age hermeneutic being used to interpret the Word of God.

There are many today who fit into one of these two roles. I’ve gone to three churches and the pastors fit one of these two roles. Add to that the two churches I’ve visited, and nothing changes (only one was a vision caster though). We don’t need vision casters, story tellers, charlatans, or other false teachers. What we need are men who know the truth, preach the truth, and live the truth the way that God spoke the truth. Until we see this happen, there will remain many who have been deceived into believing many false doctrines and ideas….including the idea that they are saved….God forgive us for our treatment of You and Your Word….

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