Steve Bremner

Author, Podcaster & Writing Coach

Occupy The Church — Put An End To The Pastoral Performance TreadmillThis post is a 5 min read

USA Occupy Wall Street 008This is a continuation of some of the recent posts of mine on this blog, following the theme of “Occupy The Church“. When I first wrote on four reasons why we’re on a crash course towards change, I had a very long blog post in the end.  I decided to whittle it down quite a lot, and just stretch out some of the points into their own posts, and expand my thoughts.   So now this will follow a series for a while until I’m done ranting about this subject.

It should first be noted, that I am not saying the parallels between Wall Street and the Church are exactly the same. I do not view Wall St as the cause of all the problems the OWS protestors have.  Likewise, I don’t say ‘The Church” is the cause of mine or anybody else’s problems.  Many of us just think there are problems with church.  Many will leave before they protest or, mostly likely, even attend and speak up in a board meeting.   The solution isn’t through reforming per se,  through some political-esque process, the Church.  But rather through doing away with it and starting to do the things Jesus and the apostles said.   As I’ve said a few times, we need to destroy all that, start from scratch and with a Biblical foundation.  Occupy the Church!

Not All Prosperity Teachers Are Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

As a missionary to South America, I know what it is to be living on the dependence that the support and donations of others will keep being there each month.  Frankly, living on support sucks for all sorts of reasons.  I reached a point over a year ago where I felt tired, as a young man, of living this way.  God has opened several doors and skilled me with a few insights for supporting myself more and more with my hands and a keyboard.

I’ll give you a hint though; it’s not through manipulation and persuading people to sow into my ministry “so they can be blessed with a 100-fold return on their seed money”.  It’s certainly not from protesting that those who ‘have’ should just give it to me.  But from working.

I’m not trashing how many of the OWS protestors are using expensive iPhones and laptop computers to broadcast to the world what they’re doing.  I’m actually referring to pastors.  Yes, I know many pastors and some individuals think and believe if you’re in full time ministry, you’re doing one or the other, not both.  However, that’s not true.  At all.1

So that brings us to the insidious religious spirit-inspired problem that faces many a pastor caught up in the current way ‘church’ as we know it has perpetuated:  if a pastor has a church building that needs paying off, or needs to feed his family, or pay off student loans from seminary or whatever else have you, it’s possible to fall in this rut in order to get people to walk in the door. You wind up succumbing to the need to perform.  For example, if he and his staff (if he has one) need a minimum amount of money in order to pay the bills, what often inevitably happens are things like the need for a minimum amount of people in attendance consistently tithing and giving generously.  Then, one is faced with the temptation–or very real need–to somehow obtain those followers or church members.

What does one do to obtain those?  Well, it’s a lot easier to catch flies with honey than it is using vinegar, so the Gospel message that’s preached inevitably becomes pragmatic and palatable.  A God on a cross who wants you to forsake every thing so you be owned by Him?  That doesn’t attract nearly as much as “you can live however you want and have Jesus as the cherry on the pie”.

How Big Is Your Church’s Stadium?

A lot of teachings on tithing are rooted in motivation to pay the bills but are not necessarily what the Bible teaches.  Most of what is taught regarding tithing and giving money in the Church has NO BASIS in the Old or New Testaments, but is founded in the very reality I’m describing.  What has been communicated as a success is how large of a church fellowship you pastor, or how many copies of your book you’ve sold or how much your salary is and other things like this.  Ergo, the number of people filling the pews inevitably equals amounts of dollars, and you need a minimum of both if you’re to survive, right?

For me this was further illustrated a number of months ago when I attended a very Americanized “attraction” oriented English speaking church service here in Lima, Peru.  While there, I purchased a book by an author I’d heard wonderful things about, which obviously bears mentioning here in this context.  The only problem was that all the people in the book who had been profiled were mega church leaders who had thousands of members.  The subtle implication was that “successful” means having the same results as these men.

Regarding one of the preachers profiled in the book, if you go to his website, you are shown a picture taken from behind him on a platform with thousands of people in an audience in front of him.  It undoubtedly was taken as he was preaching.  However, it reminded me of pictures taken of rock stars performing their concerts to the same sized audiences.  This image, and many like it when you go to modern church leaders/preachers’ websites communicate the idea that that this is what success is.2

Destroy all that and start from scratch and with a Biblical foundation.  Preach the pure Word of the Gospel of truth,  and not some watered down kind that has been created in order to sell DVDs and pay for conference speakers’ hotel rooms.  Rise up Body of Christ into your calling instead of the vast majority being pew warmers who pay for this silliness to keep being perpetuated.

Occupy the Church!

  1. For more on that, read the post Why It’s Not Bi-Vocational vs. Full Time by Doug Paul. []
  2. For more on that, read What Are You Building With?. []

About Steve Bremner

Steve the coffee drinker is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who after raising up disciples to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos for many years, now helps people bring their own ideas and messages to life through books and audio productions. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his books and audiobooks. Note: this post may have contained affiliate links of which the author receives a small commission if you purchase something recommended in the post.