Sunday, September 3, 2017

Armchair Pastors

A new NFL regular season begins in a few days. Armchair quarterbacks are already discussing how their favorite teams and players should do things differently this year. These self-appointed experts seem to think they know more about football than the coaches. 

Sadly, this sort of thing happens in the Body of Christ. “Armchair pastors” criticize ministers for doing or not doing certain things. This past week, the Internet has been (pardon the pun) flooded with unChristlike remarks regarding a well-known pastor in Houston, Texas. Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church receives enough flak from heresy hunters who disapprove of his ministry. Now Joel has been lambasted for his response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Lakewood Church was criticized for not having services last weekend. Their website stated that was done due to “…concern for the safety of our members.” Many streets in Houston were impassible by flood waters. In the Upper Midwest where I’ve lived most of my life, churches of various sizes often cancel services because of inclement weather. 

Joel was also criticized for his church not immediately offering shelter to hurricane victims. Watchdogs make judgments without knowing all the facts and logistics involved. Lakewood Church’s website stated early on they are working with Samaritan’s Purse to provide disaster relief. Until a public announcement was made offering shelter, the church itself experienced flooding despite false reports stating otherwise. There are shelters in Houston better equipped to take in displaced residents. As Joel pointed out in a Fox News interview, “When the big shelter filled up, people started coming here [Lakewood].”

On a related note, I’ve seen a photo gone viral showing the Lakewood Church sanctuary with the caption: “Instead of building mega-churches, how about building mega-homeless shelters?” How about these critics put their money where their mouths are? Few of them probably do anything to help homeless people get off the streets. Romans 2:1 says,“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

Among those in the fivefold ministry, pastors in particular have a time-consuming job that pays very little if their congregations don’t give in the offering like they should. Immature Christians expect pastors to be at their beck and call whenever they have a problem. This includes individuals who aren’t even committed members of a church. Then they often get offended if their problem isn’t addressed right away. 

If you don’t agree with how a pastor conducts his ministry, pray for that brother (or sister). If you believe he’s not doing something that should be done in his church, maybe God is calling you to help him out in that area. To put it bluntly, armchair pastors should either put up or shut up.

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” - Romans 14:4

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