Why church leaders/founders are not comfortable releasing disciples with spiritual gift
• ‘Fear Of Competition Is The Reason Why Church Leaders Refuse To Release Pastors With Spiritual Gift’
The Bible says there is a time for everything. And in the secular world, it is said that no condition is permanent, as whatever has a beginning must also have an end. This is supposed to apply in every area of life, including the church, when a ‘disciple’ serving under a superior, is expected to be set free, after some years. This, however, is not always the case, as some superiors simply refuse to let go of their mentees, even when it is obvious the latter are ripe enough to stand and establish their own. So, at what point should a general overseer/general superintendent or senior pastor, as the case may be, let go of a junior minister? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘Church Leaders Fail To See Themselves As Mentors’
(Pastor Ezekiel Joel, General Overseer, Full Salvation Believers’ Assembly Int’l, Nnewi, Anambra State)
ACTUALLY, for General Overseers, Presiding Bishops, or General Superintendent who have the mind of Christ, there shouldn’t be any problem releasing any Pastor desiring to be released to go expand the frontiers of the kingdom of God. But, when such leaders see the church as their personal estate or fiefdom, and they fail to see themselves as mentors, who are expected to groom disciples for Christ, and not for themselves, it becomes a big issue.
Sadly, an average African church founder believes everything begins and ends with him or her. If a GO, or GS sees himself/herself differently, it becomes easy to know that God can use him to groom and release, when the time comes, any pastor who has served under him, to go and be used by God to extend or expand the frontiers of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Among other things, however, there could be fear of competition, or the possibility of being outdone by the pastors seeking to be released, even though there’s no ground for such a fear. There are no records of Joshua outshining Moses. If a GO or GS sees the bigger picture of God’s Kingdom, he is expected to be ready to train not only those who will succeed him, but those he should later release, at God’s bidding, for the purpose of expanding the work of the gospel in other parts of the city, state, or nation, as no single pastor or church can singlehandedly fulfil the Great Commission, or cover the land with the gospel. It is, however, unfortunate that some pastors seeking to be released do not go about it in a godly and Biblical way.
And, although many church “founders” do not like the idea of pastors leaving, and as such, there’s no provision for the right way to disengage. But like Moses, it is necessary to officially seek to be released either by written communication or by verbal information to be released, and that without “sheep stealing.” It is unconscionable and grossly reprehensible to jump out of the church, and “cart away” some members, while trying to “answer the call.” Breaking another person’s house and taking the blocks to build your own will bring a curse from which such people may never recover. If and when pastors that have served faithfully and creditably seek to be released to go and serve God in a new church ministry, they should be joyfully released, prayed for, and assisted to find their feet. To hold back and refuse to let go, or engage in a war of attrition or battle for supremacy flies in the face of God’s word. There’s so much to learn from Apostle Paul here.
‘They Should Also Realise That Those Under Them Have Gifts, Calling’
(Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John, Church growth consultant)
As someone that has received grace to consult, share and interact with many church leaders over the past two decades, I am aware this is a big issue in many denominations and independent churches. There is always the tension of releasing members to go out and fulfil the ministries that the Lord has given to them. And this is why there are so much breakaway and back doors losses in our churches. Ultimately, it is the Lord that sends people to churches and when He does, He sends three kinds of people: (a) The Passersby, (b) The Pillars and (c) The Trainees. Most church leaders focus their attention on the passersby, who just came for miracles and blessings and then go away.
The pillars are those that come to support the ministry’s vision, while the Trainees are those who come, get saved but God will call and send them out for greater kingdom work. Unfortunately, the Trainees are the ones that church leaders find very difficult to release into their ministries. It must be clearly stated that the basic work of a pastor, bishop, apostle or church leader is to disciple the people that get truly saved, and train them to do the work of the ministry, according to Ephesians 4:10-14. Every local church must have those whom the Lord is calling into ministry, and we must gladly release them into their callings, without prejudices, biases and church politics. Any church leader that doesn’t produce a pastor that moves out to pastor another church after 10 years of ministry leads a biblically unhealthy church!
Once a member or minister has discovered his or her calling, inform the church leadership about it and there is assurance from the Lord that He is the one calling the person, there should be no further delay in releasing him or her to what God has destined to do through the person. That was what happened in Acts 13:1-4. Paul was released with prayers and impartation into the work that the Holy Spirit has called him into.
Failure to do that will result in divine displeasure and grave consequences. The idea of keeping people in church forever or putting stumbling blocks in their way by refusing to acknowledge their callings or ministry will always lead a church down, and not up.
‘Somebody With Spiritual Gift Cannot Rise Up Overnight To Found A Church’
(The Most Rev. (Dr.) Michael Olusina Fape, Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos/Diocesan Bishop of Remo, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Sagamu, Ogun State)
The practice of an individual moving out from a Christian ministry to found or establish another ministry is a recurrent decimal in the new generation churches. This is not the case with orthodox churches that have clear-cut constitutional provisions for establishing any new Church. For instance, in the Anglican Church, somebody cannot rise up overnight to found a church and make himself owner of the same, either by reason of internal crisis or inherent spiritual gifts.
The Church of God is gifted with many members, who belong to the Body of Christ; and these various gifts are for the perfection of Christians in their onward journey to the heavenly Canaan Land (Ephesians 4:11-12). While the gifted members of a particular church are supposed to use their various gifts for the overall growth of the local assembly, sometimes an exceptionally gifted member might be overpowered by the spirit of pride in such a way that he would pull out of the mother Church to establish his own ministry.
In such case, the purported gift could ignite in an individual the spirit of insubordination, so much so that it would be difficult to respect the authorities of the mother church. The next thing is to go and establish a new church, where he becomes the general overseer or the presiding pastor. This is simply a desire for power! While it is not so in all cases, but then the fact remains that many of the new generation churches are products of the desire of their founders to gain freedom from the domineering spirit of their one-time spiritual father or leader. However, in spite of the above, there are ministries, which exist today with the blessing of the one time spiritual leaders. In other words, before an individual moves out of an old Church to found a new assembly, he would have discussed and secured the approval of the authorities of his former church.
It is also important to know that God is the owner of His Church; and the gates of hell cannot destroy it. Therefore, regardless of how a new Church emerges, if the founder has been genuinely called by God to start a new ministry, no Senior Pastor could stand on his way from achieving God’s purpose (Philippians 1:15-18).
‘Releasing People To Start A New Work Is Not Always Problematic’
(Dr. Cosmas Ilechukwu, General Overseer, Charismatic Renewal Ministries)
GOD uses people of His choice and preparation. He calls people and assigns them roles, depending on His plans and gifting for each person. The scripture informs us that the calling and the gift of God are irrevocable. This implies that the persons so gifted and called must give expression to such in some form of service to God with an established Christian organisation or a new one. No senior Pastor, Bishop or General Overseer can change that, as none of them can call people into the ministry of preaching the gospel. The prerogative to do that resides with God and Him alone. Against this backdrop, nobody in his right senses would attempt to stop any person from answering the call of God. It is not generally true that releasing people who felt called by God to start a new work is always problematic, unless in cases, where the right procedures are not followed. I have seen several occasions, where releasing somebody to pursue a different vision that is ordained by God, was celebrated with joy and funfare.
Every General Overseer knows that some people God has used him to raise in ministry may one day want to leave for one reason or the other. In situations, where the relationship between the overseer and the disciple wishing to leave is good, the release of the departing minister is usually a happy moment. The problem usually arises, when the person, who wants to leave, begins to sow bad seeds of disaffection in the minds of some members of the church against the overseer with the intention of taking them along, as he leaves. The opposite is also possible, when the overseer, in a bid to stop members of the church from following the minister that is leaving, launches a campaign of calumny against him. Either of these attitudes is wrong and bespeaks of lack of faith in God and His call.
I would suggest that the proper way to leave should involve the following: The disciple, who received a call, should respectfully inform his overseer about what he feels God is leading him to do and allow the overseer enough time to think and pray about it, and come up with a decision. Secondly, the person leaving must try as much as possible not to draw members from the church he is leaving to start his own. He should trust God, Who called him to bring people to him. The overseer, if he is a man of God indeed, should realise that the departing person had made some contributions in his ministry and as such, should provide both prayer and material support to the new minister. God hates strife in His family.
‘It’s In God’s Interest If Leaving Is Free Of Acrimony’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive,
General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of The Anointing, Warri, Delta State)
ACTS 13:2-3 says: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” This is the Biblical pattern. It is not the case of ‘an apprentice who has finished serving his master getting his freedom to be on his own.’ Perhaps this notion is why we have all the problems associated with releasing brethren, who have an evident call to pioneer a new work. There is no biblical instruction or pattern that says everyone must be a pioneer.
What we see today on the part of the young ones is a situation, where people are ambitious, impatient and carnal. On the part of the elders, we have also noticed some measure of oppression, selfishness and ungodliness. These two have culminated in the present scenario, where no one wants to serve.
I will give you two personal examples. Last year, we released a couple to pioneer their own work. We did this in public with prayers and fasting for them, as well as helping them secure a place of worship and placing them on a monthly stipend. This is not because they have served long enough. The husband was with us for less than seven years and there are pastors that have been with us for nearly 20 years. This was a matter of calling. The other example is of a young man, who got converted in our ministry and whom I baptised several years ago. He also had his ministerial training with us, but I knew he had character challenges and needed to work under close monitoring. But as soon as he started praying for people and getting some results, he began to urge me to release him. Of course, I refused and he left with his band of miracle seekers. Today, he has continued to make ship wreck of the ministry with so many scandals and failed marriages.
It is in the interest of the young minister, if he listens to his spiritual father, especially if there is a track record of godliness and mentorship. It is also in the interest of the father, if his son succeeds. It is in the interest of the body of Christ, if this process is free from any trace of bitterness and acrimony.
‘A Leader Is A Servant, Bridge For Others To Grow’
(Dr. Sunday Adelaja, Senior Pastor, Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God, Kiev, Ukraine)
FIRST of all, I would like to say in my theology and the way I see the Bible, it is my conviction that the kingdom of God is not a kingdom of slaves, but a kingdom of Sons and a kingdom of kings. This means that I don’t believe in a church having the senior pastor or general overseer as the superstar or mini-god in his own empire, while his members are simply subjects or slaves.
My understanding is a little bit different. According to Exodus 19:6, the Bible tells us that everybody in this kingdom is a king and if anyone discovers his kingship a little bit earlier, that does not mean he is superior to others, who are simply on the way to discovering their own calling.
A senior pastor, therefore, is somebody who has been graced and privileged by God to have discovered his promised land, his gifting and platform, earlier than others. What then is his role and calling? His role and calling is now to help other heirs of the kingdom, who are potential kings, to grow up and take up their position of kingship.
In essence, what that means is that the primary duty of a senior pastor is to use all his God given resources, as well as all the resources he has gained through the people he has gathered, to elevate these same people. A leader, therefore, is a servant, a ladder, a bridge through whom the followers could attain the place of calling and lordship that God intended for them.
The right way for leaders to look at their assistants, ministers and members, is to see them as people who are temporarily being trained, until they feel ready to go and conquer their own Promised Land. These people are not slaves; neither are they servants to the senior man. The Spirit of God is in everybody, including the junior ministers and members. Once the junior minister or member senses in his spirit that God is leading him to go and having done an independent work, that will be the best time for him or her to be released, because they have been free all along anyway. The only exception could be if the senior pastor has a strong reason to prove to the younger minster that he is not ready to be an independent minster, which could lead to failure in his endeavours. This exception should not be looked at as a precondition before a minster could be released to go. It should only be looked on as a fatherly advice and suggestion to his son or junior minister. It is, therefore, the prerogative of the member or junior minster to either receive the suggestion or not. We are not supposed to be led by the men of God, but by the Spirit of God. So, a minister should be led by what he feels God is telling him. That should supersede any advice a man gives to him.
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