The Superman model of ministry so prevalent during the last 40 years is being tested.
It’s “one man, one show” person centric philosophy is being challenged by age, lack of transition plans and unchallenged sin nature.
For the Superpastor the “Kryptonite” to fear and respect is still original sin.
Sin nature is still abundantly available here on earth for Super-Christians who want to partake of it. The celebrity model of ministry during this media driven age has put many a face on the TV screen and radio waves. Gone are pink hair, bad comb overs and laughable stunts of TBN and Tammy while we welcome the newer, youngish, hipper and more relatable crew that cater to our Christian consumer needs through the mass of available outlets.
Don’t get me wrong, this style of leadership has given us some great ministries that have accomplished much for God’s Kingdom.
However, time tests everything and the mega church model is becoming the “old gray mare” and she “ain’t what she used to be.”
Let’s say we are capable of a couple of bad decisions a year for a couple of years, that’s not much. But if you make two bad decisions a year for several decades you have an accumulation that may alter your world, or worse someone else’s. The older the philosophy of ministry is, the greater the likelihood of weakness.
The era of the “benevolent dictator” as pastor is under fire.
Accountability, and the lack thereof, are words thrown around like Ninja weapons to accuse leaders of any number of self centered sins.
However, in the context of the personal isolation that celebrity life inevitably brings, accountability to friends, family and understanding peers can be a lifesaver. The Bob Coy tragedy and the Mark Driscoll dust up are just signs of a weakening construct of a ministry philosophy that ultimately does not work long term. To build on one mans talent and gifting ultimately stacks the weight on one mans weaknesses whether they be major or minor flaws. You add years to those flaws and the potential for failure increases.
If we were to take a walk thru scripture beginning with Moses’ “Captains” of Exodus 18 all the way through the partnerships of Paul with Barnabas, Silas,, Priscilla and Aquila to Timothy and his team of deacons and elders, we see that leaders don’t lead in isolation. We see good listeners like Timothy and Titus soaking up wisdom from Paul, not the belligerent, self-reliant bullies that dot today’s pastoral landscape.
I don’t see any lone wolfs in Scripture.
I think this philosophy of church planting and subsequent ministry starts with the idea of chairs facing one direction listening to one man talk and never progresses beyond measuring the size of the audience. Hence the often asked question at pastors conferences, “how many you runnin’ on Sundays?” Super success means you still have the solo leader shouldering the celebrity power that fuels multiple services, the satellite locations, the big screens and the added plethora of media. It works when it works but the chairs are still facing the same direction when Superman fails. It just gets crazy trying to keep up.
It seems that Superman’s strength is waning these days and the definition of “crazy” is still “find what doesn’t work and keep doing it.”