Presumption, Entitlement, and Privilege 

The clergy-laity divide has cut a deep, bleeding swath in God’s field.  It is rare to find “fellow workers” anymore – some who water, some who plant.  It is far more common to find farming overlords.  This is the true division which we should seek to mend.  Forget doctrinal differences!

A curtain of privilege has been erected, a platform of presumption has been raised, and a dark distinction drawn between mere parishioner and spiritual nobleman.  Behind this curtain, SECRECY is the norm.  After all, how can the common folk hold the noblemen in awe if there is no element of secrecy, no privileged information, no air of mystery, no inner workings for them to wonder about?  One should immediately pause and ask what there could possibly be to hide.

Because of this divide between layperson and professional minister, politics has entered the fellowship of the saints, and it is nasty – it is ugly – it hurts and ruins people’s lives, and it does not apologize but continues to steamroll over and try to subdue precious souls into keeping in lock step with the agenda of the leaders.  This powerful, preeminent and privileged subset of Christians are truly a ruling class who do not tolerate suggestions of reform (either because it threatens their paycheque or their power, or both), and love to see commoners beg for crumbs from their table or solicit input from them.  This is codependency and narcissism at its finest and most subtle, NOT the equity, mutual submission, and deference for one another that Jesus, our true and singular Head, desires for his Body!!  

By way of example – In my last church, the leadership would jetset here and there attending various church leaders-y, world-changing, nation-shaking events and summits.  Off to Israel, Japan, Germany, etc etc.  They would report back at length to the congregation on these adventures, and all the awesome things that transpired (including sight seeing and travel).  The congregation, sure that these events were the cogs that turned the church vision into reality, would give sacrificially, listen intently, and intercede intensely whenever these international events came around on the calendar.  But do you imagine that any “commoner” was invited to experience all of these wonderful spiritual things, instead of or alongside the leaders?  Not a snowball’s chance in hell, my friend 🙂  Only vicarious and financial involvement is permitted, as such actual ministry is the privilege of the leaders alone.

Such is the mentality of the lords over God’s flock.  It’s is their job to hear from God (and yours to obey), it is their job to preach (and yours to listen), it is their job to steward the money (and yours to pay faithfully).   It is their presumed right to travel for ministry, it is their presumed right to earn a living from your tithes and otherwise spend your donations as they see fit, it is their presumed right to make unilateral decisions affecting everyone, it is their right to talk about people behind closed doors, and often they feel it is their right to give you input into your life or veto/approve your personal decisions or a calling you feel from God.  They truly preside over the institutional church.

And many wonder why people are leaving the 4 walls of the church in droves, in search of something far more authentic.

Have you ever encountered privilege, entitlement or presumption at church?  How did you deal with it?

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