My suggestion in the previous two posts is that the church has brought in the Power structures of history and surrounding social structures. Yet the church is meant to be unique in many ways. Among those, we are supposed to turn power upside down.
We have trouble with this. I have a(n) FB friend who has been challenging a guy named Creflo Dollar (a religious TV personality… heard of him… haven’t heard him). It seems this guy is trying to get people to send him money so he can buy an airplane (as a missionary struggling financially in ministry, and knowing many worthy missionaries in an even worse state than myself… this, rightly I believe, offends me.) Curiously, apparently the wife of this Mr. Dollar is saying that people that challenge her husband are under God’s curse. I don’t know the story first hand (repeating what I was told). But if that is true, that seems to be a serious unwillingness to have use of (or perhaps abuse of) power challenged.
But the church should really be different.
1. It is to be countercultural. In other words, the church is not supposed to fail in the direction of mimicking local culture, but neither is it to gainsay the local culture. The surrounding culture typically supports a certain structure that defines the esteemed and the ignored. The church should empower the ignored, and honor the disgraced. It should also humble the esteemed and the powerful.
2. It is to be mutual. The church is made up of members where the power relationships are multiplex and even. That is, church members are supposed to honor one another, bear one another’s burdens, exhort on another, receive one another, and submit to one another. Jesus modeled it, and we are to practice it.
3. It is to be accountable. We all need people who hold us accountable. One reason I like the congregational structure in churches is that the power is shared by congregation, and is dispensed to spiritual leaders while holding them accountable. But for those that don’t have that structure, or where this accountability doesn’t work, there needs to be outside accountability. We once were part of a church without a good accountability structure. The accountability structure ended up being police tacking a tax lien on the house of the pastor. While this may work, it is ideal that a better structure was in place. My wife was part of an NGO where the head began to wield power in a manner that was not healthy for its members. Fortunately, there was a board of directors who were able to hold the leader accountable.
EVERYONE needs to be held accountable. The greater the power, the greater the temptation to abuse, and thus the greater the need for mutuality, and accountability. Only God is not accountable to anyone else, and even for God, based on the prophets in the Bible, it appears He does not mind being questioned or challenged.