It is hard to see a church renewed and revitalized without being bold and actually taking risks that can build a sweat on the coolest of pastors. Church health is tied in with wisdom, boldness and risk taking. The apostles in Acts were bold and took risks. The early church knew their boldness was essential to the health and growth of Christianity around the known world.
Sometimes boldness brings pain, as in attacks on the team with Paul’s missionary journeys. Sometimes boldness brings imprisonment. Sometimes boldness brings deep wounds physically and emotionally. Sometimes boldness brings isolation. Even at times, boldness and risk taking can bring martyrdom. We do not like to volunteer for that! Sometimes boldness and risk taking call us to seize the situation instead of it seizing us….that can be related to whistle blowing, the kind that the Lord uses.
Whistle blowing is one of the loneliest callings in the world. It requires a boldness that is rare, as it often brings great internal pain. Whistle blowing draws us to humility to examine our own lives and to be sure that we are clean before the Lord and walking in His Spirit. Whistle blowing can scare you out of your skin but it can be the internal compass within that the Lord keeps using to say you must speak up. Whistle blowing has an emotional alarm clock that goes off saying; IT IS TIME TO WAKE UP.
Whistle blowing brings fears, it stares risking your ministry in the face…but it also has a peace that lets you know you are living in integrity and doing the right thing. Godly whistle blowing lies in the bed of righteousness, wanting to represent Jesus and His perfect will, nothing less. Whistle blowing can be prophetic like Nathan with King David, like Peter with Ananias and Sapphira, like the Holy Spirit rebuking you and me in our sin.
Yet, as you may know, Whistle blowing can be speaking to a power broker in your church, after much prayer and still seeing the individual seethe. Perhaps seeing a leader or other person with abused authority threaten your very ministry and calling. Whistle blowing can put a look of worry on your spouse’s face that you may never see again. Whistle blowing hits to the core of who we are. But, the longer you delay doing what you know is God’s will, the worse your spirit will be. Restless nights, wandering thoughts, stifling the activity of God reaches a point where you jump up and say that is it, IT IS TIME TO WAKE UP.
Risk taking is part of leadership. Yes, we want to measure our rebukes and weigh the nature of them. Yes, we want to respect and value relational capital. Yes, we want a long pastorate (I kind of know what some of you may be thinking by now) by God’s grace. Yes, we have families to take care of. Yes, I do care for you and a balanced life. Yet, I also care for your peace of mind…your integrity…your purity…your simplicity…your unity…your eternal rewards.
There is a pastor that I love and respect who over the course of his life has had to take a scary stand that was risky and bold on 3 separate occasions. He used Biblical wisdom in his pastoral ministry and was careful on when to speak up. Being relational and warm to others gave him healthy leverage. Yet, in his 40’s with a very large church, and yet another mid size church; and in his 50’s with a very large church, he had to stand in the gap. The first time, he and another pastor blew the whistle and they both left to other churches in time. Some of the top leaders tried to cover up blatant abuse and violations of Biblical truths. It was painful, but needed. Repentance was lacking and the very large church shrunk 200% in attendance over time. Friends, God still disciplines…and He uses our boldness and risk taking to be part of the process. Who will speak up for the Lord? Who will speak up for YAHWEH?
Is it you? Or is it someone else? Will the Lord at some point in your ministry clean house and use you to be His voice. Yes, painful, lonely, depressing, discouraging, fearful, weeping, restless…and also, convincing, conviction, assuredness and peace that this is the right thing to do. Friends, WE DO NOT NEED MORE GUTLESS PASTORS IN NORTH AMERICA and beyond.
One of my mentors, a beloved friend, Dr. Dennis Baker has not been afraid to speak the truth in love to many of us who he has invested in. I have had to examine myself and repent of sin in my life such as my pride, ego, desire to defend myself, concern for reputation, etc. Dennis is my friend and he loves me, which includes making me, be uncomfortable at times. He also has coached my wife and me as a couple and one time relayed to us a bold move by an incoming pastor of a church. The newly voted in pastor, as he was settling into his leadership, found a surprise…Ananias and Sapphira revisited. This time instead of a couple, it was a team of elders. Elders who are called to lead and guard the congregation. This time that was not happening.
The new pastor, in reviewing the church financials that he just currently received found some large holes from what he saw and what he had been given from the elders during his candidacy process. So large, that it dipped into a million plus dollars of varying reports. What did he do? He called the elders in, sought clarification and found out that there was deception for fear of losing him when he was evaluating his call. Reality check - they had not been honest on the Profit and Loss Statements, Balance Sheet and additional reports. Whistle Blowing – after prayer and Biblical discernment, the new pastor fired all of the elders. God cleaned house with a brave and bold man…a pastor like you and me…who had the guts, grits and calling to take action and speak up for Jesus. A Whistle Blower who did not give in to the pressure, even when he was new to that pastorate. He knew IT WAS TIME TO WAKE UP.
There is more than a breeze blowing in North American churches that needs to be stopped. Our failure as pastors to adequately and effectively train paid and non paid leaders who are potential elders, pastors, deacons or key leaders in our church has now grown to hurricane size issues. Winds are stirring and they are strong. In response to Senior or Lead Pastors not being accountable enough, other elders, deacons and key leaders, especially non paid influencers have taken internal controls and set us up as pastors. They have taken the lead, the hiring and firing and gone unaccountable themselves…the scales are unbalanced on both sides. It is time to stand in the gap. IT IS TIME TO WAKE UP! These ungodly leaders need to repent or be removed. Take the lead again for Jesus in your local congregation.
God is looking for churches to be healthy, renewed and revitalized. Sometimes your godly boldness will be well taken…other times your ministry at that church could be on the line. Weigh things carefully, be soaked in prayer, be Word and Spirit controlled, encourage your spouse and children. But for all things, please speak up for God when He gives you the nod. You are His leader placed by Him for Him. When prayer takes place with genuine people of the Lord, when we are all controlled by the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God with all boldness (Acts 4:31). That means new believers are on the rise…leaders are confronted and encouraged…houses of God are cleansed. That is what Jesus does through whistle blowers. He was a whistle blower Himself.
Stop the bad winds and do it now. Avoid the CAT 5’s…they are always deadly.
Greg Kappas, is the President of the Grace Global Network and Vice President of TTI