How to Blow Up a Church: Three Easy Steps

Communications Staff — April 24, 2010

By Jim Hamilton, associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary and senior pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

1. Be proud

Who would go into a church and be proud? All of us in some way or another. But it might not be the kind of pride you recognize. Naturally we’re going to avoid the overt, obvious pride, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the pride that’s there, even if no one sees it immediately on the surface. I’m talking about the kind of pride that leads you to think that you are – or will be soon – as good a preacher as John Piper or David Platt. This kind of pride leads you to think “these little people at this insignificant church are so blessed to have me and they don’t even realize it.”

Christ died for those little people, and that “insignificant” church is God’s vanguard in the world. Go into it thinking that you’re too big for it, go into it proud, and you’ve got dynamite in place to blow it up.

2. Make assumptions

Assume the people in your church don’t know what they’re doing. Assume none of them know what a wartime lifestyle is, that none of them are willing to suffer for the Gospel or the church, and that they all have terrible theology. Assume you’re going to fix them. Assume that you’re as savvy and creative as Mark Dever, as funny and endearing as C. J. Mahaney, as respectable as Lig Duncan and as likeable as Thabiti Anyabwile. Then assume that you’re going to be as wise and loving and as convincing as these men have been as they have shepherded churches toward greater faithfulness.

Combine your assumptions about the people and the church with your assumptions about your ability to preach and lead, and not only do you have dynamite in place you also have matches in hand.

3. Don’t act like Jesus

Ready to light the fuse? Be sure not to act like Jesus. What I mean in particular is this: don’t go into that church to serve but to be served. Wait for them to initiate conversations with you. Wait for them to invite you over to their homes, then complain when they don’t. Wait for them to ask you how they can help. Tell them how they can pray for you, but be sure not to ask them how you might pray for them.

Give them the sense that you’re too important to spend time with them. Communicate very clearly that anytime they talk to you, their ignorance and impertinence annoys you. You don’t have to show them directly – you can make it known by the way you talk about them behind their backs.

Wear the pride of knowing you’re the next Piper not on your sleeve but as your undershirt. It will show in ways you don’t expect. Assume that you will be as effective leading the church as Mark Dever. The ways you lack his gifting will soon be obvious. And carry yourself like an aristocrat, not like Jesus. He said the greatest would be the servant, but you’re already the greatest so you needn’t bother serving anyone.

The dynamite is in place. The match is in hand, lit and you’ve set flame to the fuse. The fallout from the explosion will be devastating.

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