John 10: 11 The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
Almost ten years ago I saw an article in Charisma magazine about “out of church” Christians. The article was about an interesting phenomenon: the increasing number of Christians who were deserting established churches hoping to find a more biblically appropriate way of living out their faith.
The article interested me because I had recently come out of a period I describe as a “spiritual crisis”, a period of more than fifteen years away from any church involvement, and I was keen to find a suitable local church. But I wasn’t having much success. Despite meeting with various pastors and attending meetings and home groups something always held me back.
Something wasn’t quite right. The “out of church Christian” experience seemed to be the reality I was facing, but not out of choice. It was difficult until I came across a new Christian forum that seemed to be populated by people from around the world who were in a similar situation. I found that the forum owner was one of the prominent sources of information for the Charisma article.
That forum opened my eyes to a lot of things. It made me realise how sheltered I had been in the past where most of my Christian experience had been in a single denomination. I became aware of many weird and not so wonderful beliefs and practices all claiming to be “Christian”. I was severely shaken and my own beliefs were challenged. The experience taught me about the need to make sure my faith had a strong and secure foundation – to test everything the way the Bereans had done, by searching the scriptures.
Since then I’ve had a lot of contact with other believers through blogs and forums and have seen many different theological traditions promoted. This has helped make me even more aware of the need for a BIBLICAL foundation for belief – and not one based on denominational tradition that relies on careless use of proof texts for support.
Recently the owner of that (now closed) forum has been speaking out against “lone ranger” Christians – those not submitting to “anointed” leadership and not committed to a recognised church group. Yet this man himself does not seem to follow his own requirements.
To whom does he see himself being accountable? Where does his commitment lean?
He sees himself as having an “anointing” and a “calling” and is disappointed when that isn’t recognised by others. He has now announced he is changing direction of his ministry. He is abandoning a generation of Christians he considers to be corrupted by worldly culture, expecting a new generation to be raised in their place that will follow his lead.
But this change of direction is not his first. In the years I’ve known him this man has chased after several “ministry” ideas – moving across the world and back in the pursuit of one idea after another, dropping one obsession for the next. He speaks out against “lone ranger” Christians – but what about lone ranger Christians with a following, who change direction and shake off their followers whenever things get hard?