Friday, January 19, 2007

Deconstructing Church Authority

The change in my thoughts about leadership in marriage was a minor process for me. It was actually just a natural extension of examining my thoughts about authority, leadership, and submission within the church.

I accepted the fairly common belief that God appoints leaders in the church. In the last few years at our CLB, we were exposed to increasingly authoritarian teachings and models of leadership. For the most part, I didn't question the teaching. By nature, I tend to be a rule-follower. Going along with those in charge wasn't a problem for me. In fact, I was a strong supporter of being "submitted to the vision of the senior leader."

It wasn't until I ran headlong into blatant control and abuse that I began to question anything. Looking back now, I can see that sooner or later, a collision was inevitable. I was having trouble with the concept of rank and positional authority. I was also having trouble with required submission and covenant.

In the beginning, I was confused and willing to believe that I was the problem. All of my understanding from Scripture about authority was filtered through the grid I had been taught. In questioning those things, there was always the nagging thought that I was just rebellious. I didn't want to be rebellious; I just wanted to understand.

Deconstructing my beliefs about church leadership, structure, and government truly felt heretical and subversive. I entertained teachings about mutual submission from a distance, not yet willing to own them. So, I just pondered. I had to allow time for emotions to heal and for the pendulum swinging to subside.

I have finally come to the place where I feel clarity in my beliefs about power and authority in the church. I'll share some of those thoughts in a future post. I still have questions about how this plays out in organizational structures. It is an area that I continue to explore.


Lew A said...


I hope to see your thoughts on this subject very soon.


Alan Knox said...


One thing that has helped me is that no one is instructed to lead by Scripture. Instead, we are instructed to follow those who are good examples. The two do not go together. If someone follows me, it does not mean that I now have authority to direct them. They are completely different ideas.

I'm also interested in hearing what you've learned about this.


Mike Croghan said...

Looking forward to your insights, Grace.

KSG said...

Totally looking forward to your posts on this... my journey mirrors what you've just described. You've written what I would have.

grace said...

Thanks everyone. I'll get back on this topic next week.

That's the direction I'm headed Alan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

I appreciate your blog as well as the insights of many contributors.

I am doing research for a doctoral degree. I am looking to find participants in my confidential Questionnaire.

The topic revolves around those who have attended various Pentecostal and/or Charismatic types of churches and for various reasons became disillusioned. Some of these reasons include erroneous teachings, authoritarian leadership, spiritual abuse and general disappointment. People have left and gone to churches which they perceive are safer or have found fellowship elsewhere.

How could I post my email address to encourage participation in this Questionnaire? Any ideas?

Thanks for the help,

molly said...

Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts, Grace. I very much feel in the same position, though it sounds like you're steps ahead of me on this subject. It's a fearful one...messing around with authority when you've been trained to NOT mess with authority is...scary.