I often have great conversations about "church" or rather, religious institutions, that use the title of "church". After being on staff at several of these hierarchical systems over the years and basically being born into it, I feel like I have a pretty good perspective. Being on the inside and seeing how things work and then stepping outside of it, I can now see a clearer picture.
One of the things I've realized over the last several months is that, once I truly read the stories of Jesus in the Bible and saw what He actually said about certain things and how he treated people and handled situations, it looked nothing like our modern, religious institutions.
The first thing I noticed was the hierarchical system found ingrained in our Sunday morning gathering places. Every "church" I had been a part of since I was a kid and every place I had been on staff at had fought tooth and nail to uphold this system of titles and importance. Those on top of the leadership totem pole in the "church" fed on and needed titles. Pastor, Teacher, Father, Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet, Minister, Reverand, etc... these are just some of the titles that are commonly used and the sad thing is that most if not all of these people who adorn these titles all but demand that people call them by their title before their name. Especially if you were on staff and one of their employees.
Now, every time I hear "Pastor" used as someone's first name, I want to puke because using titles for each other is one of the things Jesus specifically asked us NOT to do. A title = entitlement. A title = importance. The problem with “important” people is that importance leads to prideful, selfish behavior, and the oppression of those who blindly submit to them.
It is important not to be “important.”
Titles are for secular positions – doctor, judge, officer, president, senator, etc. not for spiritual callings. Our callings to serve God is not to make US important to others, but to make GOD important to others.
To desire a title in the "Church" or in ministry communicates several things:
1. You are more important than others, 2. you know more than they do, 3. that you stand up front, and others just sit there, and listen to you and do what you say is best for them. 4. And most of all, if you have a title, you are entitled to financial support!
Do I have scripture to back all this up? Well, actually yes. If you want to to see what Jesus said about all of this read Matthew chapter 23, I beg of you. Read the whole chapter in context and as if you were in the crowd listening to him say these words in front of the "church" leadership of His day. Let's just say that what He said to the religious leaders and onlookers on that day is not something you will EVER hear from a pulpit at a weekend service. Why? Well, Jesus kind of goes against everything the modern "church" stands for and is built upon. I would go as far as to say that these are the most IGNORED words of Jesus.
A man that has really helped me on this new journey with Jesus that I'm on is Wayne Jacobsen. When asked about this subject he perfectly summed it up when asked these questions:
How does this apply to today? And does using titles so as to not offend make sense in Scripture?
A title presumes entitlement. However, we are all EQUAL in God's kingdom. We have gifts and jobs to do, but not to make ourselves more important over others, so they have to give us special consideration. Each believer is just as anointed as a person who works at a "church".
Yes, we are all anointed by God, not just certain chosen ones.
We are all chosen. People with titles want special honor, and rewards for who they are. Hierarchical systems ALWAYS demand submission to their leadership even though Jesus CLEARLY says we are to be submitted to Him alone.