Matt Green sent me the above Youtube link that shows Ed Young, Jr., megachurch pastor from Fellowship Church in DFW, Texas, lamenting “Church Pirates.” According to pastor Ed, these Pirates join your staff and then have the audacity to go out and start their own churches after collecting a following within “his” church.
I am very hesitant to criticize any pastor. I believe that they have a very difficult job and are very often held up to standards that are not very fair. I have to make an exception in this case, however, as it reveals a confirmation of a stereotype that I have heard about megachurch pastors, namely, that they see the church as a business. I should also mention that pastor Ed invites blog comments. So…
I had a bad attitude welling up in my heart as I listened to this snippet as he is so negative about a person doing church planting without…. without…. without what? His blessing? The last time I checked I didn’t see any biblical injunction to avoid church planting because _____ (fill in the blank) didn’t bless it.
He (repeatedly) makes the statement, “You cannot do this in the corporate world…” as if starting a church in the shadow of a megachurch somehow breaks an unwritten monopoly rule. He goes much further and mocks the church planting “Pirate” for saying it was from the leading of the Holy Spirit. That’s a pretty mean spirited accusation.
He leans heavily on the word “loyalty.” That should be a scary word. Loyalty should be something given, not demanded. When pastors start demanding loyalty it’s an indication to me that they have already lost it. Do people belong to a church? Or… does the church belong to the people? This is a theologically challenging question to answer. I would not be as quick as Ed is to assume that the sheep belong to anybody but the Shepherd, regardless of where one worships.
I admit that I fear the megachurch pastor. When a pastor becomes so influential that they command a substantial following they begin to eclipse the priesthood of the believer. I know that there are great megachurch pastors out there. I am not philosophically or theologically opposed to the concept of the megachurch. However, my shepherd is Jesus.
If my pastor spoke like this (thankfully, he doesn’t) I would definitely be looking for the next pirate ship out of the cove.