Confessions and Repentance of an Elder
On one hand we can point out what the scriptures say and how the church has departed from them, but it is another to acknowledge the part we played while we were leaders in the Institutional church. So it is part of our repentance and personal confession from my heart to you as it says:
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When we recall of our involvement "in church" and some of the things we thought, felt, and said along the way, our skin literally crawls. We desired to leave quietly, without fanfare, peaceably, and did not want to be "honored" and "blessed" in front of the assembly as we went out. It was in our thoughts, back then in 2004, to drop in for a visit on occasion to our old church. That was not God's will we later realized, and HE used others, circumstances, situations, dreams, and the hidden anger in my own heart to make sure we did not go back.
Three years + later, we hold no un-forgiveness, or bitterness toward anyone, even those who have literally turned their back on us.
I am a Person Formerly Known as a "Leader".
We were part of the supporting cast in our church.
I was never paid to lead. I had “leadership roles". I (along with my wife) were viewed as supporting pillars in our assembly. I did not aspire to be one of the front leaders with a platform seat, instead, I simply took the "vision" of our church, supported it, funded it, defended it, and promised loyalty to it.
For 24 years my wife and I served in that role and it was only after we left church that we realized how many things we had never considered in light of the Bible.
We found out you really don't know much about your relationship to Jesus Christ until you leave what is perceived as "church".
I am a Person Formerly Known as a Leader.
All this time I worked as your leader. I was at one time or another a prayer minister, your counselor, your ministry head, elder, board member, fund raiser, building worker, visitation worker, (choir director-ess), etc). We (I) helped or served at various times on the board of directors, elder, worship team, the prayer team, the nursery, the hospitality team, the cleaning crew, usher, deacon, and other positions.
I (we) am a Person Formerly Known as a Leader
Because of all this, I need to repent and ask your forgiveness. I was wrong. I thought wrong things. I believed wrong things. I modeled wrong things. I taught wrong things. I was wrong. I have sinned against you and the others and against my grace loving, mercy giving, all powerful, all loving God.
-I repent for teaching and modeling that the “covering” of our church is scriptural. I repent for going along with the “24 hour rule” which is not only contrary to New Testament grace, but cultivated a “secret police” circle within the organization.
-I took your private conversations and passed them on to the pastor if I thought there might be a problem. I told myself that this was an accepted practice to gain wisdom in dealing with your situation. Now I see it was probably mostly to garner, in some twisted way, the favor of my leaders, to show my loyalty, and to fill my own need to feel important.
-In leaders fellowship circles I listened to risque jokes, attended questionable entertainment, partook of the worldly music and dances inside the building where worship services were held, partook of hard liquor drinks that were offered to us by our leaders, all without speaking up because we did not want to be called "legalists" or "judgemental".
1Cor 6: 2 Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren.
-You see, we were conditioned to accept these things and keep silent as we drifted away from scripture and holiness.
-I did nothing when our leaders spoke or taught things that were obviously unscriptural. We helped promote unscriptural plays, songs, fundraisers, and the acceptance of everything that called itself "Christian" in the name of peace. We even brought worldly politicians in to speak to the church and promoted patriotism. Jesus plainly said "My kingdom is not of this world...". (See our article "Christians, Oaths, and Politics")
-Nor did we see anything wrong with the obvious financial irregularities, extravagant lifestyles, or blatant desire and pursuit of financial gain by various ministers. The auctions, bake sales, Valentines Day sales, books, jewelry, peanut brittle and "stuff" that went to pay for building remodels, supplies, and electronics were merely the works of a group trying to maintain their own kingdom. There were people on the church payroll who should never have received financial renumeration for their "ministry" or services. We defended, justified, and enabled the self-indulgent lifestyle of God's servants whom we hired and paid.
-We blindly gave agreement to our church being run as a family business, which, in reality it was and still is. -We agreed as it became a 501c3 government-registered "church" and thus married ("unequally yoked") to a kingdom of this world.
-We stood by and supported various pastors as they became "kings" with the church as their kingdom, and the people as their servants rather than it being the other way around. This they did for payment of tithes and offerings which we supported also. Jesus taught exactly the opposite and role modeled the truth for us. In Mat 20 He told His followers to do the exact opposite: 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; 27 and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant:
28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
We were part of the Nicolaitane error (Rev. 2:15) that did more to support clergymen rather than those we are called to minister to.
- I taught, modeled and practiced tithing. In private meetings it was said if you didn’t tithe you were not "sold out" and things could happen to you and/or your finances. Those who did not tithe were viewed as less than commited to Christ and some who tithed from fear or desire for gain were critiqued. Now I understand the fallacy of this. It is a practice never given to any Christian or any church in New Testament scripture and it is not of God. In doing so, we bought the attention of our leaders andhelped to corrupt them.
- I did not stand up and speak up when I heard and saw something in our leadeship that was wrong being taught, lived, or modeled. In this way, you, as people who respected me had neither voice nor protection. There were many times I should have gently/humbly spoken up in Godly fear to correct other leaders around me as scripture was ignored or by-passed. I wrongly felt that it was up to God to correct and deal with them. That it was not my “place” to correct “God’s Anointed”, even though scripture commands us to using the steps given in Mat 18. And as Paul told Timothy "2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine...." No pastor in scripture is given sole authority over elders and we allowed this to the hurt of many.
- Towards the end, when we saw the error of our ways, there were times I became abrasive as we were not in agreement with numerous people, practices, and customs.
I wanted to be seen by leaders as important, loyal, and wanted to be in the “inner circle" of leadership. I bought their friendship with flattering words, gifts, and serving them; and until the last few years, not making waves, not challenging them and being disloyal to what I sometimes knew was wrong. The Bible calls this "respect of persons", it caused us to look toward other men for the reward of acceptance, position, a title, and self-esteem. Job32:21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
-I took hidden pleasure in being esteemed, feeling important, and the demonstration of spiritual gifts. As when people would fall over when I laid hands on them, I enjoyed the feeling of demonstrating spiritual power in front of the church.
-As a leader, I was able to wear the mask of spiritualty when in fact, after my Dad died, I was like Ezekiel's dry bones (Eze 36).
-I did not diligently read my Bible although I knew a lot of scripture. I struggled with little to no time given to deep prayer.
-I showed a lack of respect to Christians from other churches as there was a competitive spirit in me.
-I overlooked sin in our midst and excused it in my own life.
-I manipulated giving toward our "church" in services and participated in church fund raisers in a way as to get others to do likewise.
-I was guilty of having "the repect of persons".
-When our meals were bought for us with church money we felt we deserved it.
-I enjoyed the recognition in the awards assemblies, the plaques, gifts, and perks.
-Inside, I felt resentment when people left our body. I could not understand why anyone would abandon our church, although we did our best to hide it.
-We taught our children to know more about "church" practices than Jesus Christ and His Word because we were disciples of our church rather than disciples of Christ.
My pride, arrogance, manipulation and disregard for the scripture are detestable to me. In that I was your leader, role model, and teacher makes it doubly serious. For God to get us into a place of cleansing, we had to leave our church.
This is not beating myself up to the point where I imagine that I did nothing right. There were many of you that I loved unconditionally. We showed hospitality, we modeled a good marriage, an open and honest life and when I needed to, I have asked your forgiveness.
But the scope and magnitude of which I see my own heart today is detestable to me. Truly the scripture says "all of our rightousness is as filthy rags", like Job who said "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes..." when shown by God his self-righteousness.
Like Isaiah who said in 6:5 "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts".
Today, I ask your forgiveness even though you were not directly under my leadership.
So why ask your forgiveness? This is why.
Maybe in reading my “confession” you will come to realize that those in leadership above you that have inflicted so many hurts will someday come to realize the "why" of what they have done.
Maybe your prayers for them will result in them walking out of their own deception and the system they serve and struggle to maintain.
Maybe the grace that you show to them will be a signpost for them to follow.
Maybe in not hating them you will be able to love and pray for their blinders to fall off.
From our hearts to you, I am so sorry. Forgive me. And please forgive those who also have been your leaders.
After Jesus thoroughly castigated and rebuked the "leadership" of His people, He forgave them on the cross, and Jesus taught forgiveness is a mandatory requirement for entrance into the presence of God. -Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Job 33:27-30 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.
A Person formerly known as a Leader.