Baptist Distinctives Day 6: Two Offices

Independent Fundamental Baptists believe that instead of having a plurality of elders, the church leadership should consist of two basic offices: The Pastor and His Flunkies (note: I am totally using this name if I ever start a band). Seriously, though, the offices consist firstly of the Pastor who is the teacher, administrator, CEO, head chef, marketing director, and all-around Grand Poobah in charge of everything. There are also some deacons who are in charge of changing light bulbs and chewing gum removal.

The requirements for becoming a pastor are stringent in fundyland. You have to be male. You have to claim to have heard THE CALLâ„¢. You have to own at least one serviceable suit. You have to not be divorced. And you have to be in the good graces of a couple other pastors. Education, wisdom, gentleness, and professionalism are completely optional.

The requirements for a deacon is that he also be a male who is not divorced. Lord only knows what corruption a divorced man would bring upon the janitors closet. The role of the deacon actually varies from church to church, ranging from “sycophant” to “toady.” Strangely enough, though, the job description found in Acts of of making sure the poor are fed somehow rarely gets much priority. Deaconesses are simply never spoken of.

As for all that stuff in the Bible about bishops, elders, and whatnot…well those are obviously all talking about the same exact job: Divinely Appointed King.

78 thoughts on “Baptist Distinctives Day 6: Two Offices”

  1. And of course notice the only person in the org chart that has a line to God. Very appropriate.

    I laso like in the chart that the type and font of the MOG is larger and darker than that of God.

  2. I have an IFB constitution in my file that lists the two offices in its doctrinal statement and then, in its by laws lists the offices of treasurer, secretary, SS superintendent, flower committee chairman, etc. to a total of a dozen.

    As to the organizational chart, my favorite was a large circle surrounded by smaller connected circles. The large circle was “Uncle Billy”.

      1. Actually, in divinity school, one of my classmates was a shepherd as a kid and teenager in the Peruvian mountainside where he was born. He said, over and over that unless you had that type of experience, you will never “get” many nuances in those biblical passages.

        He says “STUPID” doesn’t begin to describe sheep.

        1. Well, I have also raised sheep. I had one sheep in my flock which had all the brains – without that one, the scattered in all directions. Of course my lead sheep was an ewe…. 🙂

  3. In the church where I grew up, we had 3 pastors in the 14 years I was there; I never saw the powerful MOG described by other posters here until I grew up. My dad was the head deacon and he was always quibbling with the pastor about something.

    An acquaintance just told a friend of mine that deacons were there to “keep an eye on the pastor” and make sure he didn’t get out of line. That’s more the attitude that I’ve run into. The deacons weren’t syncophants but rather curmudgeons who were there to guard the status quo (by calling traditions ‘biblical’ and stirring up strife whenever one of their traditions was questioned).

    1. So true! The church my Christian school was in had a deacon’s board that ran the show and ran off two pastors and a retired pastor who was doing nothing but attending! Finally they found a pastor that would do what they wanted.

    2. On the other hand, I have come across a few churches that are essentially “owned” by the head deacon, who names and fires pastors at will.

      I have also known a couple of “pastor killing” churches, where, because of a lifelong feud between two specific elders, the churches have gone through fifteen pastors in twenty years. (Most sheep in these churches praying that essentially God call these two to their reward.)

      1. When I was a young pastor I candidated (applied) to take over for a retiring pastor. He had been at the church for 55 years ❗ and OWNED the church building. The poor young guy who did get the position soon found that the pastor wasn’t going anywhere. In fact he soon insisted on preaching twice a month! And since he owned the building… 🙄

        1. Is this a church in southern NJ, by any chance, because I heard about a situation with striking similarity to this one just today.

        2. I have a non-fundy pastor friend who just lost his ministry because of the influence of a former pastor, who ‘owned’ not the building but the elders… He needs prayer. 👿

    3. Indeed this is the norm…the model Darrell uses is mostly fable put forth by “big Time” preachers who started their own church and at Bible colleges this model is advertised to fool the unsuspecting preachers in training–
      also many pastors preach like they are what they aren’t when they go to campmeetings, and use this model as the example.

      But in reality, most churches–fundy or not—are deacon/elder/whatever run and this too is very unscriptural.

  4. I once had a MOG point me out from the pulpit one Sunday morning & scream that he hoped I burned in hell. The reason? I dared questioned him b/c he was using the Mission money to line his own pockets. I found this out when I realized some of the missionaries we were supporting were dead & some were off the field. No one ever believed me b/c he had the authority. Makes me sick to this day how blindly people follow their pastor.

  5. It’s not just IFB churches that have this basic mindset. I attend a Baptist church that falls somewhere in the middle (some would consider us traditional, some would consider us radical liberals)that is associated with both the Cooperative Baptists and the SBC (though moving away from this). We have casual dress, contemporary music but no real band (although we’re not opposed to it) a woman Minister of Music, female ushers and at one time female deacons (none serving currently), but we have a sector of old people whose “grandfather made the bricks for the foundation” and who believe the SBC is anointed by Heaven. Several years ago a group researched the concept of Elders from a Biblical stance, and when it was presented the old SBC people were almost passing out in the aisles. It caused such a HUGE disruption that the group said, “Forget it.” The sad thing is, a lot of churches are probably like ours where no serious changes will be allowed until a certain sector of the membership dies off! Doesn’t matter if it’s “Biblical,” only that “We’ve never done it that way before!”

    1. There’s an old quote up in our neck of the woods, “There’s nothing wrong with (Fill In The Blank) Church that a few good funerals wouldn’t take care of.”

  6. Gotta tell ya Darrell, this series hasn’t been my favorite, but this post is hitting on all cylinders.

    The pastor is King of all that he sees and can control, from the color of the carpet to the proper setting of the thermostat, and everything in between.

    When we raised enough money to carpet our sanctuary in my old fundy church, I well remember the Pastor crying, complaining, campaigning and nearly everytime he was in the pulpit mentiong the color of carpet he wanted. I really didn’t care, but he acted like a child that was throwing a fit for an ice cream cone. (he got his color)

    Hail to the (IFB) King.

  7. Yes! A Chart! Mark this one down for “Best of 2011”! I especially like the fact that Gid communicates directly to the Man of Gid, who acts as the one mediator between Gid & man: the man, man of Gid.

    Also, if you need a harmonicist, guitarist, ukuleleist, or Byzantine chanter for your band, let me know. I’ve been Call(tm)ed to be a Flunkie.

    1. Ladies and Gentlemen from the land of the Fundies please make welcome “The Pastor and His Flunkies” with special guest star Darrell.

      They will play all of your requests, if you’ll just slip your request to the manager “reader mo” on 100.00 dollar bills (remember they’re recovering fundies)

      Set back and enjoy the show!

  8. In some IFB churches the deacons act like elders and the trustees act like deacons and the pastor is their employee. In others, many have titles but only one has “the force”.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen those too.

      Usually it’s tied to a money issue. Someone or a couple someone’s in the church are financing a major part of the operation by themselves. That means they get more say and the pastor is treated just like an employee. If the pastor happens to be a relative of one of the rich dudes then it’s just that much worse.

      It’s not as common but I’ve seen it first-hand. It ain’t pretty.

  9. ahhh yes…the pastor as CEO and Grand Poobah. as a prominent IFB pastor from Kansas told our preacher boy class at BJU in 2005, “I call the shots in our church and school. I do ALL the hiring and firing.”

    1. They end up influencing things simply because of their money, not because of their wisdom, testimony, or character despite the fact that the Bible says to “show no partiality” in James 2. In practice, it doesn’t work that way.

  10. One of my ex-pastors said from the pulpit that he liked to be the mother dog with all his preacher boy puppies around him.

    Needless to say, I shortly left that church.

  11. Perfect. I used to refer to the deacons as the bobbleheads. They could only nod yes to the MoG.

    True story…a friend of mine made to the the office of deacon before he jumped the fence. One day the pastor left the meeting so that his “men” could discuss his salary. One deacon said that because of his performance the pastor should get a 5% raise. My friend, being new to the group, asked what a 5% raise would cost. All of the men looked around and shrugged their shoulders. Only the secretary/treasurer knew, and she was the MoG’s niece.

    1. Mr. Lawman

      I cannot tell you how many times I have told that story. I am not sure if it makes me feel better that other people have come though similar chruches or if it that it scares me that there are others out there like “The Good Doctor”.

  12. Every time I hear the word “deacon”, of Deacon Frye, the protagonist of an 80s tv show called “Amen.” He was played by the same guy who played George Jefferson. I remember that Frye had his own office at the church.

  13. That’s not surprising. After all, he who has the money makes the rules. That’s probably true in non-Fundy churches also.

    I’m just wondering how much influence the rich tithers actually have. Can they fire the pastor, for example?

    1. In some churches, the rich tithers have direct control because they’re also deacons and thus can fire the pastor. In other churches, they have indirect control, and can force the pastor to do what they want (possibly including resignation) by threatening to withdraw their monetary support.

      1. Among the IFB churches I was involved with for almost 15 years, they don’t teach the people how to fire the pastor. And no, the wealthy people don’t control the pastors..the pastors control all the money and the wealthy people, many times, will end up leaving when they start asking to see the books and get denied access. The diagram hit the nail on the head..but those big fundy names are not the ‘in’ crowd anymore. Now it’s Jack Schaap, Paul Chappell, Tim Ruhl, and Jack Trieber. The West Coast of California is infested with IFB’s.

  14. Hey Darrell, why are there so few goats in the congregations? And there should be at least one “rebel-in-waiting”, who’s ready to flee from fundyland anytime!

  15. This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

    Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

    Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
    Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein… …Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

    For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

    1. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.

      This is the exception in IFB pastorates not the rule.

      “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” -Lord Acton

      That would be more the rule in the IFB.

      More on my stance against the Americanized Pastor Caste can be found here: http://persifler.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/corruption-is-directly-proportional-to-the-level-of-control-that-is-available/

  16. Heh. I rather like how the chart depicts the Cloud of Witnesses as ABOVE God. The sad part is that some people do think this way, even if they won’t admit it…

  17. I think your chart is in error. Bob Jones Sr. is a person of ill repute who dared to think that the KJV issue is to minor an issue to even bother bringing up.

  18. Oh my GOSH – OH MY GOSH! I used to be the church sec at a IFB church and I spent months making charts just like that for all the ministries! I could cry-laugh-vomit-and scream all at the same time!!!

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