If the pastor’s face is the logo of a church, there’s a chance that Jesus is not the hero. If programs, creativity, leadership savvy, or innovation is your hero, this is a good indication that the church is not centered on the gospel . Jesus is always the hero of a church centered on the gospel.
Chandler, Matt; Geiger, Eric; Patterson, Josh (2013-11-26). Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Kindle Locations 1481-1483). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
We attended a church for a while where the pastor did about everything. He hardly missed a Sunday in the pulpit, visited every person is the hospital (and made sure to mention it on Sunday morning), and developed every plan or program that the church had to offer. And most people loved him for it.
So when we asked some questions about his theology, or gave another interpretation of what a passage might mean to our small group, it was not taken well. In fact, if we couldn't completely support the pastor without question, we were told there were other churches we could attend.
This church had been through some rough times, almost closing because of a split prior to this pastor coming on board. The people loved him for seeing them through that. You just might say they worshiped him, because they did. He was their new savior. And he relished the role.
The church was growing, not by leaps and bounds, but maybe 5-10 members per year. And growth means God's okay with whatever you do. At least that was leadership's opinion. It did not seem to matter that people were also leaving at a brisk pace. Turnover was the key. Keep a few more than you lose each year, and everything is fine.
stewardship video that just about sums it up for me. It comes around the 0:56 mark. The pastor states, "...and we probably wouldn't be here now if these facilities had not been built to meet our needs." Perhaps following up with a few lines from one of our hymns. "My faith is built on nothing less than this fine building and self-righteousness." Thank goodness their needs were met. We wouldn't, or perhaps couldn't, have a church if our needs were not met. Faith and trust in Jesus will apparently only take you so far.
So after shaking the dust off our feet, we hit the road.
In the same way, church cultures void of the gospel are empty and worthless. Church cultures, apart from the grace of Jesus, are utterly broken . And just because a church talks about grace does not mean its culture is filled with grace.
Chandler, Matt; Geiger, Eric; Patterson, Josh (2013-11-26). Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Kindle Locations 1536-1538). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.