Weekly Sabbath Survey
Since meeting my cattleman/preacher friend Kit Pharo, I have been referring to myself as a “herd quitter.” Kit’s definition of a Herd Quitter is someone who has the courage to break away from the status quo herd mentality way of thinking. His theory for successful ranching is to try to see things from another angle in order to make your ranching business more profitable: Do something you never did before so you can get results you never got before.
I see this as perfectly applicable to the ‘herd’ mentality church going Christians have developed over much time. I am not disparaging the flock of Jesus, but I am referring to an almost robotic mind set in some of us. We need to hear from God all the time for what we should be doing: correcting and developing in our faith to be successful in ministry pursuits and more so in our personal walk with God.
There’s a problem because we have collected ourselves into “herds.” We call them “denominations.” Within the herd, everything must be done according to herd rules and nobody is to suggest or do anything different, even if what is being done is contrary to what the Bible says. Some of the rules handed down from headquarters are based on what today’s way of thinking has become. This is dangerous ground for having a social gospel dictated to the entire herd whether they want it or not, whether they believe it or not.
Another problem for various herds is that every time we discover some activity or plan that is successful, we want to continue with that way of thinking and doing long after it has been time to move on. In fact, we keep some things so long, we deem them as holy and sacred when they are NOT. It is no secret that many denominational organizations are dwindling in numbers. The Herd Quitters have left the building. We may think it means people are walking out on the Lord, but many are just weary of the herd mentality.
Truly, we are in a special time in human history to be making course corrections in how we do the Christian faith, but the changes must take us toward, and not away from, the Lord and His Word. We have two thousand years of walking an oblique angle away from God. The further we went the further away we got from the original model for that First Church in the Book of Acts. There have been times of great correction. It always came with upheaval and a battle hard fought. It was always denounced as “the devil” by the church men of power of that day. One of the most cherished activities of any organization is the work done for its preservation. People with new or even ‘old’ ideas are seen as a threat. No reformer ever wanted to leave the herd. They were always forced out. Jesus said to His truest friends and followers, “They will put you out of the synagogue.”
Some people have discovered that any time two or three Believers get together in Jesus’ name, He is there to make that gathering holy. Stained glass windows, padded pews, thick carpets, ear splitting sound systems, and below zero air conditioning doesn’t make any of it holy. But if God is there, the place is holy because of His presence. Little else is needed and anything less is unacceptable. This truth is very dangerous for the organized church.
Some of you readers are in attendance at a building that has everything with a congregation of thousands and a gifted, orator preacher. Others meet in a modest little country building or a space in a shopping mall, where a few neighbors meet to share the Lord. One of the members will teach or preach to exhort the group to greater devotion to the Lord. Then, there are those who meet in someone’s home for a very informal house church, an unstructured service, and have meal together. Whichever one we do, the thing that matters is the presence of God. If He is there, all is well. If He isn’t, well, you know. . .
I thank God for Martin Luther, John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, and all the others sent by Him to stir up our nest and get us to thinking and praying apart from the crowd mentality. And I thank Him for all the herd quitters who have chosen to follow the Lord on another path that takes them away from the herd.
. . . Work out your own salvation (deliverance) with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12