"I once was bowling with my father (who was a self-educated tool and die expert) and some others. Something got hitched up with the pin resetting machinery, and my father wondered what had happened. A man turned to him and said, “there’s something wrong with the mechanism.”
The man walked away, and my father made sure he pointed out to me that the man had just sounded like he explained something, but he didn’t; he just repeated my father’s question with a statement. I’ve never forgotten that instance."
Interesting story, and it got me to thinking (a dangerous pastime, that)... and it seems to me that situations of pastoral abuse are rather like that pin-resetter — churches can break down too, whenever something gets “hung up in the mechanism”.
Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church, but He never said that it wouldn’t break down from time to time. In fact, break-downs are bound to happen, because Jesus has built His Church upon human rock:
Mat 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
….. but when leader-worship breaks out in a church, the resultant situation is rather like that pin-resetter snafu — when people are worshipping a leader, it affects their “mechanical aptitude”, and they are unable to address, let alone fix, the inevitable breakdown. And so divisions and abuses result, and the Church breaks down, and, by following human leaders rather than Christ, and by endowing those human leaders with that Headship which is the rightful seat of Christ alone, the laity as a body emasculates itself, and grows weak and soft, and so becomes unfit to address abuse problems and heresies when they arise.
Now, bowling alleys have service-people who repair their pin-setters, so that analogy is only good to a point, but did you ever see a car break down in a very small town?
Before you know it, you have a crowd of locals gathered around, exchanging car-breakdown stories and ideas, and shooting the bull, and often as not, if the problem isn’t too severe, the car will soon be on the road again, or at least on its way to a repair shop, with the problem already diagnosed.
The church can work that way too, AS LONG AS we don’t become like that man at the bowling alley, who was content to leave the problem to the “experts.” The Church should and does have people who are experts– ordained pastors, deacons and bishops — but they, like us, are PART of the mechanism, and can also go on the fritz. That’s why we all need to be Bereans, and educate ourselves in the care and feeding and general operation of the Faith, so that when the Church starts rattling and smoking and won’t go, we can put the hood up and stand around together, exchanging church-breakdown stories and ideas, and get Her up and running again, or at least on Her way to being repaired, with a clear diagnosis of the problem.
Jesus said to His apostles, whom He would later ordain to lead His Church,
“Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”