Sutton Turner: Leaving a Big Church is Selfish

Just when I thought we were getting somewhere…

Today, Sutton Turner posted an apologetic of sorts* (pdf of the post) for separation of pastors from pews in big churches. Turner seems convinced that the corporate world is a good analogy for a church leadership.

This quote seems to capture the mood:

When an organization grows and people lose access to the senior leader, many will take the selfish route and leave. They look back on the smaller, familial organization as the golden days, but Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NIV) reads, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”

Call me crazy but I doubt the Ecclesiastes verse means I am selfish to prefer a small, familial church.  Furthermore, I doubt it is a prohibition on leaving a church when you believe the governance structure is more aligned with big business than the New Testament.

I don’t think Turner meant this as an explanation for Mars Hill demise but in light of what has happened, it is an interesting statement:

Unfettered access to the senior leader will damage if not destroy the organization.

In contrast, very few people had access to the executive elders at Mars Hill. At least some of staffers who reported to the executive elders felt far removed from influence and access. Probably a little more access would have helped.

Some people like a megachurch and some don’t. My personal view is that large churches bring pressures to bear on pastors and members that compete with the mission of the church. On the other hand, very small churches can burn out the few faithful volunteers. Somewhere in the middle seems about right but even that is a matter of preference.

The relevance of this to Mars Hill is that the events of 2007 continue to reverberate even after Mars Hill Church is no more.

On another note, I just couldn’t get this song out of my mind…


*The post seems to be down now. To read it, click the pdf link

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