I was talking to a friend of mine today and he told me about a man in his church who tried to take over a business meeting. It seems the man doesn’t want to make any changes to reach new people.
When the pastor went there, the church couldn’t pay her bills and was dying on the vine. Since his becoming pastor, the church has begun to gain a positive reputation in the community, people are being saved, the income is up and the baptismal waters are being stirred.
Just this past week, a man who owned land adjacent to the church said he was going to give the property to the church because of the work the church was doing. Yet, Brother Knucklehead wants to take the church backwards.
Brother Knucklehead is of his father the devil. Like the devil, he hates authority. Satan refused to remain surrendered to the Sovereignty of the Living God. He wanted to rule and run the universe. Brother Knucklehead thinks he knows better although he was never called to preach or pastor. He thinks it’s his church. He doesn’t realize that God birthed, ordained and established the church before Brother Knucklehead was ever a thought.
Like the devil, he wants to rule. He wants to be in charge. I do not believe in pastoral dictatorship, I do believe the Bible teaches pastoral authority. Anything with more than one head belongs in a freak show in a circus. While there are many ‘elders’ in a church, there is one pastor. Paul didn’t appoint a committee to serve as pastor, he appointed Timothy. Brother Knucklehead doesn’t agree with Paul’s philosophy, which just happens to be sanctioned and approved by the Holy Spirit who gave us the Word. Apparently, Brother Knucklehead has a problem with the way the Spirit runs His church.
I’ve served in ministry for thirty years, trust me, Brother Knucklehead is in every church. These kinds of people reproduce like rats in a sewer. The devil doesn’t have to fight churches, he joins them.
How do you recognize a Knucklehead? They have an agenda. They join a church to get their way. They expect everyone to bow to their wishes. They organize an unofficial group around them to discuss how they can gain power and influence. They butter up the right people to try to get in influential positions.
They want power. Their agenda is power and control. Most of them have never been successful in life and are failures at home so they try to take over the church. They maneuver in dark hallways and have covert meetings to seek to overthrow the God given structure. They try to stack business meetings with people who haven’t been in church in years.
They hold their money. Knuckleheads vote with their pocketbooks. They think holding their money will punish the preacher or the leadership. It might hinder ministry, but ultimately the Knucklehead will answer to God for what he has done with God’s money. Nobody gets away with anything when it comes to robbing God.
They organize church factions and splits. Officially or unofficially, they find ways to siphon off enough people to start a new church of ‘like minded people.’ I remember the story of one Knucklehead who happened to be a popular Southern Baptist Evangelist. He got the attitude, ‘I know better than my pastor.’ Although his pastor was one of the most respected leaders in his convention, this evangelist went on a ‘supra-spiritual ego trip.’ He refused to listen to counsel. Eventually, he pulled hundreds of people out of the church and started his own church. His church ‘grew’ initially. Today it’s dying. Rev. Knucklehead Evangelist who knew better has moved on, the people he took with him now have a dying church.
Let me chase a rabbit here. Churches can start one of two ways. They can be birthed with the blessing of another church or they can be the result of a church split. There’s a difference between a church started as a mission with the blessings of another church and one started by Knuckleheads who will not submit to authority.
The Knucklehead church may grow initially, but eventually, they will turn on each other. These churches have experienced an illegitimate birth. God is not their father and they are not the bride of Christ. Their motives are not pure. Their agenda is not to fulfill the Great Commission. The weed may grow overnight, but the seeds of destruction have been planted. Growth is not synonymous with the anointing of God. The devil can grow churches, too. He has Brother Knucklehead leading his mission board.
One other word here, Knuckleheads never reach the lost in significant numbers. They baptize by accident. Their idea of church growth is getting members from other churches to join their church. They don’t care about evangelism, they just want numbers and hides and the best hides are the ones they can steal.
Knuckleheads will always be with us. They work to infiltrate churches and Sunday School. We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices. When we see a Knucklehead at work, we should point it out. The devil hates the light. He dwells in darkness, let’s expose him. Pastors, stand up to the Knuckleheads, all they can do is fire you. Better to be fired for standing for the truth than to cave into a Knucklehead and lose the approval of God.
The remnant needs to pray that God will protect her church from Knuckleheads. The church needs to get back to church discipline. Be not afraid of removing a Knucklehead. If they don’t repent, give them the ‘or else.’
One of the best decisions I’ve made in the last fifteen years was handing a person their church letter on the spot when he wouldn’t repent of an offensive act. I decided a long time ago, this old gospel ship is not going to be overrun by rats. The Knuckleheads will always be with us, but no church should feel obligated to live with them.
© Michael Catt, 2005.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.