Last week, I attended a day-long seminar with professor and author Kyle Strobel, hosted by the 3Strand Church Network that we are a part of. Kyle recently wrote a book on power and weakness in the kingdom of God, and the seminar was centered around that topic. This is an extremely relevant topic for the church today, not least because we often get it completely wrong. Here are some of the nuggets I took away (quotes are approximate).

  1. The way we push for spiritual gifts has greatly undermined the biblical view of power. We don’t think we should serve in our weaknesses. “We give people inventories to map out their natural gifts so they don’t have to minister in their weakness. You don’t get to determine your strengths and weaknesses, and then only serve in your strengths!” God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  2. The ends don’t justify the means when it comes to power in the church. Advancing the gospel doesn’t justify anything and everything that accomplishes that goal. “You can proclaim he gospel in a way that is antithetical to the gospel.”
  3. “It’s shocking how many people want to attach themselves to people who are powerful.” Why do we defend those in power, especially pastors, when there are clearly toxic views of power at play? We justify toxic power by claiming someone is “anointed” or a gifted preacher or leader.
  4. “Jesus shows no interest in our greatness.”
  5. “The soul of the church has been warped from within.” We think we can embrace worldly views of power and influence and success for the sake of the gospel, and not be affected by the world.
  6. Some of us are too afraid to speak the truth about the church and its failures honestly; some of us are two excited to speak the truth about the church. We need to be able to both name the truth about the church AND be faithful. We don’t need to fear the results to God or the gospel by speaking truthfully about the bad things that happen within the church and among its leaders.
  7. “The way we respond to calamities tells us a lot about our view of power. How do we hear God answer ‘no’ to prayers for the removal of weakness, calamity?”

For more on this, check out Stobel’s book The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It.