ONE Master Part 4

Jesus was different, very different. There was no one like Him, and He came to change that. Jesus came to transform the norm. When He unequivocally declared, "Follow Me!" there was no hesitation. Jesus conveyed the message that each one of us has received the same abundant measure of GRACE AND TRUTH that He embodied.

"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." John 1:17-18

Jesus did not get paid, he did not take up a collection, and he did not benefit materially from his ministry. By Grace, Jesus gave up everything. In return, He received the full inheritance of all of creation. This means that Jesus now rules and reigns over everything everywhere by Grace.

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

Jesus, according to the Bible, now sits on the Throne of Grace, reigning with our Father. The Bible declares that we are with Jesus on the throne, and here on earth simultaneously, yet totally empowered by God's Grace. We are His co-labors empowered to fulfill His ministry by Grace, the same Grace He had to endure the cross.

"And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'" Matthew 8:20 

Jesus led a profoundly different life than contemporary professional pastors, teachers, and ministers. He didn't receive a book deal, paycheck, commission structure, or pursue material benefits from His ministry. Instead, He willingly relinquished everything—His inheritance, home, business, family, friends, reputation, and even His life.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." - 2 Corinthians 8:9

It's essential to recall that Jesus also left Heaven to come to Earth. In return for His humility, surrender, and obedience to His Father’s will, Jesus received the full inheritance of all creation and now reigns over everything everywhere. Jesus humbled himself, gave up everything, and received much more in return. 

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9 

Conversely, modern-day professional clergy receive their inheritance weekly when they cash their paychecks. Getting paid for their time serving the Kingdom of God is a choice. Their salary is their only reward, as they trade treasures in Heaven for mere trinkets on Earth, akin to Esau and his bowl of stew.

"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4

Overturning The Money Changer’s Tables

Jesus' actions of overturning the money changers' tables and releasing the sacrificial animals in the temple were powerful demonstrations of his indignation at the corruption of the sacred space.

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." Galatians 5:13

Twice, Jesus cleansed the temple, once to begin His ministry and then again right towards the end. Jesus revealed His deep concern for the integrity of his Father's house of prayer and worship.

“And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;" John 2:15

In overturning the tables, Jesus condemned the exploitation of the temple for financial gain. He rebuked the merchants who had turned a holy place into a marketplace, prioritizing profit over reverence. By releasing the sacrificial animals, he symbolically liberated the temple from the bondage of greed and commerce, restoring its true purpose as a sanctuary for divine worship.

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." Matthew 21:12

These actions highlight Jesus' unwavering commitment to righteousness and his intolerance of hypocrisy. He challenged the religious authorities and disrupted the status quo to uphold the sanctity of his Father's house.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

His righteous anger serves as a powerful reminder that God's presence cannot be bought or sold, and that true worship requires purity of heart and intention.

"Then they *came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching." Mark 11:15-16

In today's context, Jesus' actions in the temple serve as a cautionary tale against the commercialization and commodification of spirituality.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

They call us to examine our motives and practices within our places of worship, ensuring that they remain sanctuaries of prayer and reverence, free from the influences of materialism and self-interest.

Lack of Scriptural Support for The One-Man Show

With its centralized authority and professional clergy, the modern Christian church diverges from the early biblical model.

"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2-3

This departure from scriptural teachings can foster spiritual complacency and hierarchical control, straying from authentic discipleship.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

The lack of explicit biblical endorsement, combined with warnings of dire consequences for deviation, emphasizes the need to reevaluate church organization and leadership.

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 5:10

Despite the prevalence of the modern-day Christian church structure, there is no clear biblical mandate for its establishment. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find instructions to appoint professional clergy, establish hierarchical leadership, or construct elaborate church buildings.

"Then I heard another voice from heaven say: 'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.'" Revelation 18:4

Instead, the early church operated as a decentralized community of believers guided by love, mutual support, and the Holy Spirit's leading. The Bible warns against straying from the foundational teachings and practices of the early church.

"Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.' When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened." Acts 5:1-11

The Book of Acts accounts of Ananias and Sapphira poignantly illustrate the dire consequences of deceit and hypocrisy within the Christian community. Their tragic fate underscores the seriousness with which God views deviations from His established order and principles, emphasizing the urgency of adhering to the early biblical model.

"Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

Adopting a hierarchical church structure often departs from the core principles of authentic discipleship.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Instead of fostering spiritual growth and community engagement, this model can foster dependency on professional clergy, spiritual apathy among congregants, and a focus on institutional maintenance rather than Kingdom advancement.

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:8-12

Given the lack of biblical support and the warnings against deviating from God's principles, there is an urgent need to reevaluate the modern-day Christian church structure.

"Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Revelation 2:5

Churches must prioritize biblical fidelity, community empowerment, and the Holy Spirit's leading over adherence to traditional organizational models.

"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Embracing a decentralized approach to church leadership and governance aligns with the early biblical model and can foster greater authenticity, vibrancy, and effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission, leading to spiritual growth and community engagement.

"Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

The Consequence: State of the American Church

The American church's state is characterized by an ineffective structure, primarily due to the centralization of power in the hands of a few “paid clergy” who prioritize their employment rights and personal interests over the Gospel message.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

The modern centralized church has led to a departure from authentic Christ-centered ministry, resembling more of a business model than a genuine expression of faith IN CHRIST.

"The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?" Jeremiah 5:31

As a result, the American church is shrinking, while underground grassroots churches in countries like Iran, China, India, and Russia are experiencing significant growth.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24

The link between the decline of the American church and the dominance of paid clergy lies in the distortion of Biblical principles, particularly regarding self-denial, surrendering personal rights, and aligning with God's will.

"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Centralized power within the American church has resulted in a hierarchical structure where a very small minority of professional clergy dictate the direction and message of the church.

"Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction." Proverbs 29:18

These clergy members, often hired employees, prioritize their own careers, employment rights, and retirement benefits over the core tenets of the Gospel, leading to a departure from authentic ministry focused on Christ's teachings.

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers." Matthew 23:8

This distortion of priorities has created a church environment more akin to a corporate business model, where the message is controlled and tailored to maintain the status quo rather than challenge FOLLOWERS of CHRIST to live out the radical teachings of Jesus.

"Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'" Matthew 21:12-13

The centralization of power and control within the American church has led to a departure from authentic ministry and contributed to its downfall in several ways.

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32

Firstly, it has stifled innovation and creativity, leading to a lack of relevance and effectiveness in reaching modern-day society.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Luke 16:13

Secondly, it has created a disconnect between the church and its members, resulting in apathy and disillusionment among congregants.

"For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers." Proverbs 11:14

Thirdly, it has hindered the church's ability to effectively respond to societal issues and challenges, further diminishing its impact and influence. These negative consequences highlight the urgent need for a change in the American church's power structure.

"What then is my reward? That in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel." 1 Corinthians 9:18

In contrast, underground grassroots churches in countries like China, India, Iran, and Russia flourish precisely because they operate outside the constraints of centralized control.

"You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

These churches prioritize authentic discipleship, community, and mission, embodying the selfless spirit of early Christianity. By embracing decentralized structures and empowering every believer to participate in ministry, these churches are experiencing exponential growth and impact.

"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." 1 Timothy 6:9-10

The call to action for the American church is clear: it must 'come out of Babylon', metaphorically rejecting the corrupt and worldly systems that have infiltrated its structure.

This includes dismantling centralized power structures and returning to the foundational principles of self-denial, humility, and obedience to God's will.

"Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep." Isaiah 56:10

The American church can only reclaim its authenticity and relevance in today's society by embracing a decentralized, grassroots approach to ministry. This is not just a suggestion, but a necessary step for the American church to thrive once again.

The Impact of the “One-Man Show”

The "One-Man Show" church model, where one or two "Senior Pastors" dominate the local church's mission and voice, has had a profoundly negative impact on authentic Christian discipleship and spiritual formation, effectively undermining the very essence of what it means to follow Jesus.

In this model, the entire weight of leadership and decision-making rests on the shoulders of a select few individuals, often stifling diversity, creativity, and genuine community engagement within the congregation. Rather than fostering a culture of shared leadership and mutual accountability, the "One-Man Show" approach elevates a singular vision or agenda above all else, leaving little room for the Holy Spirit to move and guide the church collectively.

"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-12

Furthermore, this centralized model tends to prioritize the charisma and personality of the senior pastor(s) over cultivating a deep, transformative encounter with God. Instead of nurturing disciples rooted in Scripture, prayer, and authentic relationship with Christ, the focus may shift towards maintaining the leader(s)' influence and authority, potentially leading to spiritual stagnation and shallowness among the congregation.

The "One-Man Show" model creates an unhealthy dependency on the senior pastor(s), where individuals look to them as the sole source of spiritual guidance and validation. This dependency can hinder believers from developing their own personal relationship with God and discerning His voice for themselves, thereby impeding their growth in maturity and discernment.

"So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'" Acts 6:2-4

Moreover, the pressure on the pastor to maintain and increase church attendance can lead to performance-driven ministry and a focus on attracting crowds through entertaining programs or charismatic preaching, rather than fostering genuine spiritual growth and transformation.

Ultimately, the dominance of one or two individuals in shaping the church's mission and voice can lead to a loss of authenticity, diversity, and vitality within the body of believers. Instead of embodying the rich tapestry of gifts and perspectives present in the community, the church may become synonymous with its leaders' personalities and preferences, alienating those who do not align with the dominant narrative.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

To counteract the destructive impact of the "One-Man Show" model, churches must embrace a more collaborative and decentralized approach to leadership, where multiple voices are honored, and decision-making is shared among a team of spiritually mature individuals. By cultivating a culture of humility, transparency, and mutual submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, churches can reclaim their identity as vibrant, authentic communities of faith, dedicated to nurturing disciples who reflect the love and character of Christ.

The Underground Church in China is Growing

Estimating the "official" number of Christians in China is complex due to various factors, such as the church's underground nature and differing survey methodologies. While official government figures may suggest a smaller percentage, other surveys and analyses indicate a significantly higher number, with estimates ranging from around 20 million to possibly over 100 million.

"But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" Acts 5:29

Despite persecution and restrictions, the underground church in China (not approved by the Chinese Government) appears to be thriving and proliferating, fueled by grassroots movements and a strong sense of devotion among believers. This contrasts with some trends in the United States, where church attendance and religious affiliation have been declining in recent years.

"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Romans 12:4-5

The stark contrast between the freedom of Christians in China and the United States is intriguing and deeply thought-provoking. While Christians in the US enjoy legal protections and religious liberties, Christians in China often face persecution and risk imprisonment or worse for practicing their faith openly. However, the vibrancy and resilience of the underground church in China suggest that despite the challenges, faith continues to flourish and spread. The same thing can be said for the Church in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

Next Steps

If you have read all four parts of "ONE Master," then consider yourself informed. You have been equipped and now you have a responsibility. You can shrug your shoulders and continue with the status quo, or you can be a part of the solution. The solution, I believe is to study the Scriptures and seek the Holy Spirit. Be willing to listen and obey. The Trinity will make this RIGHT, for they are FAITHFUL. Our part will be to surrender and obey the Holy Spirit. Each one of us will most likely be given a different task and be led uniquely. Believe that you will be given the Grace to fulfill the will of God, and then follow Jesus!

End of Part 4

ONE Master Part 1

ONE Master Part 2

ONE Master Part 3

ONE Master Part 4

About the Author:
Craig Rogers
Craig Rogers

KINGDOM Empowered CEO and CoFounder

Craig Rogers is a visionary leader and serial...

Craig Rogers is a visionary leader and serial entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience in the behavioral health industry. His...