Reconstructing Faith: The Question of Authority 

How to use this content- Though this content is different than Momentum’s normal publication, we want to encourage your ministry team to listen to this thought-provoking podcast and use the enclosed talking points to develop a plan to engage those who are deconstructing their faith. 

In this episode, Trevin Wax, vice president of research and resource development at the North American Mission Board, discusses abuse in leadership. At the beginning of this podcast Trevin plays for us a recording of a pastor in Oklahoma who uses the pulpit as a time for personal church discipline.

How many of us cringed at the excerpt? Yet, how many of us (deep inside) wished that we could have a “come to Jesus moment” with our congregants? Maybe we would not use our sermon time to exercise church discipline, but we can’t deny the reality that as ministers we wrestle with the question of authority all the time. When do we need to be bold, courageous, and rightly exercise our God-given authority? How do we know when we are abusing our leadership authority? What are the checks and balances? Is it in our structure or polity? How do we evaluate our leadership with biblical accountability? 

Trevin and Vance Pitman, Founding Pastor of Hope Church Las Vegas and the incoming President of Send Network, pointed out how this issue is pervasive in all kinds of structures and polity and goes beyond our organization. It is a heart issue.  

The amplification and mass distribution of this issue does not help either. Trevin’s discussion with Vance pointed out how the prevalent and widespread incidences of pastors and ministry leaders created a culture of overcorrection and fear. This leads many leaders to do one of two things, double down on their domineering nature of leadership or become numb, stagnant and falter into an apathic spirit. How do we counter this culture? How do we help our members not confuse good, spiritual, biblical authority with abusive authority when exercising church discipline?  

Jesus’ authority and leadership was sacrificial in nature, personal in character, gentle in substance, bold in order, and loving in essence. 

In the interview with Jonathan Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks, he points out how authority and having dominion is a part of the imago dei (image of God). The purpose of man being made in the image of God was to, in a sense, author and facilitate life as God intended. Does our exercised authority create and multiply life, flourishing, and thriving? 

Dr. Taylor Turkington, director of, highlights how our leadership is a delegated authority. Our leadership requires biblical and godly wisdom for evaluation whether the evaluation comes from scripture, elders, ministry co-workers, etc. Who is watching us? Who is speaking truth into our lives as we lead? What are ways our congregants can provide feedback to us in a civil and healthy way? How do we format our evaluations in a way to test and see that the “fruit of the Spirit” is being realized in our spheres of influence? 

Though this issue is multifaceted and complex in nature, remember to lead like Jesus. Jesus’ authority and leadership was sacrificial in nature, personal in character, gentle in substance, bold in order, and loving in essence. 

Is our authority and leadership like Jesus? 

Content used with permission by Trevin Wax (Vice President of resources and research at North American Mission Board- NAMB)



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