“Christ is the head of the church” is one of the most overused and underappreciated doctrine I’ve ever come across.
A church leader wants to do something with the building other than serving the members. He actually wants to allow the Indonesian maids/domestic helpers in Hong Kong to make use of the building so that the church can be welcoming to foreigners. The church has turned into an uproar. “You know we gave offering for this place,” yelled on parishioner. “We should vote whether we can let these people gather here,” yelled another. “Maybe we should get a new senior pastor who will not do this kind of ministry,” yelled a third.
Lest anyone thinks that this is an exclusively Asian behavior, it is not so. One Chinese-American pastor I know has rented from a white church for years. The Chinese church was growing like crazy, and the white church, sadly, was not. As a result, the white church pastor felt more and more threatened. In his resentment, he not only cut off his fellowship with the Chinese pastor, but also raised the rent in a tremendous way to increase his church’s own offering. Thankfully, the Chinese congregation has found a new building to buy, but the story really doesn’t have to end this way. The two churches can work together. A few people told me that perhaps race was also an issue. I don’t really know about that.
What is the common theme between these two instances? I would say that the culprits have too much of a sense of ownership. The first story shows that the members think that they own the church. The second story indicates the pastor to have too much pride over the success of his own work to bless the success of someone else. The self is a terrible thing when it takes over God’s place. Jesus was not the head of both churches, but the Bible clearly says that Jesus IS the head of the church. The church is never “ours.”
If we take ownership of the church, we have taken the deed of the building from Jesus who originally owns our church. If we still have such hang-ups, we should either confess that we want to just outright rob Jesus of his place and stop using our cliché doctrine or we can give back the deed. We have a choice to make, but we cannot pretend.