I have seen a disturbance in the holy water. People come to the altar to worship, but who are they worshipping. I heard a story recently from another youth pastor (thanks Jon).
There was a young boy who decided to become a Christian, and give his life to Jesus. He was very excited to tell people and one of the first he wanted to tell was the worship pastor. He walked up to him and excitedly said, "I gave my life to you today!" The pastor was a little taken aback, "do you mean you gave your life to Jesus today?" "Yeah, that's what I said, I gave my life to you." The worship pastor was a little confused and asked, "son, do you think I am Jesus?" "Well, you are aren't you?" the boy said, "I mean...we sing to you every Sunday."
This is a somewhat humorous (although disturbing) misunderstanding. But, I think I have seen this type of confused worship in many ways. Churches grow because people like the preaching, or because the worship pastor is so great, and I don't really think that is why churches should grow. I don't think most pastors set out trying to make their church grow because of them, they set out to make followers of Jesus and their personality winds up drawing people in.
You see this in some of the huge mega-churches like Saddleback, where people are drawn in by Rick Warren, or Mars Hill (Mark Driscoll) or Bethlehem Baptist (John Piper) or Mars Hill Bible Church (Rob Bell) or Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen). But you also see it to a smaller degree in other churches. Many people in our church would say they come to our church because of our pastor. I am not saying this to be critical of these Pastors or of their churches, I am just observing a phenomenon in our culture.
This type of understanding of leadership can be dangerous and misleading, because people begin to put their pastor too close to God and sometimes those pastors do not represent God very well, and most of us have a problem with power.
I wonder if it's time for churches to be more clear about where the leadership of their community comes from. In some way we need to