Here's the idea: everyone needs covering–a kind of spiritual protection against the storms of life. If someone moves out from under covering, (as in leaving a particular church, or more specifically a particular leader), they somehow become vulnerable to demonic attack and are likely to end up with all kinds of problems. House churches are especially vulnerable because they don't have any kind of covering–no one who has spiritual authority over them. Their leaders don't answer to anyone.
The idea of covering is totally non-Scriptural! The only reference to covering of this kind is the story of Ruth and Boaz where Ruth asks Boaz to extend the borders of his garment over her. It's very far-fetched to apply this to church leadership.
As Frank Viola says, I think in Reimagining Church, it is extraordinary that when Paul writes to the people in Corinth addressing a serious moral problem in the church, he does not ask the leadership of the church to deal with it. One would have expected him to ask the elders to handle the situation. Instead, he addresses the whole body and anticipates they will deal with the problem.
Jesus is the authority to whom the church answers!
(For those interested to explore further, I came across this article by Jon Zens looking at the topic of authority by examining exousia, the Greek word for authority)
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16 replies on “Who covers a simple/organic church?”
Excellent Point! Truth like this needs to be spoken from the rooftops and hilltops!
There is too much ‘religious speak’ that has no Biblical basis, and this article shines God’s light on one of those falsehoods.
Johnny, It’s such a manipulative and pervasive falsehood too, I think in part, born out of a leader’s insecurity, We long ago decided that if anyone wanted to leave something we were involved in that it would be with our blessing and we would do everything we could to facilitate an easy transition for them.
Felicity, thanks for the link to the article by Jon Zens.
Jesus is the only authority. The way we cover people is interceding for them, not lording it over them.
Do u have a link to the article by Jon Zens?
Good word once again. At the same time, we really need each other. Somewhere between being “covered” by a particular leader, and never accounting for one’s practices, beliefs, etc., there is the precious admonition, “Do not neglect meeting together, but encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching,” ((Heb 10:25) and right along with it “submit yourselves to one another.” (Eph 5:21). So many have been hurt by the wrong kind of “covering,” bet others have been wounded by charismatic personalities who are not accountable to anyone. It would seem we are ALL called to be accountable to one another, from the so-called “apostle” to the foot washer.
Misunderstanding covering has caused a lot of confusion in our lives, especially during our time with a parachurch organization and trying to write articles. I felt at times like this ‘lone ranger’ doing his own thing, no one church or organization owning me :-).
Another topic that I would like to see posted would be “local church” as opposed to “the church at…”. There is about as much confusion on this one.
Speaking of covering, what do you think of this? When someone tells you that they are planning to start a new group and you say great , you are welcome to still visit at your old group , but I ask that you make the new one your primary focus , and the person says I can’t agree to that, that is the covering teaching and thinks you are trying to control them? I thought people were to connect with a spiritual family and pour time into deepening relationships rather than see how many fellowships they can go to. Am I wrong? I know I can’t control people, but is it ok for me to ask someome why they are coming to the group to see if we are on the same page and can truly walk together?
Here’s the link to the article by Jon Zens: http://www.batteredsheep.com/servanthood.html
Robin, agreed. Accountability is different altogether.
Roger, can you fill me in more on the difference between the local church and “the church at…” It’s not a distinction I’m aware of–or maybe I don’t quite understand what you are referring to. Thanks.
Jim, it sounds like that person has been hurt by covering teaching in the past. Is the relationship good enough that you can enquire more about this?
I also think there’s a difference when someone starts a new group, especially if it is with not-yet-believers or brand new believers. It would be a way for the old group to start reaching out, and I think it would be fine for the person to do both for a while.
Maybe I don’t fully understand the situation.
Sorry Felicity. I failed to check back; glad I did. In Central and Eastern Europe, what is recognized today are those denominations that have been historic (i.e. Baptists, Lutherans, various Pentecostal). They are the “local church”, it seems. Only they or a parachurch ministry that recognizes them qualify as “covering”.
Joyce and I were with the latter for 2.5 years in Hungary, and still are closely associated with them. Recently,some of the staff became associated with an apostolic work in a nearby town that met Sundays as a fellowship, but multiplied itself through meeting in homes during the week.
It was not a “local church” and did not set well with the “local churches”. In our parachurch organization, it certainly did not set well with some on the ministry board when some of the staff started attending. They were in for big problems, though the town has other protestant churches. It was really part of the church at…
In the former Communist nations and maybe west of Vienna, the term “local church” is a big deal. In the U.S. there is a bit of this as well, especially regarding tithing. Your post on elders answered somewhat this dilemma.
Roger, thanks for clarifying. It’s not a situation or distinction that I have come across here in the States. It’s very sad when churches cannot let people go–it implies a kind of control that is unhealthy.
Felicity, thanks for the link to the article by Jon Zens.
I believe that our authority arises out of our walk….. our obedience to the Holy Spirit. This obedience gives us a moral authority. It doesn’t seduce, force, coerce people to obey, make a big show or lord it over the flock in any way. it comes alongside, shows by example, and the power comes from the Holy Spirit. Whereas on the other hand, a leadership based upon position is not about authority, but about power. Therefore positional hierarchy usurps the role of the Holy Spirit and therefore, it’s authority is illegitimate. Covering is one of the tools used by positional hierarchies to force people into compliance. Leaders are supposed to equip the saints, to empower them to go out and find their purpose in God, not to pacify and disenfranchise them.
I totally agree!! And people instinctively recognize and respond to true spiritual authority–they don’t have to be told that’s what they should do. Thanks for your comments.