The subject at hand is extremely controversial and the ramifications of such an article will no doubt cause me open contempt, disrespect and possibly the label of ‘heretic.’ In spite of the inevitable results, I feel it necessary, yea vital, to present readers with a Biblical perspective on the role and authority of the Pastor. It is in no way my desire to cause division or discord among the brethren in this land but to present the truth for those who will hear.

The Catholic Church has long been known for its ability to manipulate its members through fear and threats, allowing those in leadership to effectively control the people and their commitment to the cause. The power associated with the pope is beyond belief. Masses submit to his every wish, convinced that to disobey or even disagree, is to fight against God Himself. A similar ploy has entered into the conservative churches of our land. A pastor will exalt himself to a place of power and demand the allegiance of his people instead of turning their hearts toward God and exalting His power and authority.

All men are sinners

It does not matter how ‘good’ your pastor or church leadership may appear, all have sinned. There are those pastors who would have their congregations believe that they have reached the state of sinless perfection, and therefore are a perfect example of holiness and wisdom, and that is simply bogus. The Pastor does not gain some ‘special’ entrance into the presence of God; He comes before the same throne of grace as all believers, and through the same person – Jesus Christ. The Pastor may preach from an elevated platform on Sunday but that is not an indication of a spiritual superiority in God’s hierarchy. Pastors who seek the praise and accolades of men are not fit to fulfil the shepherd’s role. Surely a man who is ever broken over his sin, and has an understanding of the holiness of God is the only suitable candidate for leading and shepherding God’s people.

‘…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Psalm 14:3

‘Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?’ Prov.20:9

‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ 1 John 1:8

The church is Christ’s

‘…Christ is the head of the church: and is the Saviour of the body.’ Ephesians 5:23

‘And He [Christ] is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church…’ Colossians 1:17-18

‘And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church.’ Ephesians 1:22

If Scripture were not so clear on this subject, I might look around today and be confused about who has the ultimate ownership and rulership of the church. The way some Pastors parade about, introducing bylaws and setting non-biblical standards and assuming the role of ‘Pope for the people’ is appalling, and is in total opposition to the clearly outlined role of the pastor. To assume a role of authority in the church that has not been given by God is theft. If I instruct my congregation to obey standards and practices that God has not commanded I become the ‘master of God’s people,’ and in turn teach them to follow me instead of the Lord. How many congregations in our land follow a confident, oratorical, dictatorial, ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ pastor instead of Christ and His Word as the final authorities in their lives?

It is the message, not the man

‘Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.’ Hebrews 13:7

Commenting on the above verse, John Gill writes:

“Christ’s church is a kingdom, and He is King in it; pastors of churches are subordinate governors; who rule well when they rule not in an arbitrary way, according to their own wills, but according to the laws of Christ, with all faithfulness, prudence and diligence.”

The pastor, like you and I, is a man saved by grace. He has not been imbued with some special ability (albeit there are gifts dispensed by the Holy Spirit which differ – Romans 12:6), nor does he have some supernatural power over men which is of his own energies. The pastor finds his authority solely in the Word of God. His counselling and preaching must be grounded in the Scriptures if he is to exercise the authority that God has given him. The pastor is a man who is to be given to prayer and the studying of the Word. It is not his job to select the colour and pattern of the curtains in the auditorium. Nor should he concern himself with counselling men on the type of vehicle they should purchase for their family. I know pastors who busy themselves with all the tangible and temporal aspects of church life when they ought to be focusing on the urgent spiritual and eternal matters at hand. His job is to preach the Word and passionately pursue God thereby leaving an example for his people. The following ought to form the pastor’s chief ambition and desire:

‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ John 3:30

‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21

The pastor will fail you

Nobody is exempt from the effects of sin. One of the great dilemmas in church today is the expectation on the pastor to do everything right. If the congregation is not careful to remember that the shepherd is only a man, they will inevitably and subconsciously promote him to ‘perfection.’ This will be the great downfall of that church and will result in heartache and discouragement when it is found out that the pastor cannot meet those impossible expectations. This does not give license to the pastor to enjoy the pleasures of sin but it does remove from him the unattainable standard of perfection. A humble and honest leader will acknowledge his own inability to perform his God given role, and will openly admit that he is the chief of sinners, and unworthy of such a responsibility.

‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.’ Psalm 118:8

‘Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.’ Jeremiah 17:5

‘…the Lord thy God…..He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6


There is much more to cover in this topic and I have not yet had the opportunity to address the qualifications of those in church leadership, the pastor on judgment day and the pastor in relationship to his family. Perhaps in time the Lord will lead me to write articles regarding those topics.

In conclusion, it is obvious from the pages of Scripture that God desires a pastor to lead by example, nurturing and caring for his people. When the time comes for him to discipline, confront and challenge, he must find his authority in the pages of Scripture. God give us pastors who love God supremely, act with honesty, humility and integrity, lead by example, and find the basis of all preaching, teaching and counselling rooted in the pages of Scripture.

Dear pastor, it is better to stay silent on a matter in which thou hast no biblical foundation or word from on high, than to speak and find thyself defying the very will of God.

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About Daniel Kriss

Daniel is pastor at Mount Cathedral Community Baptist Church in Taggerty, Victoria. Daniel has studied theology and has been involved in itinerant preaching since 1999. In 2006, Daniel founded SWAT Camp which helps develop young leaders for Christian ministry. Daniel and his wife Jessica live in Melbourne. You can contact Daniel at


  1. Benjamin Molesworth 2 March, 2012 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Don’t come across this as often as you may have. It is very specific to some, not even all of the IB churches. Probably could have mentioned that a leader under God is someone who has become a servant. Otherwise a good article. Would like to see the subject of Who is a Pastor, and what qualifies them.

  2. PJ 2 March, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

    A wise man once counselled me that when someone says something you find hard to believe then ask them for evidence. While I understand the general points being made in this post, I would dearly love to see some evidence for the claims contained in it for without evidence this post merely smears the reputation of God’s servants, the great majority of whom I suspect are trying their very best to please Him.

    Please support the following claims –

    1) “A similar ploy has entered into the conservative churches of our land. A pastor will exalt himself to a place of power and demand the allegiance of his people instead of turning their hearts toward God and exalting His power and authority.”

    2) “There are those pastors who would have their congregations believe that they have reached the state of sinless perfection, and therefore are a perfect example of holiness and wisdom…”

    3) “The way some Pastors parade about, introducing bylaws and setting non-biblical standards and assuming the role of ‘Pope for the people’ is appalling…”

  3. Daniel Kriss 2 March, 2012 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    PJ Thanks for your comments as always! I appreciate your comment regarding the need for evidence. My answer to this is that those who are familiar with the ‘Pope/pastor paradigm’ need no proof because they see it weekly. For those who are not in this position – PRAISE GOD! It would be wrong for me to publicly slander individuals in a forum such as this and for this reason I will not support my claims by playing the name-game. The pupose of this article is to encourage us pastors to live according to the Word and to challenge those who would seek their own glory and power instead of the Lord’s. I in no way wish to smear the reputation God’s servants for I am one of them and condemn myself by the very article I have written. As always, the message the preacher presents must first be realised in his own personal life. Hopefully you understand what I mean.

  4. PJ 2 March, 2012 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    No I don’t understand what you mean.

    You have claimed that the ‘Pope/pastor’ paradigm has “entered the conservative churches of our land” and that there are “pastors who would have their congregations believe that they have reached the state of sinless perfection.” You’ve claimed that there are pastors “parading about…assuming the role of Pope for the people.” These are very serious accusations and if you cannot or are not prepared to support such claims with evidence you shouldn’t make them in.

    Of course it would be wrong for you to “publicly slander individuals,” but by making these unsubstantiated claims you potentially slander every pastor in conservative/IB circles.

    I really think that no individual has the right to speak as you have about and to the pastors in conservative/IB churches.

    “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4)

  5. Kez 2 March, 2012 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    In my life, PJ, I too have seen proof to support all three claims you mentioned. I have personally heard Pastors state emphatically that they have reached sinless perfection and literally demand others live up to their example of wisdom and holiness – even to the point of separating from others who they perceive to not live up to their example. I could name numerous pastors who demand allegiance as if they were god and who set up laws for their congregation – and even other congregations too – based on their personal preferences and standards which they claim are from God but have no biblical backing for except some remote out of context verse in the middle of Hezekiah 3:12b. From my experience, pastors who set themselves up as pope for the people are fairly common in our churches… Although I dare say there are good pastors out there too who walk in all Humbleness before God, my point is that all three claims are definitely happening out there in some of our churches…

  6. Daniel Kriss 2 March, 2012 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    PJ, sorry for causing you offence. Truly this is not the intention. I am certainly not slandering every pastor in IB circles and I am not even sure that I made mention of the IB movement???! How good it would be if every pastor (myself included) took inventory of this thought and tested their ‘leadership style’ by the pages of Scripture. If an article as bold as this drives men to consider their ways than it has acccomplished its purpose! Sufficient to say that the evidence exists in Kez’s comments and the many others who have responded to me privately agreeing with these thoughts. I am not willing to name names and I can therefore not fulfil your desire to see proof. Sorry bro. Dan.

    • Jeremy Crooks 2 March, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      I do believe we need to be careful not to tar all fundamentalists with the same brush. Speaking as one who has emerged from fundamentalism and experienced pope-like behavior from a pastor, I know what you say Daniel can be true. I just pray it is in the minority of IB churches and not the majority.

      I am now part of a conservative (but not fundamentalist) church and it is not at all pope like.

  7. Steve 2 March, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I would agree with others that this post paints all pastors of independent churches (the intended audience of this blog)as authoritarian and holding atrocious doctrinal heresy, i.e. Wesleyan style sinless perfection.
    In reality, this would apply to a small minority, indeed this is the first time I have heard of the doctrine of sinless perfection being taught in independent baptist churches in this country.
    What is far more common is believers who are unwiling to submit to any sort of authority in the church, even though the Bible explicitly teaches that authority is given by God himself. I have personally heard people who do not understand biblical authority make the very same accusations that Daniel lists in his blogs, even though the pastors they accuse of being authoritarian are just trying to serve God as leaders of the local church.

    Can I suggest that rather than just attacking the negative aspects of fundamentalism, you instead could address the issues by stating the biblical view, for instance, instead of saying how bad pastors can be, you could look at the qualifications for pastors and elders, and what it means for a pastor to have authority and leadership in the local church. Reading Infocus sometimes seems like it is just a sounding board for disgruntled fundamentalists and former independent baptists, and it is quite discouraging to read. Personally, I would rather read a Christian blog that focussed on theological issues.

  8. Aussie Evangelist 2 March, 2012 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Just a suggestion.

    Perhaps “In-Focus” might consider changing its name to something like:


    Just a suggestion.

  9. PJ 2 March, 2012 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    @Aussie Evangelist – not helpful.

  10. Alen 2 March, 2012 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    @The Hulewiczs“Aussie Evangelist”. Nice to see you’re still here. Somewhat ironic that you’re whining in a post that’s (from what you’ve said) “whining”.

  11. Daniel kriss 2 March, 2012 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you all for your feedback today especially PJ and Steve. Although it may not look or sound like it to you, I am simply presenting articles which the Lord leads me to write. I am not looking to pull apart ministry and I agree that an article on submission to authority would also be helpful and I will pray about it. My great concern for this land is in the area of leadership, for this is where problems begin in a church. And my brother evangelist, thank you for your thought and i am sorry if this really is how it appears! Steve – I am looking forward to writing the theological themes in time to come. I do however, believe that the root of a topic such as this is a theological problem! God bless you all!

  12. Jason Harris 2 March, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately, I could give dozens of examples to support these claims. That is sad to me. I understand your heart (I think) Daniel when you write something like this… there is an agony of soul that comes from watching helplessly while the sheep are harmed by those who should be protecting them.


    I’d be interested to hear what percentage (roughly!) of InFocus articles you perceive to come across like that. My perception is that it is a fairly small percentage, but then I read the article above as being relatively mild compared to the things I’ve experienced in the movement so my perception may be quite different.

  13. Jason Harris 2 March, 2012 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    @Daniel, My understanding of what you are saying regarding sinless perfection is not that they openly teach that it is possible, but rather that they teach that it is not possible, but then behave as if they had come pretty stinkin’ close to it. Have I misunderstood you there?

  14. Daniel Kriss 2 March, 2012 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Jason, you have spoken truth. I never intended to accuse pastors of teaching the idea of sinless perfection, quite the opposite in fact. You have understood me perfectly.
    Thanks for the feedback Jason and for not reading into the article but taking it at face value. God bless.

  15. ConcernedObserver 2 March, 2012 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Jason , Daniel “What?” Daniel blogs states that “there are some Pastors who would have their congregations believe they have reached the state of sinless perfection….” How can they do this if they don’t teach it? I’m glad you two understand each other because I certainly don’t!

  16. Steve 2 March, 2012 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    @Jason, I think every one of Daniel’s blogs have been negative and certainly yourself and Jeremy Crooks have at times had the same attitude. If you want me to put a number to it, I would perceive 1 in 8 posts lately have had this negativity, both explicitly stated and implicitly.

    But that is beside the point. It is easy to be negative about issues, but it is harder and takes more work to actually look at what the Bible says.
    For instance, instead of this negative blog on pastors, it would have been much more edifying to do a word study on the words pastor, elder and bishop, looking at the Greek words. Or better yet, exegete the passages on the qualifications of a pastor.

  17. Jason Harris 2 March, 2012 at 10:47 pm - Reply


    Thanks for the response. Here is a list of Daniel’s posts at InFocus ( By my count, only four are what might be considered negative. He’s written posts on the holiness of God, Christ centred preaching, the benefits of God’s Word, etc.

    I agree that we have to be careful to not just address the negative but also to focus on positive explanation/proclamation of the truth, but there is a time to address issues that are negative as well. If the movement was addressing these in their own blogs, magazines, and conferences, that would be one thing. But that just doesn’t happen very often. This is one of the few places where you’ll hear it straight without it being shut down. If I kept a file of all the times Fundamentalist leaders had TRIED to shut it down, it would be thick.

    I understand when people read these things and find them distasteful. That is, I suppose, because those people have not had the misfortune of landing in these situations. But imagine being someone who has experienced these sorts of things. There are wrongs that need to be challenged. I am thankful that Daniel has the courage, and is willing to pay the price (and believe me, there is a high price), to challenge them. Does he do it perfectly? No. I know that I do it very imperfectly. I struggle to say what needs to be said the right way, with grace, but also with searing precision. I know I miss the mark on that far too often. I would hope Daniel would be able to give a similar testimony.

    I do appreciate your feedback about the site in general and hope that you’ll be patient with me as I try to keep it heading in a healthy direction.

    Grace to you.

  18. Matt Leys 2 March, 2012 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    I would have to agree that Daniel’s posts don’t beat around the bush, and, coming from a family / church of conservative independent Bible (read Baptist if you wish) background, I tend to feel a little defensive when I encounter criticism of the “movement” … even though that’s a very loose concept.

    However, that said, I do see some real warnings in a few of Daniel’s recent “negative” posts. Maybe some of the statements could be perceived as a little too blanket-like in nature, and if I were having a bad day when I read it I might feel a little judged, but I do think that he has identified some issues that IFB churches need to keep an eye on if trying to truly live Biblically.

    On this particular matter, Daniel was careful not to name specifics while others asked for examples to illustrate his statements. Maybe the link below will satisfy both?

    I have no reason to question the accuracy of the extracted quotes. I became aware of this teaching around the time that it occurred and maybe some others too know of the particular situation.

  19. Matt Leys 2 March, 2012 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    BTW, I very much look forward to the discussion suggested by a few relating to the qualifications of those in church leadership, the pastor on judgment day, the pastor in relationship to his family, etc.

  20. Jason Harris 2 March, 2012 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    @Matt, I was at the 2002 conference in Australia the article refers to. It was shocking and wrong. But the worst part is that I don’t think most people thought it was shocking or wrong.

  21. Jeremy 3 March, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    The comments regarding negative sentiments on some In Focus blogs can be valid. We must all be careful to keep a balance and perspective. It would be wrong for all to only post articles exposing error, just as it would be wrong for us to ignore errors we observe.

    I find it fascinating that – almost without exception – the ‘negative’ blogs are the ones that garner discussion. While the positive articles, largely do not receive comments. This tells me that the blogosphere is built on controversy and disagreement. The fact that comments are heavily weighted towards ‘negative’ articles may also make them seem more prevalent.

    Whether writing a blog or responding with comments, we should all seek to improve our art of writing. Where we have been less than gracious, let’s acknowledge that and seek to improve.


    – JC

  22. Matt Leys 3 March, 2012 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    @Jason, so everything that I’ve read and heard was as bad as it seemed?

    Are you aware of this teaching re-emerging anywhere in Australia over the last 10 years?

  23. Steve 3 March, 2012 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    @Jason, you are right, not all of Daniel’s posts are negative, but it just seems to me that lately many have been. Also, I think you are right about finding it distasteful because I have not been in a church (thanks be to God) like the ones you guys are always criticizing. I just find the constant criticism and negativity tiresome, both from fundamentalists and from those who have come out of fundamentalism.

    @Matt, that is a good example of abuse of authority, which is also incredibly bad theology as well. I heard about it back then as well, but then it seemed to have fizzled out, thankfully. I can’t believe people would fall for that kind of thing, yet knowing the kind of preaching that goes on at those fellowship meetings, it shouldn’t surprise me.

  24. Jason Harris 4 March, 2012 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    Hey, Sorry I’ve been distracted over the weekend.

    @Jeremy, “The blogosphere is built on controversy and disagreement” might be an overstatement… but it’s an important reality that those sorts of posts do tend to draw more attention in the blogosphere. Perhaps you might tackle that topic in a post sometime… (assuming this is Jeremy Crooks!).

    @Matt, What is reported in the link you gave is what was being promoted at that conference. While I’m sure some besides myself were bothered by it, it was not addressed/denounced publicly at the conference and his materials were up for sale throughout the conference. If my memory serves me correctly, he was an assistant pastor to a pastor who has spoken in Australia dozens of times and is scheduled to speak at upcoming Fundamentalist conferences in Australia.

    I’m not aware that this particular form of this error has been taught since that conference though. I could certainly give anecdotal evidence that the mentality is still common. At the end of the day, the way to ensure that this thinking cannot take root in Australia is to plainly teach a biblical view of man, sin, authority, leadership, etc. and to plainly rebuke error when necessary.

    @Steve, I’m thankful that your experiences have been good. That’s a blessing. And thanks for expressing your concern. We all need to be pulled back into balance at times and I certainly needed your comments.

    I think we need to be careful not to assume that just because someone has had a bad experience in one corner of Fundamentalism or writes critically of Fundamentalism that they have come out of Fundamentalism. Those who should be most critical are those who own the movement themselves and long to see it heading in the right direction. Sort of a “no one else can hit my brother; the hitting’s up to me” vibe!

    Not speaking for Daniel… just responding to the comments about InFocus in general.

    Grace to you, brothers.

  25. Benjamin Molesworth 5 March, 2012 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Some IB churches can be so judgmental over such a long period of time, that when you wake up to the way they are, it is really difficult to not continue down the same path. But now the judgment, which you have always known, is directed back against the church who taught you how. It is actually a very difficult task to get out beyond that, and I have seen many people who have left the IB’s, who have struggled with that, and sometimes, never gotten over it. It took me quite a few years. I don’t worry about them anymore. I feel saddened that so many people follow the movement without ever comparing many of their believes directly with Scripture. Because a lot of their unwritten rules are about external appearances, it is easy to no longer be challenged by Christ, if you have those exteral appearances under control.

    Looking forward to the next article.

  26. Elizabeth 7 March, 2012 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Bravo Daniel!

    Perhaps you or the others could consider writing an article on the concept of Authority in the Church.

    Does God give man (ie: a Pastor), or Elders any authority and if so… for what purpose?

    Because we all know that power without authority is…


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