That’s the title of a post that came across my Twitter feed on Monday. How could I not read it? Resistance is futile.
So I clicked it and read a pithy post that Carlos Whittaker had written on June 7 at RagamuffinSoul.com. My first thought after reading it was, “Wow, that’s gutsy. Does Carlos know he may be biting the hand that feeds him? And does he care?”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If we want to know how gutsy his post was, we need to know the answer to three questions. 1) Who is Carlos Whittaker? 2) What did Carlos say? and 3) Why should I care what he says?
Who Is Carlos Whittaker?
Carlos Whittaker was a big-time worship leader at a megachurch. He got so consumed with his church work that he started losing his family over it. Then he had the audacity (aka courage) to tell that story on the TV show, LA Ink where he got a tattoo of Saul’s Conversion to remind him never to put ministry ahead of family again.
Since then, Carlos’ blog has become one of the most-read Christian blogs in the world. His YouTube channel is massive – including one video of a hilarious, off-the-cuff moment of awkward parenting that’s been viewed almost 7 million times. He’s no longer on staff at a megachurch, but travels as a musician/worship leader to megachurches and church conferences.
Here’s how Whittaker describes his current attitude towards ministry, from his website’s About page:
“Perhaps my voice before was a little more cautious,” he explains. “But now that I’m not working in a church I can be more…” [pause] “…aggressive? I mean that I am better able to question the evangelical community. These days I can say the things that will get me into trouble and lose readers and commenters, but these are the things that matter – these are the things that are true.”
A guy who’s trying to say things that are true, even if it gets him in trouble?
What Did Carlos Say?
Carlos’ style isn’t for everyone. That’s OK, neither is mine. Or yours. But I’m glad his voice is out there.
In his “…that’s cute…” post, Carlos wrote of his concern that “the American church is dying” even as many congregations are getting bigger. At the end of the post he asks, “At what point does one sacrifice the success of one’s local church in order to spur the existence of His global Church?”
One reason his post struck me so hard was that, just about an hour before reading his post I had published my own post on the same subject, entitled Why Hasn’t Church Growth Elevated Our Communities? Carlos’ post felt like a reader’s response to the questions I was asking.
Then, while I was reading Carlos’ six-week-old post, he published another post entitled, The Death of the Alpha Male Pastor, based on a talk he heard several years ago from Jon Tyson. In it, Whittaker wrote that building our churches on the back of dynamic leaders is a bad idea.
He started with, “The church with an Alpha male leading it is setting itself up for failure because the only person that can replace that leader when it is time is someone with equal qualities. A 10 replacing a 10.” He suggested that this makes it almost impossible for churches to transition when the original Alpha male pastor is gone.
Then he really turned up the heat by suggesting that video venues reinforce this Alpha male syndrome. “One pastor speaking to many video venues sets a church up for this. It works. But it relies on one single personality. …There MUST be a rethinking of the current church model that is sweeping evangelical America.”
Why Should I Care What Carlos Whittaker Has to Say?
The reason I cited some of Whittaker’s credentials isn’t because his audience numbers make his opinion matter more. That would defy everything this site is about.
What Whittaker says matters because of the risk he’s taking. He depends on megachurches and their leaders for a large portion of his ministry and income. But he speaks up about the problems he sees inside the system that supports him. That’s gutsy.
So it’s not just you and me asking these questions. If a guy like Carlos Whittaker is expressing his concern about our obsession with church size and our over-dependence on superstar ministers, maybe there’s more going on than many of us see. Maybe others in the world of megachurches see the same issues, but he’s one of the first to say it out loud.
So what do you think? Is Whittaker right? Wrong? Have you read anything else that tells you other church leaders are re-thinking their approach to church growth, numbers and leadership?
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