In an Internet message on the eve of his departure from Midway, Pastor Knox warns against self-righteous church leaders who cannot repent…
Midway Teaching Elder Mic Knox recently spoke on the topic of leaders needing to repent on the June 30, 2021 edition of his Spiritual Fitness Show which was titled “How Should Leaders Model Repentance?”
The content of this message is timely and hard to separate from recent events at Midway Presbyterian Church. There are multiple instances in the life of Midway where leaders have been called to repent while demanding others to repent.
As Midway-affiliated readers may be aware, Mic Knox submitted his resignation to the Session, and a pending congregational meeting will likely see him released from his call as an Associate Pastor by the congregation. He referenced his departure in his show, saying:
”As many of you know I’m stepping away from being a pastor at the church where I’m at, and we need more of your prayers…we need your prayers in the days ahead as we transition away and we kinda move more into an evangelistic ministry where its all about West Cobb and around the world.”Timestamp 6:30
He continued to explain that West Cobb (that is, the western side of Cobb County where Midway Presbyterian Church resides) is a mission field. He said that churches and the local community are mission fields “contrary to what some people say” who are only focused on overseas mission work.
At this time, Pastor Knox’s reasons for resignation remain unknown to the public, but readers may surmise it has to do with a divergent focus when it comes to emphasizing the Gospel in and around Midway Presbyterian Church. Pastor Knox may be referencing Midway’s ACTS Fund which has a decidedly international focus.
LEADERS SHOULD MODEL REPENTANCE
Pastor Knox’s main point on repentance was that leaders who do not model repentance should not expect others to repent when they call others to do so. This modeling of repentance is difficult for others when the leaders demanding it are blinded to their own faults and present themselves as greater than those around them. Pastor Knox used a Biblical example of King David’s repentance in Psalm 51 to point leaders to what this should look like saying:
“David starts with his sin…he doesn’t talk about the congregation, he doesn’t talk about another individual, he talks about himself, and he talks about his own sin, and that’s where you need to start o leader who is calling for repentance.”Timestamp 12:40
Pastor Knox emphasized that “proud people will never repent because they don’t see that there is any need for it” because “they know all the right details and doctrine, they know everything.” Knox reminded church leaders that they need to also be humble and repent because they are sinners “just like the people in the congregation.”
He says that this pride stems from leaders thinking they are better than the people in their congregation as they have become numb to their own sin. Knox exhorts leaders to be like King David and should deal with their own sin saying:
“Maybe more church leaders should own their sin. But you know you’ll never be able to own your sin if you are proud…it is only those people who understand the gospel of grace that can admit and confess their sins to others. That’s what James tells us in James chapter 5, he says ‘confess your sins to one another’. Who wants to confess their sins to one another? Especially church leaders, ‘we’re supposed to be holy anointed people who lead the church’ – but you see the gospel of Jesus Christ will humble you because it says you couldn’t save yourself – you are a sinner.”Timestamp 16:10
Comparing modern blame-shifting activities to Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, Pastor Knox warned church leaders saying:
“If you are a leader in a church, a pastor, an elder, a deacon, when people come to you, and you know you’ve sinned, don’t try to blame shift first and foremost. ‘They made me do this, they made me act like this, they they they did this’. No. Own it! Say ‘I’ve sinned’. This is what we see from David in Psalm 51.”Timestamp 32:50
Pastor Knox also connected church leaders’ refusal to model repentance to religious Pharisees saying:
”If you are a leader in a church, its time to own your own sin. It’s time for you to repent first so that your church members can know how to model repentance. They need to know that you are not a religious Pharisee…
Here’s what proud, arrogant, religious Pharisees do who lead your church: they say this: ‘You should repent for I the Lord God am holy and I never do anything wrong. But you! You’re a dirty dirtbag, you should repent!’“Timestamp 34:00
Pastor Knox spoke directly to the wake up call Psalm 51 should be for religious leaders (pastors, elders, and deacons) and scorned the arrogance of church leaders who do not repent and put their faith in worldly titles:
”We lead in the church, and some of us, we call for repentance and yet we have never modeled it for our people. Oh but you’re saying you need to repent of something? Yeah. Repent of my self-righteousness a lot of times. ‘I went to seminary, I know Hebrew and Greek and I am sooo intelligent. Oh I have a doctorate in Greek you, you don’t even know English, look at me I’m amazing hahauhuh.’
The pride and the arrogance. That’s what happens. And you know in the Presbyterian world, this usually happens a lot more in the shape of your academics because you academically have done this, and academically have done that. All pastors who are PCA pastors who are just ordained ministers are usually in transit to become ‘doctors’ and if you’re not, the rest of them look at you and go ‘why is he not getting his doctorate? He should have a doctorate, if he wants to have any clout at all he needs to have a doctorate.’
Leaders should be modeling repentance. Early and often.Timestamp 40:30
Pastor Knox warned about the “stink” of self-righteousness that naturally follows when arrogance and their inability to repent grips leaders in a church saying:
”When the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t real to you, that you really are a sinner, a terrible horrible pathetic sinner, doomed for the hot wrath of God, and it was only by God’s mercy and his steadfast love, and his abundant mercy, if it’s not all those things melting your heart in Christ Jesus because that’s what He did for you on the cross. If all of those things are – yeah you know them academically and but you don’t know how to apply them and they haven’t come in and they haven’t ignited your heart so you are so confident you can repent of your sin, then your whole church will have a smell, will have an atmosphere of self-righteousness – ‘We do everything right. Hahaha. All those other churches in our area, they’re all a bunch of idiots. Hahaha’
Repent. Just repent. Repent of your self-righteousness. Repent!”Timestamp 42:40
For Midway-affiliated readers, this statement might evoke a relationship to recent statements made by Midway Senior Pastor David Hall when he has elevated Midway Presbyterian Church’s worship style as authentic and superior to other nearby churches. This is a sentiment Hall has expressed repeatedly from Midway’s pulpit. Two recent examples are:
“…I dont know if you’ve been to contemporary church services lately, but you should and it’ll either make you appreciate this church’s worship or you will go after some other faith, because all the other churches around us present in their sanctuaries some monster jumbotron with the preacher up on it and the music playing almost if the prelude music to a WWF event. And then they bring on the guest praise team that sings two or three ‘new songs’ that nobody knows, and then we have a video from a missionary and of course there’s always an offering to pay for the ministry. But in the end, there is very little time left to delve into God’s Word or to pray for the people’s prayers gathering them up together as our pastors do. That’s not the Faith that you see in this first century church…”David Hall, Morning Sermon, September 27, 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=x3BP5D5fgLY
”That’s one of the things that sets apart our church from almost every other church in this county – is that we believe that God tells us how to worship.”David Hall, Lessons, Westminster Confession, June 13, 2021: https://midwaypca.org/chapter-21/
Pastor Knox ended his message by expressing his thoughts about the title of “Senior Pastor” and why he’s thankful God has protected him from bearing such a title as he wants to protect himself from the sin of pride.
Midway Readers: Consider some of Pastor Knox’s last words as your Associate Pastor. Do your leaders seem compelled to often remind you of their academic credentials? Do they routinely remind you that their church is better than all others? Do they regularly call their congregation and others to repentance? Do they ever repent themselves? Pray for your church leaders that they might model repentance to their congregation.
You can see the entire Spiritual Fitness Show from June 30, 2021 to hear Pastor Knox’s full remarks in the video below.