A doctrine of "Covering" has become very popular in the modern church. It states that if a person is a member of a church and submitted to the pastor, they will be protected from spiritual attack. This doctrine does not understand spiritual protection.

  1. Spiritual protection comes through being in relationship with other Christians. A person can be a member of a Church and not have strong relationships with other Christians.

  2. Spiritual attack generally comes through deception which leads to sin. The best protection is to have friends who know you well enough to be able to know your weaknesses and who love you enough to challenge you when you give in to them. Generally, your pastor will not know you well enough to understand your vulnerabilities. Most people can fool their pastor.

  3. A pastor can only provide protection which is as good as his own. Most pastors are extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack, so they can provide very little protection.

How is the Pastor Protected

The pastor in a conventional church has very little spiritual protection. Spiritually, he is at the top of a pyramid. This pyramid structure makes him very vulnerable. Anyone who has been on the top of a human pyramid knows that it is a very insecure place to be. It is easy to lose one's balance and fall. If a few of the people or one of the elders collapse under the strain, the one at the top can also fall. If the church has only one or two elders, then the pastor is in an even more precarious position. It easy for someone, who is outside the pyramid, to push it so that it falls.

Very few pastors understand how far above their people they are. Most have no one who is close enough to see their frailties, who would also be bold enough to challenge them if they were slipping into sin. My observation is that there are many people who will disagree with the pastor's decisions, but there are very few people who will challenge a pastor's hidden sins. Those who do challenge the pastor are usually people who have been hurt, and lose their credibility by speaking out of their hurt. There are very few who can speak the truth to their pastor in a pure spirit.

Over the last two decades, far too many leaders have fallen into immorality and had to step down from their ministry. This has been painful for them and their families. It has also done tremendous damage to the church and harm to the gospel. The fact that this has happened to so many good men is a sign that something is wrong with the spiritual protection that the church is providing for its leaders. The root of the problem is church structures that leave leaders vulnerable. Most pastors see themselves as standing alongside their people. It is hard for them to understand how far above their people they are.

Protection comes through submission to authority. Modern pastors have spiritual authority over their church. No person has authority over them. This means that in the spiritual dimension, they are at the top of a spiritual pyramid. This makes them vulnerable to spiritual attack.

Some pastors attempt to establish spiritual protection by linking with other pastors, either in their own denomination or in the same city. This is good, but it does not provide full protection. Their commitment to their people means that they will not be able to get really close to another pastor. The other pastors will not be close enough to see if any spiritual vulnerabilities are coming to the surface. To get an early warning of something going wrong, it is necessary to see the pastor working when he is relaxed with his guard down. There are very few pastors who are secure enough, to allow a fellow pastor to see into their soul.

Some pastors will be uncomfortable at the top of a spiritual pyramid. If they have a servant heart, they may choose to serve their people instead of exercising spiritual authority. This is also dangerous as there is a real risk that they will collapse under the strain. When they are exhausted by the strain of carrying the church, they will be very vulnerable to satanic attack.

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