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By Dennis Rowan
November 6, 2016

Last week I removed the bell from a lead sheep. It was a bit sobering as I thought about it; I removed the bell because the sheep was no longer qualified to be a lead sheep… she was no longer useful. Before continuing, look at the definition of Bellwether.


1. a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
2. a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry: [Link] As I removed the bell from the sheep, my thoughts went to Christian leaders… perhaps it is time to remove the bell. What do I mean by that? First, I am primarily referring to most pastors who supposedly lead local congregations. If they are not leading correctly, then it is time to remove the bell.

Burnout, PKs, and High Expectations of Pastors

For most of my 75 years I have listened to people talk about how so many pastors tend to feel lonely because of the demands made on the life of pastors. Some of this is self-inflicted, and some are demands by the very people who pay their salary. Pastor burnout is something I have heard many times. Then there are the PKs, or preacher’s kids who seem to be in a class by themselves, as people who have special behavioral problems. Personally, I have not seen this in excess among PKs, but I had an unusual encounter with one of my students, a PK, about 40 years ago at the college where I taught. A young lady in my class was a PK, and she told me in private that her pastor dad kept so busy that she and her brother had to make appointments with him if they wanted to visit him at work. Sometime during the past 25 years, I came to the conclusion that the high stress on pastors, the super busy schedules, and subsequent burnout by some occurs because the position as pastor, as we know it in America is NOT biblical. In my mind, God would not put that responsibility on one man. In addition to your bible, check here for biblical pastor information.

Church Government

I once ask a pastor to define church government, because I really wanted to know. This was a relaxed informal setting, so he was under no pressure. He talked for 10-15 minutes, and said NOTHING, or at the very least, I learned nothing. That was a big red flag for me, and I began a relatively long journey of searching the Scriptures to learn for myself some things about church government… after many years I concluded that traditional church as most Americans know it is NOT biblical… there I said it!

The Lead Sheep

I mentioned my relatively long journey of searching the Scriptures. Here is a link to something I wrote 23 years ago called The Lead Sheep. There is much in that article, written more than two decades ago, that complements what you read here, but my criticism of the system, and subsequent conclusions now are much more harsh, as you will see at the end of this piece. I beg the Christian reader to beware of the, “But we’ve always done it this way” syndrome. ” (BWADITW). We need to understand that BWADITW is not a synonym for “truth.”

Below is a quote from a book about biblical church by Terry Stanley

We cannot be adequately fed from only one man, for only one hour, on only one day of the week. No matter how good of a man he may be. The church of Jesus does not need money to run. Nor does it need a denomination (division) to be affiliated with. We do not need a building, a board of directors, an agenda, or a marketing plan in order to survive. But rather the Spirit of God, the power of the gospel, the love of the brethren and the authority of the scriptures are to drive our very existence.

Amen, and Amen! I encourage the interested reader to check the free online book at the link above. For any who wish to study and exercise a bit of discernment, they should realize that church congregations in America have some serious problems, and the lack of proper Christian training of our young children is at the top of my list of those serious problems. I don’t particularly like to put in these words (shown in bold), but I will because that is the first thing that came to my mind; pastors should be ashamed to show their face in public knowing that most of the children in their congregation attend a government run school where Jesus Christ is not welcome.

The Choice for Christians – Comfort or Correct

Yes, I think it is time to remove the bell from those who lead non-biblical organizations that are supposed to be Christ-centered, but instead, have been instituted, shaped and corrupted by men. I don’t doubt the salvation and sincerity of all who participate in institutional churches, but the system, on average, needs an overhaul.

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Do a search and learn where in the world Christianity has the fastest rate of growth (hint they are underground house churches). Most of the traditional church institutions and their leaders in America should gradually step out of the way, and let the home churches and home schooled people begin to turn things around with a true focus on the Chief Shepherd absent all of the frivolous baggage man has attached to what he calls “church.” It will be a very difficult and slow process to change from such an established system, but we also should decide which we prefer, comfort with the old, or accept the challenge of being correct. Focus on this Scripture:

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. ( Matthew 19:26)

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Dennis Rowan was born in 1941 in the same house where he now lives with his wife Glenda. In fact, he does much of his writing in the same room where he was born. The experiences on the family farm gave him an intense desire to study agriculture, and subsequently led him to obtain three degrees in Animal Science, from three separate Land Grant universities (BS, MS, & PhD). He worked for the Agricultural Extension Service in two states before he began teaching at a university in the state of Missouri. After teaching Animal Science courses for eleven years, he returned to the family farm in 1982 and began a sheep production enterprise. In 1985, he and his wife began Psalm 23 Camp on their farm. That same year Rowan began writing essays about the biblical insights he gained from his experiences while working with his flock of sheep. Many of those were included in a book, “Sheep Tracks, Biblical Insights from a Sheepherder.” He continues to write such essays. Following many years associated with public education, including his service on a local school board, Rowan became an advocate for Christian schooling, particularly, homeschooling.


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Yes, I think it is time to remove the bell from those who lead non-biblical organizations that are supposed to be Christ-centered, but instead, have been instituted, shaped and corrupted by men. I don’t doubt the salvation and sincerity of all who participate in institutional churches, but the system, on average, needs an overhaul.