Pastor Bankens lived in Louisiana until he was forty years old, attended church at Apostolic Temple Pentecostal Church, pastored by Dr. M. D and Dr. R.D. Treece. He was an evangelist about twelve years, pastored in Rome, Georgia five years, pastored New Chapel UPC, Collins, Mississippi, for almost twelve years. Pastor Bankens is now living in Sulphur, Louisiana and is preaching out as he is again attending Apostolic Temple under his Pastor Rick Treece, Pastor Bankens is ordained by UPCI..
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In my thirty plus years of preaching ministry I have seen too many churches with members that wanted to control the church. They sit in their pew or in their little church offices like they are the king or queen of the church; they feel that every decision that is made in the church must come through them. I have been pastor of two churches and both of these churches have had control freaks in them.
Usually the people that are control freaks have been at the local church for a long while.
I have found in the old-line established churches, these folks have assumed and feel that their tenure gives them the right to take the lead and be in charge of everything.
These control freaks have often stepped into leadership voids that happened in the past. In most cases they simple put themselves into position.
When I have taken personal time to listen to their stories I have found that they have gained control during previous times of transition or turmoil in the local church.
These control freaks feel that they have the right to know everything.
Control Freaks understand and know that knowledge is empowering, and they expect to be in the loop for everything. I often tell people that are control freaks that they are “information idolaters.”
These control freaks refuse to listen to anyone that has an opposing view.
Particularly in a congregational church community where the people are given an open voice, they will all fight for the right to express their opinion—but the control freaks will completely dismiss the opinions of others, because they feel like they are in charge.
These control freaks demand being a part of every major decision that is made in the church.
In fact let me make it plain, these control freaks cannot imagine how the church community can wisely decide something without their input. Even if the control freaks agree with the decision of the church community, they will find something wrong, especially if they were not part of the decision making process.
These that are control freaks allow their support for pastoral leadership to change with the winds that blow through the church community. The end result is that they are always a part of any upheaval that arises against the Pastor and His authority.
When the pastor is installed as the new pastor, these control freaks open their arms to make sure the pastor and his family feel welcome. If they like what the pastor does, they are on board. If they do not like the things the pastor is doing though, they quickly become opposition—they always say, “We are doing this for the good of the church.”
These that are control freaks say, “Some of the people are saying.”
These “people” that they are talking about, in most cases are only themselves and their spouses. But they love to use exaggeration by using the phrase “some of the people.” This gives them a sense of support and power, especially when the pastor seems to be listening to them.
These that are control freaks see the negative more than the positive.
These control freaks see themselves as God’s appointed leaders to make sure the church never goes astray. To these control freaks, “astray” means any direction they themselves do not want the church to go.
These that are control freaks often use veiled threats against the pastor and the church leaders.
One of the biggest threats they use: “People are going to leave”; “People will stop giving”; and they love to say, “We have seen pastors come and we have seen pastors go and we will be here longer than you are.”
These control freaks very seldom talk about the Word, they never really pray and cannot sit for preaching.
I have very seldom heard any one of the control freaks talk about their personal walk with God. I have learned that control freaks do not have a need for God, because they are in charge and control.
These control freaks often focus on the money, offerings and the church budget. Most often these control freaks love to brag about how much they personally give.
Control freaks love to Control the purse strings of the local church; this is a primary way they extend their control, power and influence.
One thing that I have found to be when it comes to control freaks, they will never admit they are controlling.
Let me go so far as to say, they might not even recognize these facts. This is one of Satan’s subtle ways to mess up a local church: Satan influences control freaks; he influences those that know they are control freaks and also those that do not even recognize what is happening in their life.
In both churches that I was pastor, I faced the ugly controlling spirits that had been in the churches for years. The people that are control freaks will change over the years, but the spirits of control have been there for years.
Looking back at the first church I was pastor, I was voted in by 100% vote from the congregation. I went in feeling that this church was ready for my leadership and preaching.
I must admit the first-year things went well. We had good church, the people would fellowship with my wife and I as we were their good friends. But in the second-year the control freaks could not stand it. These folks got highly upset one night when I preached on the subject, “Body, Soul and Spirit”. They got up during my message and walked out while I was preaching. They also got family members to walk out with them.
I met with them the next day and realized one of them had wanted to pastor the church, before they elected me, but the church would not allow his name to be voted on. So, from the very beginning of my becoming pastor they worked hard against me and the leaders of the church.
These folks left our little church and drove 35 miles to another little church in another little town. This pastor welcomed them and put them in leadership immediately. Because of the influx of this group of people the pastor immediately went into a new building program. These folks left that little church half way through the building program and started a church in the same town I was pastor.
The pastor from the little church that had taken them in came to visit me and was devastated because they left him and the church in a financial bind. He said, “I wish you would have warned me about them, before I started building the new building.” I looked at him and said, “I would have warned you, if you would have been ethical and called me when they showed up.” I went on and said, “but you saw an opportunity to use them to build a new building.” I said, “Brother maybe you have now learned a good lesson about pastoral ethics”. This pastor was so devastated by these control freaks that about a year later he retired from pastoring and died less than two years later.
I did not remain in that little church but five years. I was followed by another pastor that was there for less than a year. The people that had left while I was there, came back when that pastor was gone and they control the church still today. The leader of that group is pastor. Several of those that were controllers with him have left, because they can no longer control.
Looking back at the second church I was pastor, I was voted in by 84% of the vote. The Presbyter that handled the vote called me and gave me the vote count and he said, “Brother Bankens I know you will not take this church with that vote.” I said, “Sure I will I was voted into the last church by 100% but I really only had about 50%. At least in this vote I realize there were some that were not for me and I will do my best to win their support.”
I quickly found that the group of people that voted for someone else were not against me, they were easy to get onboard with my vision. But like the first church that I had been pastor, the control freaks had voted for me. It was not but two weeks after I was voted in that they began to openly oppose everything.
Remember, control freaks love tenure and they desire for everyone to look to them as the person in charge.
I had already met this controlling spirit in the first church that I was pastor and realized I had been brought to this second church to destroy that spirit and to revive the people.
From the very beginning I decided to take my time, be very gentle. I did not fight over every situation that came up. I picked my battles through the direction of the Lord. I was blindsided a couple times and was caught off guard but by the grace of God I survived. I was pastor in the second church for twelve years. I did not have to leave, I was not pushed out, I left because I was following the will of God.
When I left the second church, the major controllers, had passed away, left the church or had a change in their spirit. I realize when we deal with people, they have a choice in the matter. They can keep themselves full of the Holy Ghost and follow the leadership the Lord has provided or they can allow that evil spirit of control to overtake them. They live a miserable existence when they become control freaks, because no one can please them.
Even though I have seen this evil spirit of control operate in many churches and I have been the pastor in two churches where the control freaks worked hard to keep the church from growing or doing anything different than they desired. I still do not understand all that goes on to make this happen. Why, can’t people just love God, love His Word, love the leaders that God call’s and places over them. It would be so much simpler for everyone involved for us to stay full of the Holy Ghost and love living for God in peace and harmony.