Training the Next Generation Authoritarian


2/2/20222 min read

The authoritarian pastor is bad enough for the health of a congregation, but there is something worse than just an authoritarian. What could be worse you might ask? What’s worse is when the authoritarian trains others to follow in his footsteps.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40).

The context here is important. Jesus is teaching about making judgments and just before He says this, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” The obvious problem is bad teachers (authoritarians in our context) will train others to be like them. While bad enough, when the disciple is an authoritarian all on his own it becomes an even worse recipe for disaster.

The topic of this website is Mike Reid and Grace Fellowship “Church” in Davenport, IA. Mike is an authoritarian, he is a narcissist, and he is in the process of training others to be like him. Even worse is that his number one protégé, Tyler Bolkema, has perhaps exceeded expectations. Tyler is a young man and is an exceptionally bright young man, but there are major problems with his temperament which can be well attested to by those excommunicated under this authoritarian regime.

Writing an article for Phil Newton says this about the authoritarian pastor,

How do you recognize authoritarianism? An authoritarian pastor might preach “good” sermons in that he can exegete a text and deliver a homiletically thought-out structure with appropriate gestures and voice modulation. In other words, someone might hear him preach and think that he’s really good at it. But once out of the pulpit, an authoritarian typically lacks grace and tenderness toward others.

Here is the crux of the issue not only for Mike Reid, his antics are well documented, but especially for a new generation of those headed into pastoral ministry. Tyler had potential. I dare say that has now been ruined. He has gone over the cliff and will end up hurting more people than he helps because of his authoritarian tendencies. It is not a sport to expose people like this, it is biblically necessary.

Phil Newton reminds us of Diotrephes,

One thinks of Diotrephes, whom John warned Gaius and those associated with him, of his authoritarian ways (3 John 9–10). He loved to be first—so ultimately, the church gathering was all about him and not about Christ or the body. He rejected apostolic authority—so had no qualms about manipulating Scripture to gain control over others. He spoke unjust words, even accusing godly people of ungodliness—so resorted to slander to get his ways. He rejected faithful brothers and kept them out of the church—and so sought to control the church for his own desires.

Sadly, this is the situation.