to add to my reading list. I now have four Catholic blogs and am not Catholic.
So tonight I was bouncing around Google and I found an article on Changing Churches. The author is against it.
He says there are no perfect churches. I agree with that.
He says YOU are responsible for your church. Er, not quite. “If you think your church can do better, accept some responsibility for that.” No. I’ve been doing in my church, volunteering and praying. But I’m not in charge of my church. I’m not the one who has decided that we can’t walk and pray at the same time. I’m not the one who has decided that women teaching is anathema. I am not the one who gave nine people a job and then, after months of work, took it away from them. I am not responsible for this church because I cannot be. And since I can’t change it, I am leaving.
It’s about Jesus. Hmm. Could he tell the elders at my old church that? Because I think they think it is about them. “The elders are the ones who must make all decisions.”
His blog entry linked to this article on changing churches.
If you feel the Lord genuinely wants you to leave and go elsewhere for good reason, go to the pastor and discuss it with him. Don’t just stop showing up for church. That is inconsiderate and immature.
There are several faulty presuppositions in this paragraph. One is that the pastor is the head of the church. Another is that the pastor knows or cares who you are and will notice if you leave. A third is the idea that leaving somewhere that you have tried to improve without discussing (again) the problems is immature.
My guess is he’s a pastor of a small church and people leave because they don’t like someone else’s mode of dress or something.
No two churches are alike in their personality or methods, any more than two people are alike, but it’s not really very mature to abandon a church over such, shallow, external things.
He says you can’t leave a church because of the style of worship or the pastor’s preaching style. Why not? If I learn more and grow more somewhere else, why should I stay at a church just because I went there?
I have always noticed that the most critical people in the church are usually the ones who do the least. Have you prayed faithfully for the church and its leaders? Have you made yourself available to serve or help in areas of ministry? Have you expressed helpful suggestions or brought your concerns to the leadership (in a non-judgmental fashion)?
And there’s his small church-ness again. I have taught children’s Bible class for three years, all but the summer quarter. In the summer I have taught VBS and one quarter I taught and created the curriculum for a class on missions for all the children. I have taught the children’s church this year. I served for a year on the youth ministry search committee. I have worked for a year with the Monday evening service projects. I have been in small groups, including hosting. I have attended ladies’ Bible class and taught a class when asked. That’s all within the four years I have been at this church.
I may not be a 20%er (20% of the people do 80% of the work), but I am involved.
And it doesn’t matter.
When an elder went outside the process that had been set up, the other elders defended him.
When a teacher was rude to my child and informed the elders that my son had been rude to him, the elders ignored the situation.
When someone went and complained to the elders because a woman was teaching a middle school class, co-teaching it with a man, they removed her from the teaching team.
When the elders set up a committee, they put in charge of it a gatekeeper, someone who desires to be in control, and someone who ultimately was untruthful. They knew about the problems early on and did nothing.
When an elder insulted someone from the pulpit, nothing was done about it.
The elders have changed the stated movement of the church. I don’t want to walk back down the path they are choosing. So I am choosing to leave.
One of the core values of Fellowship of the Woodlands is that there are lots good churches out there and you should go to the one you are on board with the vision of. If you don’t support the vision of FOW you are free to go somewhere else.
I think most churches don’t say this because they don’t even have a vision. And really most churches think they are doing God’s work and your leaving is rejecting God.
Anyway quite the rant.
One of the important things to remember about people regardless of their position in life is that they are still “people” and clearly the Bible says (to some this is an annoying, i.e. starting off with “the Bible says” and hopefully this does not conjure negativity for you) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean we stop sinning. Being qualified for a leadership role in a church still does not mean we will stop sinning. Clearly you have experienced the annoying effect sin has on those around us.
The only thing you can do (maybe should do) is look at life and ask yourself what is your guide to life. Is it your sense of security or feelings or how people treat you? If so then unfortunately you will be hard pressed to find a church anywhere that will satisfy you, simply because you have to deal with people and unfortunately people will sin and will let you down. On the other hand if your guide to life is something outside of yourself and for the sake of brevity let’s say it is God and assume that the Bible is His only revelation to man and that the Bible is inerrant then you have some direction. Clear direction in the case of church going.
1. You should attend a church. Heb 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
2. God is a god of peace and calls us to live in peace with others even to the unconditional sacrifice of ourselves. Heb 12:14-15: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled
So while you are right in that the things that you have experienced are sin and the people committing them should be rebuked, disciplined and required to seek forgiveness and ultimately repent or otherwise quite frankly be “excommunicated” if they refuse to acknowledge and deal with their sin. This process is however very difficult to execute lovingly and peacefully. Many Church leaders fail to do this well and unfortunately tend to ignor this difficult but necessary part of leading in the church. It can be ridiculously messy and people tend to get hurt more than healed through this and many church leaders know this and unfortunately choose to avoid it like the plague.
So we are left with the decision to either
1. be offended by the sins of others and possibly even leave our churches or
2. we can tenderly approach those who sin against us initially and then if that doesn’t resolve itself we can go back to the offending party with a mutually respected, unbiased, mature, believer and discuss the issue and see if that resolves it and if not, then and only then should the elders be involved.
My experience is that in these situations both parties have to be willing to give in some for the sake of peace in order for this process to work. If one party is steadfast in thinking they are right and the other is wrong then this process will be very difficult even if they are genuinely right.
So may God bless you and lead you in your search for a church but may He also give you an extra measure of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, for no matter where you attend there will be sinners in every level of leadership. So rather than setting your expectations on how people will treat you, consider conditioning yourself on you will respond or react.
And know that God loves you dearly and wants you to come to Him with all of these struggles and seek Him and His guidance.
Have a blessed day!