Posted by: minnow | February 25, 2013

See No Hear No Speak No

Saturday night (2/23) I read a FB status from a person who pastors at the building I left behind nearly 6 years ago.  It invited his FB audience to come hear him preach about “one KEY thing that will help you achieve God’s purpose for you in life”.  It concluded with the statement, “Consider yourself personally invited to a great church family that loves the Lord and loves all people!”

I wouldn’t have even seen this post except another FB friend “liked” it and that caught my eye.  Normally, I can let these types of statements go.  I might feel irritated for a while but eventually I tell myself enough times that it really wouldn’t matter if I responded because A). that individual will never change, or B). his audience all think the same way he does already so why bother.  If that doesn’t talk me out of turning my irritation into a comment or a blog post I remind myself that I don’t have a “right” to say anything because A). I left and am not actually investing anything into that ministry anymore, or even more effectively B). I ask myself what makes my judgement of them any less offensive than the judging of others they do which really is what often bothers me most about “them”.   GOTCHA!  <- That’s how I feel after most of these head wars and so I keep my mouth shut (or my blog silent) and move on.

Maybe it’s the full moon but since the moon isn’t full I doubt it.  The truth is: I just don’t want to let it go this time!  The poster probably won’t change but maybe someone listening in needs to know that he does not speak for all Christians everywhere.  Perhaps most of the people listening do already agree with his point of view.  But maybe, they agree simply because no one has ever given them another option.  I may not have the “right” to say what I feel within the bounds of that ministry because I am no longer contributing to it.  BUT, as a Christ follower I am a part of the big C Church and I do have a right to share a different POV especially when a POV I oppose spills out of the building.  And, maybe, I am just. as. offensive. as. they are.  But just maybe an offense in the DEFENSE of truth and grace and love is not wrong.  So this time I am not going to remain silent.

The idea that a person speaking to a crowd can give me a “KEY thing” to help me achieve God’s. purpose. for. me. stinks of arrogance and lacks all personal relationship.  Very few people, if any, actually know my life and none of them honestly know God’s purpose for me in life.  The only conclusion I can come to (since this speaker doesn’t know the individual life situations of most of those he’ll be talking to) is that he assumes we are all purposed for the exact same thing in the exact same way.  Ultimately that kind of assumption is symptomatic of most institutionalized churches.  It trivialized the need for authentic relationships and waters down any true revelation a person who has taken the time to get to know another person might actually have to offer.

I have had enough pastors and pastors’ spouses as friends to know that most take their “message preparation” responsibilities quite seriously. More seriously, might I suggest, than God takes it.   But, I have also read enough of the Bible to understand that most in the westernized Church have got it wrong.  It is not the job of a single pastor (or even a staff of two or three pastors) to compete with Charles Swindoll’s Insights for Living week after week.  The New Testament tells us in a number of places, that when we gather together  each one should be ready to share with the rest.  Did you hear that?  Everyone is supposed to be ready to contribute.  And contributing financially doesn’t get you off the hook for the hard work of investing your time.  Leaders (elders and deacons) were appointed as caretakers, NOTas the single voice of authority we so often see dominating the pulpit in our modern day fellowships.

I didn’t leave the fellowship the FB poster pastors because it was too good at loving one another.  I left because they discounted the value of more than half their congregation (the women).  And while that accounts for some of my personal “church hurt” the real truth is the leadership of my old fellowship is no different from countless other fellowships around the country.  In truth, nearly all institutionalized churches disregard most of their congregants–men and women.  In most church settings the membership is honestly expected to be seen but not heard.   Show up to do Sunday school, show up to be greeters, show up to help with communion, or the coffee hour, or the pot-luck.   And, BRING YOUR TITHE.  But keep your suggestions and your disagreements, your complaints and your needs to yourself.  Better yet, just bring all those things to God in prayer.  He’ll take care of you so long as you’re faithful.

The last time I was in the building for a service the pastor above who wanted me to consider his Facebook status “a personal invitation” to a “great church family” whizzed by me asking how I was doing but didn’t stay around long enough to hear me reply, “It’s nice we’re having weather.”  Now, I don’t doubt that this gentleman works hard and I don’t doubt that he spent a lot of time preparing for his message.  I believe he genuinely wants to be a good husband, father, and leader.  And, he may even see himself as a good friend, though as a pastor I suspect most of his friendships do not include places where he can actually be both safe and vulnerable since needing to appear to have it all together kind of comes with the pedestals on which the “leadership” so often stands.

This post may sound like sour grapes to some who read it.  I can understand why they might choose to go there.  Avoiding the issue by deflecting the point is a lot easier than not having an immediate, well reasoned explanation for what we do and why we do it.

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Responses

  1. […] have tried to explain my process of emerging from the cult like Christianity I experienced in other posts so I won’t rehash that now.  (Follow the […]


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