Thursday, June 21, 2007

Whatever happened to Jesus? Part 1

Last night I attended a very important and significant meeting at my church where the "family" gathered to discuss the recent resignation of our pastor. It was a "q and a" time and was conducted for the most part very civily. There were three or four hateful remarks made, one of them receiving a round of applause, but other than that the meeting was encouraging. The hate-filled folks who said some very ugly things reminded me of why I resigned as a pastor and haven't looked back. In the minds of these hate-filled church attenders their concerns are legitimate, I guess, if hate-filled church folk can have any legitimate concerns. The faces of these people reflected a deep bitterness that has never been removed nor touched by the grace and love of our heavenly Father. And if that sounds too judgmental, so be it.

The only reason I didn't get up and walk out and say "to ---- with it," was because of several younger Christians who came to the mic and addressed the spiritual condition of our congregation. After two and a half hours of listening to pastor-bashing and an exaggerated concern over money more than the spiritual welfare of our brethren, I came away saying to myself, "It's worth the fight." The young men and women who brought us back to the true purpose of a church made the difference for me.

Our congregation is no different than 98% of the churches in America; we are very man-centered, apostate in some cases.

I personally do not believe the reason our pastor gave for his resignation during his resignation speech on June 3. Woven throughout that speech were hints of the strong resistance he has encountered along with his family from a small faction within our church. Listening to him was painful, not only because I love the man so much, but because his words brought back painful memories shared by yours truly and a million other pastors who have resigned under the same pressure. Yes, his remaining on as our pastor may have caused a church split, and he was indeed sincere about that possibility and very wise and loving to factor that in as he resigned. But I believed then and I believe now that the "individual" who unmercifully brought charges against him was the proverbial "straw;" pastor had had enough.

The pastor of every church is faced with a constant barrage of problems; some big, some small and trivial. Pastors face temptations just as their flocks do. And I would wager that 90% of his congregation never, ever prays for his spiritual well-being or that of his family. In fact, I seriously doubt that this same 90% ever prays...period! Well, except when they are having lunch after church at Cracker Barrel.

There are no "easy" buttons for a pastor or his flock to push when trying to resolve church conflicts. There is, however, a book available to give us proper guidelines on "how to do church;" that book, are you ready for this? is the Bible, the Word of God.


Larry said...

It might be better if your church split. Why try to have fellowship with hate filled back biters? How can those folks be believers? If they control things, move on down the road and plant a new church of people who love the Lord and each other.

You have to do what you feel the Lord leads you to do, of course. I'm sorry for your suffering and for the shame the behavior of some bring to the Lord.


Rev.J. Theodore Helms said...

Larry, there is much to consider in our situation. A church split could be what is needed. The reason I say this is due to the fact that the chronic malcontents in our congregation will still be here after the pastor is gone; they will greet the next pastor.

We also must consider the possibility that these hate-filled folks are believers; at least we must treat them as though they are (I Cor. 5:9-12). I was just reading James this morning when I ran across 1:19-21. I have read it a thousand times but this morning it seems so personal and relevant.

Thank you, Larry, for your heart-felt concern and input.