I've been thinking and praying about leaving the church.
It was prompted again by something stupid (see KD's 11/16 edition), a survey, and the recollection of a conversation with a pastor who was my age now back in 1977.
Again, go back to the 11/16 edition for something stupid.
The survey: "What are you looking forward to?"
My answer: "Heaven! Take me now, Jesus!"
The conversation was with Charlie shortly after I was ordained.
I said, "I feel really good about the church. The people are wonderful."
He said, "You'll get over it. You're still on your honeymoon when everything and everybody seem wonderful. But that will change as you fail to meet their expectations and advance their goals; and it won't be long before you'll know they don't care what you think and that it's their church and that they made a mistake in calling you and look forward to the next pastor search."
I said, "You're wrong, Charlie. I love them and they love me and..."
He interrupted, "You're so young and naive. You must have missed the course on original sin in seminary. Let me tell you how it is. Last night after the meeting in the parking lot after the meeting in the parlor, I heard things that made me want to quit on the spot. But, yes, like you, I feel called to stay. So I went home, walked up the stairs to join my wife who had been in bed for several hours already, and cried, 'Take me now, Jesus; for my life is so much more valuable to You than the church.'"
Three decades in the business have exorcised my naiveté and drained my youth.
You've probably heard about the man who said to his wife after worship, "I'm never going back to that church!"
She said, "Yes, you are!"
He said, "O.K., give me one good reason why!"
She said, "I'll give two good reasons why you're going back. First, it's the right thing to do. Second, you're the pastor."
There were 28 responses to the last edition's (11/16) mockery of taking attendance in churches.
Three seemed to summarize the sentiments.
A seminarian in Pittsburgh wrote, "I just thought of a solution to your attendance-counting problem; although it is a little Roman Catholic. RCs choose the first Sunday in October, randomly from all I know, to count heads; then multiply it by the rest of the Sundays and report that to their bean counters for their annual worship attendance. Of course, priests generally have special events to get more bodies in the pews that week."
A lawyer in Kansas City scolded, "God told his chosen people not to take a census! What do we do? We take one every Sunday! Are we his chosen people or did we miss something really important?...As for bean counters, I'm also a CPA. Do you know what that stands for? Constant Pain in the Aaaaaaaabdomen!"
A pastor in New Jersey challenged, "Why waste so much time and energy and person hours on something so incredibly useless? I'll tell you why! It's because we'd rather count our shrinking memberships than go out and win souls for Jesus!"
The pastor's comment about taking attendance reminds me that size matters in church.
When pastors meet each other for the first time, they don't ask, "So how's your relationship with Jesus? Do your members behave like they believe in Jesus?"
They ask, "So, uh, how big is your...?"
That's how they figure out how their size compares to...
Just the other day as happens every now and then, a deacon asked if I ever consider quitting.
She was concerned because of folks who always like to complain about everything/everybody; including yours truly.
I said, "Well, there are three categories of people in terms of what you're thinking. About 80% don't really care how we're doing it as long as we're doing it for Jesus, about 18% get involved in doing it for Christ's sake, and about 2% are ready to pound in the nails again when Jesus returns."
She asked, "How do you feel about that 2%?"
I answered, "Just one flea can make a big dog itch, Yeah, it bothers me; and I feel like leaving every now and then. But it's an irresistible call. I'm compelled. Yeah, I'd like to tell some people to go to hell; but that's not what I'm supposed to be about if I'm about Jesus."
Jesus wants us to point everybody to heaven - even the ones who like to damn us.
That's why I stay.
Blessings and Love!
Post a Comment