Friday, June 15, 2012
The Dirty Secret Why People Leave Churches
My religious franchise (PCUSA) holds another of its really big meetings (General Assembly) in a few weeks (Pittsburgh, 6/30-7/7/12).
Simply, it's when we get together to make decisions about lots of stuff that usually ticks off lots of members, causes some to exit for good/bad/ugly, occasionally offends God by contradicting His will as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in the Bible, usually offends posers in pulpits/pews whose "Christianity" is only coincidental to His will as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in the Bible, and has about as much of an impact upon global/national culture as the next #1 pick in the NBA draft.
Of course, as I've written many times, I'm staying put because we don't need more segregations, separations, and schisms in our world/nation/church in direct defiance of John 17.
Besides, I just don't get the logic of leaving one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination 'cause they all stink in some way and I'm so used to the smell of mine that I don't feel like making the effort to get used to another's smell and...
Or something like that.
Really, leaving one denomination for another denomination reminds me of that silly kids' song, "The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see...And what do you think he saw?...The other side of the mountain, the other side of the..."
I'm reminded of advice given to me about staying put in marriage that I give to anybody who doesn't wanna do that: "Your greener pasture was someone else's brown field."
Moretheless, I know I'm gonna spend most of July-December (at least) convincing folks about the preceding after the realities cited in the second paragraph.
Things are bad enough without me piling on.
So let me say something positive about my franchise.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), like just about all other mainline denominations, does a pretty good job of displaying its sins for everybody to see.
I mean that.
Ain't much hidden in mainline denominations.
It's as, uh, exposed and, uh, disclosed as the faith and morality of Charlie Sheen.
We don't hide our finances or minutes or faith or morality from anybody.
More than less.
For example, while you've really gotta dig to find out how much those independent/non-denominational guys/gals are making for talking about Suffering Servant Jesus - I just found out one of our local stars makes several six figures without having gone to seminary or being examined by anybody about anything - the PCUSA publishes "Changes in Terms of Call" every year for everybody to...
I mean I won't let my mom, wife, children, or Kopper see the list.
I don't look at it anymore because it's hard not to...
Golly, I can't believe how much that rookie...!
What's up with that associate getting...?
That church is, like, uh, and they pay their...!
Puuuuuuuhlease, how does he justify making...?
It's like I told the priest who asked if I took a vow of poverty when I was ordained.
"Nah," I replied, "Protestant pastors don't need to take a vow of poverty because their churches impose it on 'em."
It's hard not to make comparisons and feel a little, uh, well, uh, you know...
That's why I don't read that report.
I don't need fuel for that fire.
I've got enough problems with the 10th.
Can you say Electra Glide Ultra Limited?
And when 1st AG gave him one for his 5th after I got a $5 card to Culver's in October...
When I was a rich and famous pastor in KCMO and WSNC and making more money than any follower of Suffering Servant Jesus should get for talking about/for Suffering Servant Jesus, I felt so badly about it that I sent monthly checks to Paul, a pastor in a church that didn't even blush about paying him so poorly and never felt any guilt about it even after he died, in a penitential kinda way.
While I've sinned so badly in my life and ministry which causes me to praise and thank God for cutting me sooooooo much slack/grace and not holding any of it against me foruhever, I've never been one of those imperial priests who feel they deserve more than...
Aside from the reality that I know I'm no better while probably worse than anybody else in this business and following Suffering Servant Jesus doesn't include living so much more like a Pharisee than Him that He must barf whenever considering our "sacrifices" for Him, I've read the first few chapters of Acts.
I've read James 4.
Matthew 20:1-16 really upsets my jealousies.
The more I fill myself with Jesus, the more I'm satisfied with/by, uh, Jesus.
I've been watching myself as well as churches for a long time.
I'm convinced the preceding has a lot to do with our unabating problems.
Pride and its buddy control with jealousy as an accomplice devastate lives and ministries.
Let me illustrate.
I am blessed to be the undershepherd of a wonderful family of faith called First Presbyterian Church (Belvidere, Illinois) in a much better than most presbytery called Blackhawk (big part of Illinois).
Our particular church and presbytery have one terrible thing in common.
There are lots of folks who've exited or exasperated little problems into big ones because they don't get the idea of being a supportive servant; or ignore it which is even worse in a Hebrews 10:26ff. kinda way.
Specifically, if they aren't leading, they can't/won't follow and criticize those who do in unhealthy ways or make up some BS about why they must separate, segregate, or stir up schism.
I can't tell you how many pulpiteers/pewsitters exit/exasperate after completing a term of office or resigning (volitionally or otherwise) from a leadership position.
It's all about their hellborn lust to control others because of their pride and jealousy.
It's the truth and they/we know it.
"I'm not being fed by our...I haven't left the denomination but it has left me...We're just going in different directions...They're so..."
Don't it make their/our blue eyes brown?
Dallas Willard: "Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Jesus."
We precede the benediction at First by saying, "The answer to every question is Jesus!"
The answer to pride and jealousy and, uh, everything/everyone else that ails us.
Blessings and Love!