Here’s another question that has come in…and one that unfortunately I’ve had a lot of experience with. You’re experience may be different so I’d appreciate you adding your comments to the discussion.
What can you do when you hear a pastor from another church nothing to do with you leads his leaders day by going from one drinking establishment to another drinking copious amounts of alcohol? Another church that wrote to an elderly lady who has lost her husband to say because of her attendance record she was no longer a member of their church – this was without any pastoral visits taking place before hand – like a letter out of the blue? Another pastor in another church sent one email in 5 weeks of hospital stay and no flowers, gift, financial support etc. I have dubbed these episodes Christians behaving badly! How can we impact the world when we hurt our own people and are continually under ‘friendly fire’?
I’ve learned to apologize for them.
If I was wanting to I could tell you horror story after horror story of what happens in churches. As a kid I was not sheltered from the ugliness of human nature clothed in sanctimonious garb. I learned how to see past the facade people wanted portrayed. As a pastor I was called in to other churches when things got too bad for them to handle themselves. I don’t think there’s anything that can surprise me in the church and that’s coming from someone who’s kept files for probable future criminal investigations.
I don’t share how I’ve learned to deal with the inconsistency of the “Christian” example with a lot of people – but I suppose if this gets on my blog I’m now sharing it with the world. I’ve learned “People are hurting and hurting people do stupid things.”
Have you read Serena Woods “Grace is For Sinners” http://graceisforsinners.com It’s not an easy read and it’s not necessary for your questions but it is an indictment on the condition of much of the church today.
Yes, people in churches are hurting. People in leadership in churches are often hurting more. Hurting people hurt people. I am amazed at the lack of confidence in many pastors. They are too afraid to visit a hospital and too uneasy to visit people in their home. They might have other excuses but often in conversation we can link things back to fear. I’m not a fan with a lot I see pastors and churches doing.
But we’re all family. I can’t choose my family, but I can (and often do) apologize for them. http://revtrev.com/video-ministry/the-apology/
I’ve written this in my book “Hope in Transition” (I laugh when people quote themselves, I’m just doing it because I can copy-paste 🙂 :
I know the church is often the last place to find grace. I’ve sat through sermons from Job’s friends. I’ve been there when performance outstrips Presence. I’ve experienced love turned inward while I’ve been left on the outside. I’ve seen prophecy used to manipulate. I’ve seen the Word used to pummel… and still I’m insisting the church is where you can be – no should be – strengthened.
Too often we find enough excuses to withdraw from meeting together. Don’t.
If you’re in a town and there is no life giving church, and it’s impossible to drive to a life giving church, there are other alternatives. But I need to be clear – I’m not saying if you’re upset with the pastor or if you’ve been hurt by a friend look for another alternative. Iron sharpens iron and if you’re running away from what God wants you to take to the cross, you aren’t doing yourself any favors to avoid an uncomfortable situation. If it’s a matter of a personality clash, I’ve got one word for you –
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 (The Message)
Go make things right and be the change you to see. Quit blaming someone else for what’s not happening and realize YOU are the church. Don’t be belligerent or look down on others who have a different level of faith or maturity. It’s time for the church to arise, so get in your corner of the kingdom and lovingly lead.
However, I realize this isn’t always possible in every situation. If there truly is no life giving local church to be a part of or you work shifts that don’t allow you to be a part of a church you need to be connected somewhere you’ll be strengthened….
I get questions everyday through email, twitter, facebook and my blog that should be answered by someone’s pastor. As I communicate with people I realize their pastor either can’t make time because they need to work to support their family in ministry or won’t make time because they are in a system that makes them a CEO and the congregation the customers.
I connect with people and can have real, raw conversations with them using the tools I know and the passions I have and there seems to be so many people all over the world who are looking for more of God and a real way for the church to be the real church…so we’re praying about starting a web church ourselves.
Love to have your feedback on it.
Hope that helps