28 October 2010

a culture of distrust

One of the unpleasant realities of modern church culture is that we have created a culture of distrust for ourselves. This means that our default mode is more time spent assuming the worst in each other than anything else. For some people this happens when a brother or sister does something which is confusing. The first step is then to figure that this is some sort of mean-spirited behavior. In reality, the first step to act in Christian love should be to assume that a fellow believer will have the best intentions in mind, even though we might not understand it immediately.

This is a constant plague in church leadership. It typically begins well, when we appoint or elect or volunteer someone to a position within the congregation. We approve of said move because we believe this person to have a good head on their shoulders, and to be a strong person of character and faith. But then, in that fateful moment, when the church leadership makes a decision which we don't understand or with which we don't agree . . . they must be out for control of the church, they have never been gifted for leadership, their faith isn't as strong as mine, they obviously don't pray or else they would see it my way, we can never trust their leadership from this point forward.

In a serious sense: What the hell has happened to ourselves?!?!

If the primary mandate of this community is to love God and love others, to which the gates of hell itself would not overcome such commitment, and we are not capable of doing so within ourselves, then our foundation certainly is missing. It appears that many pockets of Christianity have more in common with the pagan gates of hell than they have with the kingdom of God. I say this because the former is characterized by destruction, the latter with love and edification.

As a pastor, I find myself in this situation quite often. As a young pastor, I find myself in this situation more than many other pastors. As a young pastor in a congregationalist-oriented church, I find myself in this situation all the time. By this I mean to say that some denominational structures and church cultures afford more credence to pastoral authority than others. I'm not saying this is always a good thing, nor am I advocating a more episcopal-looking church structure for myself . . . we are simply not one of those churches.

And so many of us think that anyone who doesn't do everything we think they should in the manner in which we think it should be done is somehow a bad person. I'm certain that in many cases there are many church pastors and leaders who are not good people - and I'm quite certain that I've met some of them - but that doesn't say that love can't overcome them. Living out a kingdom-oriented faith demands that we move beyond such failures and discover a better way.

2 comments:

Pat Pope said...

Thank you! Unfortunately, I'm currently living this reality. I've often wished that people could trade seats with me for one day and see the complexities that exist in leadership. They might make better or different decisions, but at least they would have an appreciation for what goes in to making the decisions. Very seldom are they cut and dry. So many ripple effects are involved and if you're desirous of making good decisions, you have to weigh out all the factors.

I can tell you what's meant the most to me are the people who will rally around me with support and love because they "get it". We don't talk necessarily about the particular decision. These individuals just give a hug, say a prayer, tell me that they love me or give some other encouragement. It's in those moments that I realize not everyone is against me. These individuals get the big picture and they are invaluable.

hipperken said...

your best post yet IMO:)