Monday, June 13, 2011

The Grass on the Other Side

What's the grass like on the other side?  I ask because our church's grass is looking a little brown right now.  We're in transition.  For those unfamiliar with transition it often means when one pastor leaves and another one is on his/her way.  It could be a good thing or a bad thing.  There is significant internal disagreement over which applies for us.

The Church in the U.S. parallels the culture in that we're under constant change.  When the customer service is poor we get ticked off, others have hurt feelings, and a few even coincidentally move to Ohio at the very onset of transition.  Funny how so many people are moving to Ohio!  It's often the equivalent to dating's "let's be friends" or "I need more space."  "It's not you it's me" is heard as is "it's you, it's not me."

The early church (right after Jeus' ascension) was far from perfect.  Those who weren't martyred still had issues and their Greco-Roman culture often blinded them from making perfect decisions:  some were racists, others sexists, many classists.  They didn't have cars however and choose to drive down to Nazareth Evangelical Church because of better preaching, music, or potlucks.

Before trying to look "holier than thou," I have left churches too and often feel like throwing in the towel because others are doing so.  How have I gotten to this point?  How have we gotten to this point?  Our church is filled with imperfect people that make mistakes.  In contrast, of course, to the other churches filled with people that make mistakes and fall short of perfection.  People get mad at us because we're sinners.  So they leave.  Heck, we pastors sometimes leave too.

If you follow professional sports you know that the average coach lasts only a few years.  The team hears his speeches over and over and his efficacy decreases through time.  Sometimes players leave and sometimes coaches leave.  Many times it leads to success, but typically the same thing happens.  The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship last night with a coach most saw as mediocre in his last position.  Did he change?  Did the team change?  Because Christians are human, we do the same exact thing:  we get sick of our pastors and our pastors get sick of our congregations.  I've been on both sides so I've made twice as many mistakes as you.
I'm not against people (pastors & parishioners) switching churches (I'm always looking for a church that'll give me a country club membership), but I really wonder what God thinks about it.  When we leave churches and find new ones, we'll find other people just as flawed as we are.  They'll make us mad and we'll want to leave again. 

One of the most curious oddities of God is that He still gives us leadership roles within His Church.  Doesn't he know we constantly screw things up?  We certainly don't act like a family.  The old saying about choosing your friends but not your family applies.  Your "stuck" with family sometimes.  But we "choose" our churches and don't suffer the full gamut of consequences when we leave them.  How does this organization called the Body of Christ ever accomplish anything with this transition?  It's simple.  The grace of God.  While tearing my hair out today I got to witness the healing and miraculous powers of God Almighty in the lives of two families.  I got out of the way, canceled my pity party, and praised God.  HE is in charge of the Church and HE is the reason we accomplish anything at all.  Join me in worshiping the God who loves us despite our search to hop the fence for the greener grass.

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