'I made this [letter] very long, because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter.' Pascal
It comes as no surprise to some, but I'm not very widely liked at church. Especially in the older crowd, or as I have heard them called (and often repeated) the Blue-Haired Crowd. Mind you I am not accusing all of the older generation, many of them are more God-fearing and righteous (in the right manner) than I am. In fact, there are still many I look up to. The reason for this is that unlike most in my age group, I show up at the business meetings, and I open my mouth. When I do it makes those who are comfortable in their status quo relationships at church uncomfortable.
The town I live in is one predominantly made of outsiders. People from all over come to live on the lake. Long ago I stopped asking people if they were from here and rather started asking them where they were from. My ability to discern they weren't from here was amazing to them--at least until they figured out how I did it. The church I attend, however, is full of people who ARE from here. I have had many conversations with other transplants, including some of the leadership of the church, about how difficult it is to "break-in" to the inner circle. Briefly recapping what I just said, I live in a town full of outsiders that embrace outsiders, and attend a church of insiders who don't always embrace outsiders. About 3 years ago I considered leaving, and had a friend tell me that if my family went somewhere else in a matter of 5 years we would see that things were the same there, at least here we know who is what. It was really then that I started to open my mouth.
One of my favorite authors, Ted Dekker, wrote a book entitled The Slumber of Christianity in which he described exactly the situation I see happening in the church as a whole, and my church in particular. People who get so comfortable in their Christianity and their status that they cease to zealously strive for Christ. Churches become a place to go socially, to connect with other like-minded individuals and not a place to rock the boat. They have been in the church for decades, and choose to run the church the way they want regardless of if it is the right way. Again, I do not mean that everything they do is wrong, but more often than not the decisions appear to be more self-serving than not.
An example is what happened in our recent recession. As the economy soured and money, particularly offerings and tithes, dwindled we were constantly called upon to "give sacrificially" or "give 'til it hurts." At the same time, the budget was amended to stop spending on things such as sending the staff to more conferences, less literature for the library and eliminating scholarships for mission trips.The message here was that members were to give until it hurts, but the church would be wise stewards of the money and not spend it on frivolous activities. Not only did I see this as a problem, but we had a speaker at our revival that year who specifically called out the same areas as things that were important that needed to not be cut out just because times get hard.
The lead group in this matter is one Sunday School Class which remains nameless. As mentioned a few times, not everyone, even in this class, is a part of the problem. There is a Sunday School Class of people my age that I have long joked will become the new class that does this, and I had to bite my tongue when I happened to be around when they were told they should move their class into the same room due to size (one meets while the other is in church then vice versa). This Sunday my small men's class joined them because their teacher was absent at the last-minute. Between getting started late because of this last second change and the subject we were speaking about (which in some ways hit upon some of the topics in this post) we spent 5 to 7 minutes praying at the end, and ran way longer than we should have. This in turn caused the older class to be late getting in.
As we broke up and the other class entered, I was standing in the back and a gentleman asked me who had taught today. I commented that at the last second my teacher had been called up off of the bench, smiling and being cordial. This gentleman was not very cordial or smiling and asked me if he knew he was supposed to be done fifteen minutes before. As my own mood began to change I told him no, he didn't and also that the guy in the yellow shirt was the one he would need to talk to. He told me he would just talk to the Associate Pastor (whose hats include Education Minister).
I walked away quite angry. So angry that on my way to the MPR where our contemporary service is held I decided quickly that I would not participate in the Lord's Supper (normally done on the first Sunday of each month) because my heart was not in the right place. We ended up not having the Lord's Supper, and I did calm down. Perhaps this whole post is just me ranting to get over it, I can't deny the distinct possibility of that. Part of me thinks that if he had made the comment to anyone else they would have allowed it to fall like water on a duck's back while I took it as water under a duck's butt.
It seems best for me to have been the one commented to, because I don't know what anyone else would have said or done. And that is a whole lot better note to end this rant on. In case you wondered though, the difference is that water on a duck's back falls harmlessly, water under a duck's butt sometimes gets crapped on.
- Interpretative Labeling (byrdmouse.wordpress.com)