Will it come to that?

For some time my beloved and I have seen things within our local church that have caused us no small amount of concern. I am also not sure how much I should, or should not, share here. I will err on the side of caution. Recently we had VBS at our church, and the pastoral staff has never really made it a priority to participate. I have seen their wives help out, but rarely the men. This past year, as a means to drum up some excitement among the kids a challenge was issued that if so many kids were able to come one evening then the next night a dunking booth would be donated and the kids could dunk the pastors. (Side bar: I was not thrilled with this tactic to bring in more kids, especially since we have a space issue - and on top of that I was not thrilled with the idea of dunking the pastor as, in my mind, it comes across as disrespecting the authority of the church leadership.) Well, the kids met the challenge and the dunking booth was set up. The pastors showed up, but then did not stay for the whole evening. One was there less than fifteen minutes - and he was the "youth" pastor. When he was asked about what he was doing for the middle schoolers the response we got was "he does not have a passion for Middle Schoolers". I was dumbfounded. Lately several families have left the church because of the current state of our children's ministry. When this was mentioned to the senior pastor the response was "people always leave during a building project". We are in the process of a building project, but you would not really know it. With the exception of a small project board with a picture on it, and a line that mentioned how much was donated towards it, you would not know. My beloved and I have known a few of the families, and the reason was not the building project. The final thing I will mention is that none of the Pastors (we currently have three) keep regular office hours at the church. They all work from home (essentially). At a business meeting where the Senior Pastor was present, a friend asked him to pray about having maybe a rotating schedule or something so that there would be a pastor available if needed. The response was sobering. My beloved was present at this meeting so I am confident in this account... the man lost his temper. I cannot remember the exact words, but in essence she was told that it was not going to happen, and that we needed to trust him. But what if someone in the congregation wanted to talk to one of them? What about someone who was in need walking in? I know there are thousand and one things that can distract a Pastor, and that to some extent they need to be shielded, but I feel that this response was out of line. Also, since it was in such a public forum, and he was not a little angry, an apology and some form of request of forgiveness should have been made. It never was - to my knowledge. There are quite a few other things that have really raised some red flags. I am praying over 'Gunny's' blog post about just such a thing. I am concerned because this is the second time I have run into this kind of situation in a SBC church. I know this is not unique to the SBC, and this is not a slight against them, but I am getting "gun shy". Both I and a friend who also attends the same church, have searched around locally for another church. So far, in each case there have been indications that we would not be real comfortable there. We are even considering starting a "House Church". I am both excited and nervous about such a prospect. I am excited because it would 'free' me up to pursue a more in depth teaching, a chance to use some of my (self perceived) gifts. But is also scares me in that cults are started in similar situations. The gospel of Christ can get easily mis-interpreted. There is less chance of direct accountability. Such things should NOT be taken lightly. IF we do this with this other family I am going to need a lot of prayers, but for now we are sitting still (staying at our current church), praying about what to do, and seeking God for unity within the body of Christ. Verse for today: Hebrews 10 : 19-25, ESV Therefore, brothers, [3] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


Ms. Coffee said...

Wow - I know we have discussed it before and I know I have been praying.

As I have said before - it does not matter how involved you are - if what you are seeing is not correct - and He is leading you to leave; it is time to go.

Trusting in what He shows you and is leading you to do is more important than you thinking you have to stay because you are so involved.

I am praying, have been praying and will continue to pray for you and your beloved in this situation!

Also - I would consider getting in touch with an old friend from TMB; Mark and Dena and Lori and Paul - they are involved with a Home Church right now and I think they are loving it!

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

You are in a tough spot. The most alarming thing to me was the reference about no passion for middle schoolers. That age is PIVOTAL for the years ahead. Kids do not flock to youth group when they're 17 unless they started when they were 12 or so. And if they're not there at 17, when they go to college, they often (I forget the stat) drop all that they once held true and good, and if they come back to their faith, it can take years. I say do whatever it takes to get middle schoolers in--dunk the pastor 70 x 7! Because people don't care how much you know (teaching-wise) until they know how much you care, and with kids, you have to care for the whole kid, not just his spirit. I shall step away from the dais now. :)

BigMama said...

Praying for you on all fronts. As you know, our own church history has been pretty unstable, so I do understand where you're coming from. I pray that God will direct your path here.

And yeah, a poor children's ministry will kill a church. "Don't have a passion" -- feh. That's just garbage.

If you do go the route of a home church, I would encourage you to see if there are other home churches in your area. I think that local meetings of a larger scale can help protect against problems (of course, we all have seen plenty of pretty major problems in big old churches, so it doesn't seem like there's much protecting against it). You might want to check out house2house.net to see if there are any other simple churches in your area.