Tearing Down Pastors

I don’t know what it is about the Christian world today, but it seems that we are always judging every pastor and speaker that comes our way. They get on a stage to share something and immediately we look for something to scoff at—something to disclaim. Rather than try to learn something, we try to disprove something. I’m guilty of it a hundred times over, especially because my college chapel brought a new speaker in for every single session.

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—The picture above is of my friend Taylor. It looks as though it fits this post, but just so we’re clear he is not an example of someone who judges churches and pastors ;)—

Why are we so desperate to pick a fight? I’m serious—I know I’m not the only one! Are we not supposed to recognize the majority of these speakers as God’s chosen leaders? Are they not his anointed?

If you don’t think you’re guilty of such a thing, look through your life real quick. Can you think of one or two (or dozens) of church stories from your past that you still tell people today? I can. What is our obsession with holding onto our past negative church experiences? No wonder America’s churches are falling apart. We haven’t learned to forgive.

Now look: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have opinions or that we shouldn’t test the things we hear in church. I’m not even saying we shouldn’t question. That would be blindness. I guess what I mean is that we need to stop going into churches with the sole purpose of disapproving of God’s anointed. We shouldn’t join a church with the desire to disprove or challenge the pastor and leaders (that may sound ridiculous, but it happens way more often than you’d think). That’s like getting into a relationship with someone because you want to change them.

If only we tried to have more of a heart like David’s. If you’ve ever read through 1 and 2 Samuel then you’ve seen how strangely David treated King Saul. Saul was not a great king and he tried to kill David time and time again. But despite these many death threats, David refused to attack “God’s anointed.” Despite the fact that the king had clearly gone crazy, David refused to touch someone that God had put such a blessing on. And on top of that, David had the chance to do so, but he refused.

Now of course you don’t want to get mixed up in a church that has a pastor like Saul, but the point remains: some respect for our church leaders would be nice. If you have something to say, you can of course say it, but I suggest you truly check your motives first. Do you truly have a concern about something or are you just looking to be negative? Because American society pushes negativity and criticism harder than any other that I know of. You only have to look through the reviews of the many amazing albums on iTunes to see that.

I feel so awful for all of those mega-church pastors who get hundreds of hate-filled letters and emails every week. Heck, I feel bad for any pastor that gets hate mail. What better way to destroy a ministry than to rip apart its leader. Even something as small as giving your disapproval of a minor statement said in last week’s message is enough to tear down a leader.

Since I’m a pastor you may think that I’m writing this post about me or my church. I am not. I was actually just reading a book and something written in it along with something a college professor of mine said compelled me to put this together. Just so we’re clear, I’m not writing this to demand your respect.

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Love is Not a Bullhorn Pt. 2

A few days ago I made a post called Love is Not a Bullhorn which was about a story I read in the news. The basic gist was this:

  • A church has been protesting at a strip club and now the strip club is protesting at the church.

My critique was on how this church was acting. The basic gist of what I said was this:

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

The post I made was short, but was also, I feel, important. You can read it here. Anyways, I bring this back up because the story has come back into the news. Now typically, when we hear of a story about a church, it’s a bad thing. The media obviously focuses on the crap that happens in the world because that sells money. But somehow this story has come back into the news and now there’s hope that this church could fix the situation. Here’s what YAHOO said on the matter.

They [the strip club owner and the pastor of the church] say they’ll negotiate for the first time Wednesday.The decision came after two women from ministries that evangelize to adult-entertainment industry workers spoke during Sunday’s sermon at the church in Warsaw, 60 miles northeast of Columbus.

San Diego resident Sheri Brown and Grand Rapids, Mich., resident Anny Donewald say the congregation should just love the strippers and “let the Holy Spirit draw them out.”

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper says women who attended the church service apologized to strippers who had traveled from nearby Newcastle to protest outside.

This is good news! Not only did this church allow people outside of their congregation to come in and critique them, but they also listened! That is much, much harder to do than you might think. It’s obvious to me that the Spirit was at work in those who apologized.

To the rest of Christians, let’s keep this church in prayer. They are, after all, as much a part of the body as the rest of us. God is already mending some wounds and this meeting between the pastor and strip club owner could be an epic moment of healing. Not just between the church and the strip club, but between the church and every person who read the original article.

Ohio Strip Club Owner, Pastor to Meet over Feud – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100815/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

Love is Not a Bullhorn

Let’s get something straight here church: you were called to love people and give them God’s life, NOT to speak hell and death over them. Sadly, it’s always our mistakes that make the news:

The owner of an Ohio strip club and some of his dancers have been protesting at a church that has done the same to them for four years…They [the church] come armed with bullhorns, signs and video cameras for posting customers’ license plate numbers online.

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

Jesus never even needed a bullhorn anyways. Why? Because He showed people love so perfectly that crowds would not leave Him alone! They had to have more of Him! They hung on His every word.

Jodi read me an amazing story out of Orson Scott Card’s, “Speaker for the Dead” just the other day. I think it applies well to this situation:

A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.

There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine – a Speaker for the Dead – has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.

The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. ‘Is there any man here,’ he says to them, ‘who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?’

They murmur and say, ‘We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.’

The Rabbi says, ‘Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.’ He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, ‘Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.’

So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, ‘Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.’

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

So of course, we killed him.

Works Cited:

Bullhorn Guy. Perf. Rob Bell. NOOMA. DVD.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. New York, NY: TOR, 1986. Print.”

Dancers from Ohio Strip Club Protest at Church – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.