Institutional Wrath

A friend asked that I comment on the conservative Baptist culture that recently dealt me and my family a pretty big blow... Tough to be impartial where that is concerned... but I will try. For general readers..here is a little background. I am a bivocational minister of music, have been for 13 years.. was in the mentioned job for just under 5 years, and recently resigned at the request of the personnel committee of the church.. I was totally ambushed and surprised by this request..Their reasons are hollow to me, but I trust that God is working through this.. I am growing, being refined, and strengthened. The church seems to be struggling, but I trust in God to do a great work there if it is in his plan..

A job at a church, any church, is still just a job helping to lead others to Christ, but leading in worship and presenting God's word, is a higher calling... I am upset at the the leaders of the church body for dealing with me so insensitively, but at the same time I commend them for acting in a manner consistent with where they believed the church should go. We must be bold in our faith and actions to have hope of affecting the world around us. Bold action is called for in this "war". The church, as a whole is either dead or dying.. Even churchs like HRBC, my new congregation, are alive, but struggling to find a way to actually impact our community and world around us. I wonder how we stack up in the larger scheme.. I fear that we are not so effective.. Ministry is effective one on one.. Accountability is effective one on one... Institutional governance, and the power that goes with it is a corrupting and dangerous model. The politics inherent to congregational leadership are vicious, yet to defer all authority to a pastor, pope, priest.. whatever you call it, is equally dangerous and irresponsible. There is no perfect answer here.. We as a culture have about 2000 years of failure on our hands.. History tells the tale better than I ever could..

When I was leading at my old church, I took bold steps and actions which I believed to be correct. As a leader, I must stand behind decisions, both right and wrong.. We all have both successes and mistakes, I had my share of each...., but I think that as a whole, I did great work, loved my congregation, encouraged the musicians, helped to build an evolved view of worship, far exceeded even my own expectations in retrospect... To be perfectly honest, I think that the committee which asked for my resignation was sick. They are basicly good people who have been influenced by their own checkered history, into making terrible mistakes, devaluing people. This is not totally their fault. This behavior has gone unchecked for soooo long, why should anyone question it now. People in power in churches tend to remain in power.. or they leave and go somewhere else and attempt to gain power. It is a sickness when abused, and a great blessing when those skills are put to good use.

When someone like me bucks the system, the system will fight back... I got slam dunked, and have learned from it... The institution of the church has done a lot of things that it should not be proud of, but those negatives are right along side the mass of positives. It is not for me to really judge. I am here to serve, and with churches, I serve at the pleasure of the leadership. I am angry at people who acted inappropriately and were hurtful to me personally, but I forgive them... I am disappointed in my church, but after time, not so angry. I hope that my departure has caused many to question who they are, and what they do, and why they do it. I love them all, each of them... I forgive them.. It is in my nature, to offer myself up again and again and again. For the future, the trick is to do so without compromising my kids' spiritual growth and development.

My fear of institutional wrath these days, has little to do with my own life, and everything to do with the life of my children. Working for a church is a calling but it is also a job. I was called by God to minister in his name. I can do that without working for a church. My role as a father must take precedence over any job. I have to feel out exactly what that means. Time will tell.. reality is often messy.. but I trust and believe that it will work out.. Besides, God has already provided me many different jobs.. why do I need more..:)

For now... I can't take any more "wrath". I used up my shields.. and took some damage. I need to rest and repair.. then seek out a new mission. With time, and prayer, I believe God will show me his plan and provide opportunity.

Scripture focus for dealing with institutions..Paul and Peter write all about it.. and Jesus' example is pretty clear. For real insight, you should study the entire book of Galations.. ( I am doing that now, along with 1 Peter and 2nd Peter) but here is a start...

Galations 1:6-10 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

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