‘You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.’ –Deut. 25:13-6.
I have not confirmed whether the text of the church coach’s ‘report’ on the state of the church is a matter of public record, and thus have opted not to post it at this time. Instead, I include a snapshot of my emotional state after reading it. This is not meant to be a representation of all that the report said, nor is the anger and frustration directed toward all members of A. Of course, I would claim that the report’s globalizing generalizations about the church were thoroughly irresponsible, though there was and is a not insignificant contingent who were playing the role of the malcontents among the Israelites in the wilderness. What is just as problematic as the inflating of the numbers of the unhappy (attested to by council members) is the uncritical way in which their opinions are not only reported, but implicitly granted credibility and validity, and on which it was worth taking swift action (to ameliorate feelings? Or to seem to be acting to ameliorate them?) without investigation or even biblical reflection on the attitudes which produced them.
NB: When I use the term ‘congregation’ or ‘people’ in some places below, I am not referring to the actual congregation as whole, but to the ‘congregation’ as represented and described in the report.
4 September 2015
Where is Jesus? This could have been written for any secular organization with relationship issues.
Everything is the pastor’s fault. The congregation have no obligation, either to him, to God or to themselves.
They’re even found a way to blame PT for their apathy: ‘we don’t do anything—and it’s his fault! We don’t feel good, and it’s his fault!’ And back in February the church was described as a group wherein ‘nobody cares’, and as church that ‘doesn’t pray’. Again, now the congregation doesn’t have any weaknesses, bear any blame, or any areas which require some tending to and growth.
Using the word ‘discerning’ is ironic. And so is the use of the term ‘burnout’. They don’t know what burnout is. And they demand PT do more, more, more. Do they know what he does already? [author’s note: the answer to that is ‘No’. The Sundays following the suspension and termination saw skeletal bulletins; one Sunday, there hadn’t even been a worship order prepared! A hand-written note was found in the sanctuary with a jotting of hymnal numbers; one, ‘How Great Thou Art’, had been sung the week before, *sigh* People, if they thought about it, would have realized that neat, attractive, organized, tailored and varied orders of service didn’t just happen, 19 April 16]
The lack of Christian love, or even mere sympathy, should be devastating.
They don’t care about him. How he feels, how his circumstances have affected him, what he thinks about all of this. All these good Christian people don’t even feel the obligation to talk to him face to face.
Not only that, but it’s cruel to accuse someone of all these things without giving any examples either to apologize for or defend oneself against.
The letter shows the capitulation to the therapeutic culture—its vocabulary, its priorities, its loss of grip on reality, its way of assessing, framing, and addressing problems—that David Wells has talked about.
What is the truth? Where is God in all this?
And who gave the pastor a fair, uncontaminated hearing? Nobody.
It should be obvious to anyone with a sense of the spirits that this was all orchestrated by 13.
I sent it to myself so it could be opened via Kindle, but the thought of re-reading it makes me sick.
Turncoats, and inconsistent!
Who’s to blame for the fizzling out of the Care Group? What about the interaction with K*? What about Wisconsin?
How can someone be motivated to ‘step up his game’ or exert himself past his limits (already?) when all his previous efforts are ignored or disparaged? How is someone supposed to be motivated to visit people on their ‘home turf’, etc., (who does that anyway!?) when what he’s experienced from several is judgment, criticism (behind his back no less), and rejection, with no opportunity to respond or build bridges (plus just not being treated like a person who has feelings).
They (who?) complain about crying after messages. How can they possibly understand the anxiety, the doubts, the despair, the loneliness, of a being a pastor in this position and with Satan AND his own flock coming after him like this, and not giving him a moment’s peace? It’s unbelievable.
13’s managed to turn PT into a stranger or an enemy. No one thinks of or remembers him as the person he or she knows. These aren’t the remarks and actions of friends or neighbors. People ought to have been encouraged to talk to the pastor themselves. Instead they’ve been encouraged to stew and to ‘combine forces’, churning their own pot instead of looking for mutually beneficial solutions and meetings of the minds.
Like DV*. JMM said the ‘report’ is ‘useless’. Certain denominational officers: screwing over pastors, one church at a time, since at least 2006.
It’s time for a reality check. Good Christians don’t do what people in that community do all the time and get away with it. You can’t assume validity of opinion just because someone ‘lives there’ or ‘goes to church there’! The area is full of crap Christians and crap worldviews [like a lot of places!].
What has embittered them all? The departure of God’s blessing in the form of His Spirit.
Why can’t you see that so much of what’s happening is run by and centered on 13? It’s plain as day! And everyone else is taken in by him because he strokes their egos and helps them shift blame away from themselves.
Deception, confusion, discord
Nothing in that report about how the pastor feels betrayed, let down, and unheard.
What were people doing before you came? Running everything without needing a pastor?
How could PT be controlling everything when he’s been ill?
Need to break that stronghold—he’s laughing at us!!! And 13 is taking the church down a road, a course, from whose consequences the church will never recover.
13—kicking a man when he’s down, win at any cost. Why is he out to stick it to PT?
Used to be friends—54, doesn’t that strike you, trouble you?
Is this God-honoring behavior, worthy of lifetime church attendees?
Dear 19, I’ll cut to the chase. My dad is really depressed, and I’m very worried about his well-being and that of A. Did you ever get the email I wrote back in Jan/Feb? I fear I was very much in the right, and the situation is desperate. Please can you let me know if you ever got it and thought about it? I also noticed that people stopped responding to Care Group emails. Has it been allowed to fade out?
Pain? How cheap. No, there’s a difference of opinion. WHO IS RIGHT?
It’s not the way they think it is.
They’re deluded. They’re not as committed as they think—what about the small group sign-up? Teaching Sunday school? I came home from Christmas break and wrote a Xmas programme because no one else had time for it! DELUSIONAL!!
How can PT go on with the deck so stacked against him?
The deception is thick. Like black mud—sticking, oozing, binding, blinding.
This spirit is pitiless. And it drains all capacity for pity or tenderness in its carriers.
When we’re children, we’re disciplined for treating others badly. Our parents or teachers say, ‘How would you feel if someone said or did that to you?’ How could something so simple fall to the wayside? How could someone write a scathing email, receive a sincere, thoughtful apology back, and then not even acknowledge it? What kind of Christian behavior is that? And who is encouraging it? Who is causing the ‘pain’?
The ‘music’ plug serves 13 and his family. How nice.
Even people’s characters are being altered—they’re doing and saying things that are changing who they are as individuals and as Christians.
The job of the shepherd is to lead and teach the flock. The job of the flock is to follow and grow, and support the ministry if it’s God-honoring and biblical. It’s a two-way street. All I see is a list of demands on the shepherd, and unsupported, unexplained claims that the flock is being prevented from serving. [author’s note: again, 14 in her phone conversation with ekkles said both that getting people plugged in ‘would help them to mature’, which was somehow linked to people’s apathy, but then also said that the pastor wouldn’t relinquish control; it was hard to know who was who, how these issues related to each other, and also, whether some forms of ministry are right for use as ‘on the job training’, 19 April 16]
About oversight & committees: what if what some people want to do is unbiblical? Or doesn’t honor God? You can’t assume anything about where these people are at. They’re not as knowledgeable and mature as they think they are, or are being told they are.
History lesson: This started in earnest with the series on the person and work of the HS. This teaching was passively rejected
Alas the church
It’s a wee little thing.
Been little for a while. Why so?
It can’t be…because of us, could it?
There is a man in charge. Sort of.
We don’t really want him to be. But we need him as
A figurehead at least.
Gives us something to look to, to point at—
In case of need for a scapegoat.
We want more responsibility. Ish.
Or gift opportunities, whatever those are.
And yet—I don’t want anything to be my fault…
Perhaps I was prevented from acting—
Yes, that’s it! He wouldn’t let me!
I remember—though—one time—maybe twice
He opened the floor. He asked us all on that committee—
For input; it was a project.
Somehow I—we—didn’t find anything.
Did he end up doing it himself? Must have done.
Wasn’t my call at the time.
And there has been a care group.
But not anymore.
He was leading it. And now it’s gone.
That’s probably his fault too!
No matter that no one answered the emails.
If he doesn’t know why this is happening,
Well, I suppose someone should tell him.
Me? Why me?
That would be a bit awkward.
It’s easier to put in my complaints with HR.
Anonymity and vaguery suit me well.
They say they’ll make him change.
That suits me too!
My church isn’t growing—blame the pastor.
My kid is breaking God’s law—blame God.
Memory fades so fast. But I don’t recall feeling this way
A year ago.
And then it was as if the whole meeting house
Breathed out all its breath and warmth
Seeping out through the windows and at the door-jambs.
And a dusky, gray murk settled on us all.
I may have asked in passing what I did.
I know someone must have done something!
It was like someone took the chocolate chips out of my cookie.
When I pray it’s so densely quiet that there’s no room for an echo.
The pastor, he must have done it! He’s up there!
What he says, the feeling of the place, makes me sad.
Holy Spirit? Who’s He?
I begin to remember now—some months ago
I got a phone call from an elder
He told me I was great, smart, talented and all—
A pleasant opener.
Then he pressed me a bit—seemed to know something I didn’t—
Wasn’t I unhappy, and weren’t these the reasons why?
Didn’t I deserve to be fed—my way?
I’m sure I already
Had these opinions before.
Well, maybe not so sure.
What’s that? Scripture? Oh, a photo.
I do remember. That’s me, us, at the picnic that summer.
Hrm, that was nice. What?
I’m knitting my brow?
It’s nothing. It’s just—I don’t know what I’m thinking.
The church is in a bad way.
Someone said something about demons? Who did?
I don’t know anything about that.
But…that picture. It’s true, it wasn’t always like this.
I do not have a short memory!
Oh, you remind me…I did say that, didn’t I?
Why shouldn’t he do more?
I guess that also is true.
I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it. It was twice
In three years, wasn’t it?
Of course I’m a Christian! I’ve been here all my life.
He—well, he’s been running everything.
Won’t let anyone help. Sick?
Well, yes, I guess he was sick.
But he still had control?
Oh…I guess it’s my impression.
Oversight? There’s the Bible again.
You keep bringing that up.
I just want it to feel like family.
Even if it’s a dysfunctional one.
But he wants us to be serious!
I don’t know.—I haven’t asked Him.
You think He’s got an opinion?
I—don’t listen. I just—
Ask for what I want, really. Doesn’t everyone?
You’re right. It sounds bad.
I’m sure he’s still to blame—
He’s the man in charge, though we don’t want him to be.
The elder will fix that.
He said he’d straighten him out, tell him what to do.
He said he’d make him do what I want…
Doesn’t sound good, does it?
But it’s little, and desolate, and I won’t have it be my fault!
You do talk about the Bible a lot.
I wonder…what do I really think?
Can it—can it be that—maybe we aren’t so great?