Friday, August 12, 2011

Messy Church

A few years ago I watched a TV program called Dog Town; the show video-journalled the goings-on at an animal shelter for dogs. A stray dog came in that had massive infection from a wound that had been left unattended. The shelter’s veterinarians were not sure if the dog was going to make it. Part of the healing process was to cut away at the infectious and diseased tissue because any effort to encourage new growth would be overtaken by the rot in the flesh of the animal. It was painful to watch, and it must have been very painful for the dog but it had to undergo this treatment on its way to health and wellness.

The church I’ve attended for 8 years is going through the same painful and messy process. After a season of purging almost all of the “old” staff and whittling down the congregation from 1,100 to 600, the lead pastor was eventually asked for a resignation. Anyone who’s been through that at a church, understand how uncovered someone feels when the leader is gone.

It wasn’t only the past season of turmoil that led the church to this point ; instead it is a result of past wounds that were not cleaned and healed before trying to propagate new growth.  In a previous post, I wrote about the unofficial motto of the church, ‘church for people who don’t like church’. When we start with a negative concept, it’s unlikely it’s going to get better.

It’s easy to say that God has left the building – and many have said that as they left the church but that simply isn’t true. God is at work - in this church, in my region and around the world. It’s curious that most church goers agree the [global] church is in trouble and it can’t keep going on in the same fashion but when something happens, we complain. How is it going to change if things don’t get shaken up? A sick church with a band-aid is still a sick church.

Instead of laying blame or worrying about ourselves, why not step back and get a heavenly perspective? Heaven worships Jesus Christ, under who are all things. He is the overcomer and through him we are also overcomers. Worship is never a wrong response. God is in control; our [new creation] response should be to worship.

Operating in a reactive state when under pressure blinds you to when opportunity knocks because you are too overwhelmed and frustrated to see it. Unplug from that negativity by letting go of the need to react, and return to a place of being still. From there you can interact with all the dynamics in play as if in a dance, and regain your bearings, see the bigger picture, and bring out the best in others and yourself. ~Dr. Mark Chironna

A second response is to keep our tongues from dishonouring the Lord’s anointed. All authority has been put in place by the Lord. By definition of the word all, that would include a pastor. A great example of honouring someone whom God had anointed is David and Saul. Even though Saul was predisposed towards disposing David, David laments for Saul, the Lord’s anointed, when he is killed. (2 Samuel 1:16-17)

Clean up is not pleasant, and it’s going to be a long road for the church – the remaining leadership, staff and congregation, but God is faithful. He who began a good work, will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ.

Have you ever gone through a messy church experience? What did you learn from it?

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