Offending Others to Stumble

I have been busy looking for a new church home due to some issues that have come up with the leadership.

It is hard to find a place you fit in and one that clicks with what you believe, but when you need to leave you need to leave.

The issue that caused the break was between the head pastor and my wife.  Now he is a good pastor and a wonderful teacher, but he started a separate ministry from the church that took up a great deal of his time.  It took up so much time that he needed someone else to step in as head pastor.  From what I understand of the situation, he basically told the elder board that he needed someone else to lead the church while he built the ministry or he was gone for good.  The board went along with the request and we got a new head pastor.

Now the new head pastor had several leadership issues that he struggled with and the struggle caused a rift in the church.  The new head pastor did do some good things while in the church, but the damage was far too great for him to remain the head pastor.  He stepped down and the old head pastor came back.  He apologized for leaving and the hurt that was caused with the last head pastor and promised to never leave again.

The problem with that is that he did once again step down and the elder body raised up the second pastor and made him the lead.  Once again he had issues with leadership styles and the church was hurt again.  When they replaced the new head pastor this time, several who were loyal to him left while the old pastor came back.  This is where my wife took offense.

In her mind, when he promised not to leave again and then did so, he broke her trust and she took offense at that.  This is something that she struggles to forgive, but I have faith that the forgiveness will occur.  Her lack of trust is not limited to the head pastor but the elder body as well.  They are the ones who are charged with guiding the church, yet they made big mistakes that seemed contrary to what God desired.  If they are not listening to God to make their decisions, can we truly trust them to lead the church in the direction that God has deemed appropriate?

What I have struggled with in my thoughts is that even though it is wrong for my wife to not forgive the head pastor, I wondered if he held any responsibility for the hurt that he caused.

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.  (Mat 18:6-7)

With the recent issue with George Zimmerman being found not guilty of breaking the law in the State of Florida, there was a huge backlash because we all knew he was guilty of contributing to the situation.  If  he never would have followed Trayvon, then the events most likely would not have gone the way that they did.  In the same way, if the head pastor had not broken his word to pursue his other ministry, my wife would not have felt betrayed by him or the church.  It is my wife’s choice to be offended and her choice to not forgive, but he still had a part in her actions.

I wonder how many of us have played a part of some sort in the stumbling of a person.  How many times have our words or actions fallen short of the glory of God and caused an offense to occur with someone else?

When we look at the current state of the Church and the departure by those in the millennial generation, is there a chance that our action or reaction to some social issue contribute to them leaving?

The Exodus International Apology

 I first heard about the public apology from various Christian posts on Facebook, so as Facebook goes, I had no idea what was true and what was not.

There are many parts to the apology that I have to agree with.  The Church should never have condoned members shouting “sodomite” at anyone who was gay.  The Church should never have persecuted people because they are gay.  The Church should never have condoned the bullying of people that some of its members could not understand.  People have died over the “love” that some members of the Church have shown to the LGBTQ community.

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.” – Alan Chambers

All who are Christians should embrace this part of the public apology and let that guide them in all future actions.

“More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.” – Alan Chambers

 I differ on the notion of “inseverable”, but the message that we need to start out with is that of grace, mercy and the open invitation to all to begin a relationship with the Living God.