One of my friends posted a comment yesterday in regards to the post about the church who “purged” people from it’s congregation because of their lack of committment (see a couple of posts down). Jason wrote:
Posted by: jason – E-mail=[mailto:email@example.com] Homepage= at March 16, 2005 23:22:18
Do you have an opinion on this? Sounds a little over-the-top to me. And by “a little”, I mean “a lot”.
Even though they try to make it clear to non-Christians and fence-riders that the invitiation to “get out” isn’t meant for them, can you imagine how it must look to these folks?
I don’t suspect it looks good. Is paternalistic control over individual members a good-making feature of a christian community?
I would be turned off—well, right after I was kicked out.
My opinion. I agree with Jason that it seems a little over the top. In my own ministry I cannot imagine myself in a position of asking someone to leave because they were less committed. But I could see myself asking people to get involved in the life of the community, and encourage them in that journey. Very few people who attend church (at least in my experience) and are ones that we tend to deem as not committed, are actually a drain, or some type of parasite (if I can use that word) to the church body. Most of them are great people who are trying to find a place to fit in.
So here’s what I am wondering? Maybe it’s not so much the people that are coming into our churches who are not committed, but maybe there is something wrong with the way we do church. Maybe we’ve made Christianity and church too much of a spectator “event” with the way we have structred things? Maybe people sitting in a 3000 seat sanctuary is not the most conducive to growing in the Christian life? Maybe the bigger a church gets, and the more staff that is needed, may actually make the people in a congregation less committed, because they tend to sit around and watch the “paid pastors” do the work?
Maybe Christianity is just hard work, and we expect it to be easy? Maybe we need to look at ourselves as the church, and as pastors, rather than always pointing out the problems with the congregants?
I love what Eugene Peterson said in his interview with Christianity Today.
(Christianity Today Question)
“Since the Reformation, though, we’ve championed the idea that the church can be reformed.”
(Eugene Peterson’s response)
“Hasn’t happened. I’m for always reforming, but to think that we can get a church that’s reformed is just silliness.”
“I think the besetting sin of pastors, maybe especially evangelical pastors, is impatience. We have a goal. We have a mission. We’re going to save the world. We’re going to evangelize everybody, and we’re going to do all this good stuff and fill our churches. This is wonderful. All the goals are right. But this is slow, slow work, this soul work, this bringing people into a life of obedience and love and joy before God.
And we get impatient and start taking shortcuts and use any means available. We talk about benefits. We manipulate people. We bully them. We use language that is just incredibly impersonalâbullying language, manipulative language.”
(Christianity Today’s Question)
“One doesn’t normally think of churches as bullying.”
(Eugene Peterson’s response)
“Whenever guilt is used as a tool to get people to do anythingâgood, bad, indifferentâit’s bullying. And then there’s manipulative languageâto talk people into programs, to get them involved, usually by promising them something.
I have a friend who is an expert at this sort of thing. He’s always saying, “You’ve got to identify people’s felt needs. Then you construct a program to meet the felt needs.” It’s pretty easy to manipulate people. We’re so used to being manipulated by the image industry, the publicity industry, and the politicians that we hardly know we’re being manipulated.
This impatience to leave the methods of Jesus in order to get the work of Jesus done is what destroys spirituality, because we’re using a non-biblical, non-Jesus way to do what Jesus did. That’s why spirituality is in such a mess as it is today.”