Not Done Lightly (2-A)

Alert Reader "jmv7000" asked this:
I agree that a good portion of people leave churches for wrong reasons. Much of it stems from a "I'm not getting what I want" mentality. Your self-pastor analysis is spot on and a reflection of our culture.

But what do you do when your church hires a Sr. pastor who is not dedicated to Scripture, more interested in numbers than spiritual growth, and begins "market driven" projects to bring more people in? The Bible is no longer central to the message, but rather a retelling of books on the Christian best-seller list. And your elders believe this is the direction the church needs to head?
Factually, I am sure my friend Phil Johnson, and the folks at GTY, would say that at some point you leave. I respect why they say that, and I respectfully disagree.

My primary answer looks like this, and my larger answer includes the massive question: is the church where you go, or where you live?

You know: I get a lot of flack for telling people, "Be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day." And I get that flack from people who are very "on" about the church not being a building.

Well, duh. But that complaint is both not sufficient to make the complaint they are making but also actually a devastating critique of the philosophical apparatus we us to decide to "leave" a "church".

Let's say that, in fact, your previously-beloved church has now selected Steven Furtick (google him) as your new pastor of vision and teaching (po-lease). How does something like that happen in a church which was previously healthy, do you think?

Here's my answer: it doesn't. Which means you have to come to grips with the fact that your church picked a pastor who reflects who they really are -- which is who they were before they picked him. It means you can walk into the place now disabused of the idea (which, I am sure you would say in a nicer way) that somehow God protected your church from being a church full of Corinthians, Galatians, Laodacians and publicans like that guy over there who looks like he's asleep with his head down like that.

Your church is what it is. In fact, it is what it was, and now you can see that clearly. It's covered in dirty fingerprints, and some of them are yours. See: it's not just a building you attend or somehow underwrite -- it's a community of people with whom you should have more than a passing acquaintance.

With that bit of self-assessment out of the way: so what? I mean: whadddaya do? The natural tendancy of the bloggerreadus apologeticus is to hit somebody -- theologically, of course, but with great zeal. Who can I hit for the most effective apologetic tackle before this thing gets too far down the field?

That's the wrong impulse -- because the church is not a building.

The right impulse looks like 1 Cor 1-2; it looks like John 13-14-15; it looks like the end of Acts 2; it looks like Titus 2 and 1 Tim 1:5.

That is: you gotta love somebody like Jesus loved somebody (you) in order to set them straight. The church is not a building, and thus Grace begets grace. In doing that, you can (and will) earn a place at the table so that when there comes a time for offering advice, somebody might want yours -- because you look like what they really want.

And here's the kicker: if they don't want your advice after that, they will unquestionably tell you. They will, in fact, ask you to leave.

And in that eventuality, leave. Shake the dust off your feet. Know that they are not rejecting you but rejecting Him to whom you belong.

Some people say, "Know what you believe and why you believe it," right? But then you have to know what to do with what you believe -- for it to cross over from knowledge or data into wisdom, it has to have a life-action value. The aim of Paul's charge is love from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and a sincere faith.

Try that for a couple-5 years before you say it's not a good strategy, and remember to leave if they ask you to leave.

It's worth it.