Are they a bunch of teenage girls?
Friday, February 26, 2010
And now, a little spying. A few days ago my husband was talking to someone from a local congregation that is interested in having him help them out for a while, and maybe to call him eventually if they can gather the funds. An elder from our congregation was in the same coffee shop and apparently eavesdropping on their conversation and thought there must be something untoward about. The elder didn't speak to my husband, but he reported the conversation to the senior pastor.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It's very early in the morning. Still an hour or more before the rest of my family wakes up but I can't sleep.
On this blog I've tried to capture the emotional essence of my experience without describing events in specific because, really, who cares? This isn't a historical account. Today I just have to cut to the chase.
My husband is resigning from our congregation. The meeting a couple of days ago was with the church council to discuss his intention. The council members seemed to get it - why he is leaving, what their responsibility is to us as we go, that this is a big risk for us. The senior pastor and congregation president, on the other hand...
Were I to write a novel about church conflict, I could not invent a scene to more clearly express the interpersonal and managerial ineptitude that plagues this congregation. My husband described briefly how the congregation president and senior pastor have made it clear that they require we leave the church. Responses from council members were varied, but all compassionate and involved. Cong. president said little until confronted and senior pastor sat in the back of the room reading a book. Bizarre is kindest description I can muster.
The very good news is that there is an end date. The bad news is that I do not feel relieved. I am &%#)!# angry. I don't know what I thought was going to happen. I suppose I hoped that senior pastor would make some small gesture of regret, apology, compassion. He has known of my husband's intention to resign for several weeks and continues to be all business. Sometimes I imagine that he might try to say goodbye to me in some noble, we-wish-you-well sort of way and I might smack him. It seems so satisfying in my imagination.
Monday, February 22, 2010
My husband has a meeting tonight with several members of our congregation. It is very important that the conflict be discussed honestly, but we have reason to believe that many of the people he'll be with are in extreme denial about the intensity of the conflict between my husband and the senior pastor.
It is physically painful for me that I cannot alleviate the anxiety or stress of this for my husband. I rely on the confidence that God will be at that meeting and that He works in the hearts of all the people there. Please pray that everyone there tonight will speak the truth in love and hear the truth in love.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The last several weeks have not gone smoothly for me at church. A series of problems involving the kids -- sickness, tears and pleas for me to stay in Sunday school, multiplied misbehavior during worship -- has disrupted my plan every week.
I am an excessively self-aware parent. I regularly evaluate my own behavior and attitudes and try to decipher how I am affecting my children. I have purposely avoided analyzing our Sunday morning misadventures. There are so many reasonable explanations: they are young, there are three of them, it is winter, they are tired, I am tired.
I'm losing patience with these explanations, though. I'm pretty sure the stress I feel on Sunday is getting them wound up. I don't have any idea what I might do about it. Sunday is stressful. I want desperately to be at church and to be glad I'm there. No matter what I pray, or read, or try to think about during worship, the underlying conflict erupts somewhere.
The weeks ahead promise to be more complicated than the last few months. We are developing plans to move away from this situation and transition brings anxiety and conflict up from the locked closet in the basement.
This week someone reminded me of how "late" Jesus was when his dear friend Lazarus became sick. Lazarus was dead by the time Jesus got there. If Jesus had shown up when people thought he should, then the miracle of Lazarus' resurrection would not have happened. I cannot fix my Sunday morning stress, but I can try to be patient and trust God for the outcome.
This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. John 11:4
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I've been following the Church Whisperer blog, which deals with church conflict, and this post particularly struck me. It's a meditation on Luke 7:41-47, in which Jesus explains the connection between being forgiven and forgiving. The kind of transparency and humility he describes is exactly what I crave in a congregation.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
At church this weekend I was surprised by unsolicited kind comments from a couple of church members. A man I know only a little, and who I would not have assumed to be fond of my husband's ministry style, was chatting with my kids and told them, "Your dad is a good pastor. One of the best!"
So sweet and so poignant. I realized, as I sometimes have before, that the conflict here is localized to just a few people who happen to be very powerful in this congregation. I've heard that major church conflict is usually confined to 7-10 vocal critics. Our experience seems to support that theory.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I like a plan. I really, really want a plan. We have a good one going now and I've enjoyed the fantasy that I know what/where/how life will be for a few months.
Several years ago I felt like my life was too boring and predictable and I craved adventure and variety. Now I want stability and predictability more than most anything else. A side-effect of parenthood, perhaps?
A few days ago my husband got a note from someone inviting him to consider a new ministry opportunity. He seemed excited about the idea but I wanted to smash his computer and unplug the telephone. I couldn't sleep that night. At midnight I was the on the couch with a blanket over my head to muffle the sound of my screaming. I cried so hard my nose bled and then I was in the laundry room spraying stain remover on said blanket.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
How do you balance hurt feelings with compassion for the jerk who hurt you?
I suppose not calling him a jerk would help.
I am absolutely sure that senior pastor is making decisions that he considers good, responsible, Christian. I am also absolutely sure that, from my perspective, he seems to be a poor manager, self-centered, short-sighted, lacking compassion, and sometimes just mean. "Mean" implies evil intention, which I do not believe he has. I feel like he does.
I want so much to let go of this guy. Why do I care what he does or thinks or feels about Husband or me? Don't I have better things to do? It's like he creeps up on me when I'm trying to ignore him. I've been browsing the book Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend. They describe healthy boundaries as permeable in a specific way: allowing good to come in, and keeping bad out. I'm sure that trying to make sense of a relationship that has persisted in senselessness qualifies as "bad" that would be better kept out.