Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Clueless Cleric

Our children decided when they were teens that they wanted nothing to do with The Church. Pastors, parishioners, and pew sitters were judgmental hypocrites who would rather point fingers than build relationship.

That, sadly, was our church experience.

The other night I went to an event and sat at a table with a former nemesis – the pastor who decided I should be fired from my church job because I got involved with community theatre. Our kids were devastated when they watched the pastor's critical condemnations break my heart and spirit. I was angry at the time, not only because of how he treated me, but because his actions so profoundly and negatively affected our kids and their faith.

Despite the pain of the past, I'm always cautiously open to restoration. My former boss asked about the kids. I shared their comings and goings, including the fact that one of our kids is an atheist.

"You know," said the man, "one of our sons had doubts about his faith when he was fired from a church and treated so unfairly."

Now, at this point in the conversation I could have said, "Hmmmm....what a coincidence. You're the one whose actions caused my children to lose their faith." 

But I chose to listen.

He proceeded to tell me just a bit more about how hurt his son had been and how he again found his faith. I realized that he's clueless as to how his behavior affects people. He doesn't see himself in the actions of others.

I love the book UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. The book reveals the results of research that exposes how church outsiders see Christians, and how very clueless we are about how we are being perceived. I could've written that book a decade ago, and I don't need the Barna Group to give me research data. I've witnessed unimaginable hypocrisy first hand. According to the book and the data they collected, church leaders are woefully unaware of how their actions negatively impact both insiders and outsiders.

Get off the pew and look in the mirror. We are being watched, examined, hated, loved, emulated, and shunned. We're going to mess up, and when we do, we need to fess up. Being Jesus with skin on isn't easy, but it's who we ought to be.

Get off the pew!

1 comment:

  1. Amen. You might like my blog post, Invisible Pulpits: