Tuesday, November 3, 2009

While the Preacher Wasn't Looking

A preacher I know - someone who is not likely ever to read this column - is in real trouble. His church is dissolving into a virtual civil war of infighting and general dissatisfaction. People have left, are leaving, and will leave steadily until there is nothing left but a hollow shell. The pastor has not been capable of addressing the situation or handling it properly. He has not known what to do. Instead, he has made himself absent most of the time, preferring a perpetual vacation to the angst of having to face a disintegrating church. Do not be too quick to judge this man. He did not directly create this mess, and he surely did not intend it to happen. He has been a pastor for many years and he is worn out from the onslaught of competing church members. Retirement is looking better and better. Anything is better that the current debacle.

What caused this situation? One or two church members -underlings; a lay person whose position allowed him (or her?) opportunity to become the unofficial "church boss." This person has succeeded in agitating for the direction he wants the church to go. He works behind the scenes to dictate the church program, music, special events, and anything else that appeals to this person and elevates his power. But you say, "How could a pastor let this happen?" This problem situation happens all the time because pastors are notorious for letting their attention be taken up by other issues - the various needs and burdens of individual church families, Bible study, preparing to preach, visiting the lost, the sick, the afflicted. While the pastor is looking one way, the "church boss," or wanna-be boss, is working in another. Pastors have - and need - deacons to help him keep an eye on all the activity going on around him. Pastors and their families need good vigilant church members who are alert to the plague of bossism in church.

This is a plea to churches and church members to cease and desist from all the church politics, the infighting and backbiting, the petty jealousy and self-serving competition that grows like a cancer, eating a church from the inside. Many a church could have its epitaph written over the door of an empty building: "Here lies the remains of a once thriving church. Death by suicide."

No comments:

Post a Comment