I wish I could say that my journey as a Christ-follower has been flawless, or almost near-flawless.
Alas, I cannot.
And neither can you.
One of the things that deeply troubles my spirit is the way some "local church" leaders carry out their "ministry." I have heard and seen way too many situations where the leadership was downright abusive to the parishioners under their care. I know of one pastor who absolutely will 'trash' anyone who dares to disagree with any given point that he proposes.
It is truly sad. Many good people have left that congregation, because they did not have the freedom to "disagree" with anything. I made the mistake of telling this pastor that I was responsible for maintaining my own household, paying my bills, working a full-time job, and making sure that "personal things" were accomplished. This pastor couldn't understand why I did not spend "every single available minute" at the "church doing things."
And I caught the "wrath" when I just couldn't take the abuse and deception any more.
I've seen it happen to many people in FAR TOO MANY places.
I've also seen "abusive congregations" who are terribly difficult on every staff person who ever comes to serve them. I've seen congregations who will withhold their offerings and tithes just because they don't like the pastor, or something the he/she has said, or supposedly done.
I've seen congregations who absolutely didn't want "those kind of people in our church"--and refused to entertain the thought that maybe GOD HIMSELF had brought the "undesirables" (in their estimation, not mine) to them.
It's time for the "church" to stop abusing itself. It's time for pastors and others in leadership to think about "God's sheep in their care"--not their sheep...but GOD'S SHEEP.
It's time for local churches to stop abusing the "shepherds" whom God brings to them. This is GOD'S SERVANT....not "your hireling."
A couple of years ago I was privileged to speak in a local congregation where a friend of mine is the senior pastor. Afterwards, one of the parishioners cornered me to tell me about how certain "people in this church" had abused their families, their positions, and their reputations.
I hurt for that person (whether they were telling me the truth or not), and I hurt for that local church.
I've been around 'the church' all my life. I know how wonderfully helpful and healing the "local church" can be. And sadly, I have experienced how very harmful and damaging and abusive the local church can be as well.
So one of the great "Church issues" in my opinion, is that we (the church) become "non-abusive"--and we can do it.
I know we can.