We met at the church at 8 PM. My wife had asked to speak to the pastor. He said that he would have to run that idea by the elders first. (?) Then we were given some meeting options, and chose to meet with the pastor and our shepherding elder on that Thursday evening.
I agree to attend, but I wanted my wife to know that I did not want to get in the way of her expressing what was on her heart. How she had been hurt by the pastor's "suggestion" that we would be happier at another church. How in her current state, caring for her dying father at our home, and other struggles, and feeling alone and rejected by the church. How the messages she hears are a drain on her, both because they are nothing but a list of do's and don't, and because the very things spoken of in many a message have not been shown to us in the behavior of the leadership. She spoke of her hurt and frustration, sometimes to the point of tears. It was hard to watch, but I knew that I had to let her say her peace. And I am proud of her, because I know how difficult it was for her, she hates confrontation.
For the most part, the pastor said little. At one point, he defended himself, saying that he had sent a postcard to let us know that he was praying for us. But then he stated that he was hurt, because we had not acknowledged receiving the postcard. Really? I guess we blew that one.
After she was finished, I voiced a few concerns that I had. But I was again reminded that anything that the pastor says from the pulpit is off-limits. Although our shepherd offered to get together with me if I felt the need to discuss things further. But the pastor was just too busy a man to be bothered with such things. I took him up on the offer as we concluded the meeting.
We agree to meet for breakfast on Saturday at church that Sunday. I really felt that I was able to express some of my concerns. I spoke of how the sermons were focused on how to live, and not the why. But the how is supposed to be an effect of the why. If we never hear the cause of our actions, but only hear what we are doing wrong, that only builds frustration. Most people know what kind of behavior is expected of them, what they need to hear is how to change it. We talk about life-change, but then present a message of, "Here are the changes you need to make." What about the gospel? What about the beauty of Christ? I spoke of the past Sunday's message, one in which a crippled beggar had been healed. Did Jesus do this just to teach us a moral lesson? Is it really just about choosing action over apathy? Or choosing to give glory to God? Not that these are not good things, but they are nothing without the heart that goes with it. (1 Cor 13:1-3) What did Peter do after the man was healed? Did he tell the people to go out and be better people, or did he preach a gospel message to draw people to Christ? (If you don't know, the answer is the latter, read that rest of Acts 4)
I was told that he could not see a flaw in my reasoning. But, our pastor was not about to change the way he preaches. I was then told that the pastor feels that I am attacking him, and that for the sake of my wife and children, I need to adjust my attitude. I need to listen to the sermons and see what I can glean from them. I am the problem.
Just to let you know, I went home and thought about his response. Quite frankly, the more I did, the more I could not accept it. I saw him on Sunday. I thanked him for meeting with me for breakfast. I also told him that I thought he was wrong, and I asked him how, in light of the sermon that had just been preached, could he feel that his reaction was appropriate? He said he would pray for me.
Maybe I'll get a postcard too.