August 06, 2007

New Meeting Time

Never again will I attend an elders' meeting that takes place Sunday morning before worship. From now on, elders' meetings need to take place in the evening, so that afterward, instead of leading worship, I can go home and cry.

Yesterday's monthly meeting forcused, as it always does, on the church's financial situation. Never mind that we worship a God of abundance, or that we should perhaps discuss spiritual needs as well as financial needs; the focus is always on what we can't do, not on what we can.

Eventually one elder looked right at me and said, "If we ever get to the point where we have to choose between a building and our pastor, I'll take the building." The way he said it made it clear that he was directing his comment at me personally.

Granted, everyone expects comments like this from this person. That's just the type of person he is. Nevertheless, I was tempted to respond by saying that the next time he needed pastoral care, I'd send him a couple of roof shingles instead.

Obviously, I said no such thing. The truth is, as mean as he can be, I still love him. That's one of the occupational hazards of being a pastor, I guess, or perhaps of being a Christian in general: we can't help but continue to love even those who are mean to us in return.

I have some friends who have a church that meets in their living room on Sunday evenings. (Yes, their church has a pastor, but no building.) I went to worship at their house last night because, as I told my wife, "I need to experience worship where I don't have to preach, and where I'm reminded that people like myself are, in fact, more important that non-living structures built of wood." I'm glad I went. Worshiping with my friends, I was indeed reminded that I am God's child, holy and beloved.

I don't know why he is so mean and viscious to people. Perhaps he has some hidden pain buried so deep within him that even he is unaware of its presence or influence. But I do know that, no matter what he says or how he acts, I will continue to love him as best I can. It's what I'm called to do. It's the only way I know how to respond.

Well, that, and changing the time of our meetings.


Dan said...

Man, this is heartbreaking. Good move, changing the date/time of the meetings. It's too bad that your elders don't understand what the calling to eldership is really all about.

I'm glad to hear that you have an "outside" place to worship. That's important for your spiritual health.

Additionally, you should be proud. You're a better man than I. I probably wouldn't have been so nice and would have said those things you wanted to say. I probably would also have sent him the shingles, and charged the postage COD.

Blessings on your ministry.

Brian said...

Thanks for the post. I don't think any church moves ahead if all they are concerned about is what they can't do or don't have. I think finding a place where you can worship is a great idea and it sounds like you had a good experience at the house church. We should all follow your example!

Guido said...

Sorry that happened.
I have felt that animosity and this gentleman is a leader of the church, an elder. Argh!!!
Hang in there.
fearless joy,

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


Wow!! I've gone through difficult times with a past church, but generally not with the Elders. It sounds as if you need to work with the nominating committee to help refashion an eldership committed to God's vision for the community (both inside and outside the walls) rather than in maintenance of the building.

Praying for you!

Purple Hydrangea said...


I am so sorry this continues to be a problem. You know that you and the church, this elder also, are always in my heart and prayers. I hope that you are able to continue trying to refocus the direction some people are trying to (i want to say take) KEEP the church in...

love and prayers --