Saturday, October 25, 2014

God vs. the Church

Started reading Diane Keaton's memoir about her mother "Then Again." I'm always interested in what celebrities have to say about God. Though she grew up attending a Free Methodist church with her family, early on in the book Keaton goes out of her way to flat out reject the God of the Bible. 

Keaton clearly understood that Jesus was crucified and was raised from the dead to save us from our sins, but she could not process certain negative aspects preached by the pastors in her church – how Christ's blood needed to be shed, etc. While reading this chapter of the book on CD, Keaton's tone changed from cheery and bright to grim and determined. Instead of working out these issues she closed them off and pushed God out her of life.

Church issues are interesting. Some rambling thoughts, to help clarify things in my own mind: SPdL is so unique since it is in Buckhead, as opposed to the suburbs or a less affluent intown area like Decatur. Johnson Ferry has all kinds of staff members – dozens. Money is less of an issue.

Smaller churches here in East Cobb may have similar problems as SPdL. Smaller churches have smaller staffs, so any staff turnover may be based on money issues, and hit home harder. My son may be seeing some of the same issues at the small church in Athens. The trendier churches only hire the young, trendy staff members that the kids love. These people rarely go to work at the more established churches, where growing membership and attracting young families is harder.

When a person stays in one place for a long time, like a church or a job, things change from the good old days. Staff members grow old and move on. Young church members graduate, go off to college, get jobs, and move away. Some want change, and sometimes people are hurt. Since humans are involved, is it really a surprise?

Kinda like the 'real world.' I've worked at the same place for 28 years. Done a great job, in my opinion. At some point I could be let go. I will be hurt and upset, but I shouldn't be surprised.

It is unfortunate when good church staff members are let go. New pastors want to bring in their own people. Or there's not enough money in the budget. Long time church members don't like the decision. What if the minister does a bad job? Was it God's will that they were hired, and therefore they shouldn't be fired? Or was it a bad hiring decision by a human being? Where do you draw the line? I ask because I do not know.

People equate bad things that happen in churches to God being unkind, evil, unloving, less than who He really is. Should God be blamed when fallible humans act supposedly in His name? Imperfect people (all of us) sometimes make imperfect decisions. We live in a fallen world.

My hope is people can keep their relationship with God separate from how they feel about what goes on in the church. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

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