My mind and heart are not at rest.
The message is losing its power and I do not feel peaceful about where the future leads in regards to the momentum that began weeks ago.
We are still missing the larger problem and message, though the bruising and stains were touched upon recently. Large audiences were watching, many voices were heard, changes were made, yet the silence is still deafening. It’s as if the church convention body, like a beaver, has simply built a temporary diversion for the flow of the river, in this case the voices of the victims, which merely created a pool in which we can feel safer. While the changes were needed and Paige Patterson needed to be publicly removed, it is only a step. What will happen next? Will it matter in the actual crisis of the church a year from now? Ten years from now? Or will there be more to come?
Using archery and target practice as a visual, I feel unrest because only the larger portions of the outer rings of the target were hit. Paige Patterson may represent in many ways the core of the target just by position and leadership. In many ways most feel that since Paige was voted out, new leadership is at the helm, an example was made, meetings were held, votes were cast, forums begun…many feel a change is in motion and that we are well on our way.. However, I feel unrest, we only skipped a stone across the surface. So much lies underneath, the springs are still largely dry as many at the depths are still holding back the natural flows of the power and love of Christ. Things will largely become secondary and complacent again far too quickly. Yes, some churches will heed the cries for dealing with the atrocities of crimes against women and children within the church, yet at my core, I believe that the ripple effects will go largely unattended and therefore more temporary dams will be built, one by one. The health of the river and the success of the archer all depend on the flow and the site settings. A beaver sets up his dam with knowledge of the flow of the river and what is needed to change the flow in order to allow a safe place to build its home. An archer or hunter must set their site properly in order to hit center mass of its target. So the church must really, fully gauge the flow of their message, the body of the water, and the resulting target of the message. We are no where near these goals as a full body. It is all fragmented, we have only just begun the practice.
Several times this last week I have wrestled with a message, I am aware it will be largely misunderstood, it may be criticized by some as pessimism, thus I have not written until today. As I read an article today that allowed me to see I am not the only one with this feeling. We have merely scratched the surface, in fact, that is generous. Truly, we have only begun to acknowledge a problem publicly that many have been crying out about for decades. It was finally acknowledged, that is all. The real work is still to come.
This article Truth Is In Crisis
shows me that others are thinking the same. We need to do more. We must keep pushing, we must continue the conversations, we need a revolution of hearts and minds.
In the American Revolution, the hearts of the people revolutionized change. In John Adams words, the war was effected before it commenced. This powerful portion of his letter is a great reminder:
“The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People. A Change in their Religious Sentiments of their Duties and Obligations. While the King, and all in Authority under him, were believed to govern, in Justice and Mercy according to the Laws and Constitutions derived to them from the God of Nature, and transmitted to them by their Ancestors— they thought themselves bound to pray for the King and Queen and all the Royal Family, and all the Authority under them, as Ministers ordained of God for their good. But when they Saw those Powers renouncing all the Principles of Authority, and bent up on the destruction of all the Securities of their Lives, Liberties and Properties, they thought it their Duty to pray for the Continental Congress and all the thirteen State Congresses, etc”
Like our recent unveiling of leadership failings for decades, John Adams further illustrates here the change of thought:
“There might be, and there were others, who thought less about Religion and Conscience, but had certain habitual Sentiments of Allegiance And Loyalty derived from their Education; but believing Allegiance and Protection to be reciprocal, when Protection was withdrawn, they thought Allegiance was dissolvedAnother Alteration was common to all. The People of America had been educated in an habitual Affection for England as their Mother-Country; and while they Thought her a kind and tender <, Start deletion,
> Parent, (erroneously enough, however, for She never was Such a Mother,) no Affection could be more Sincere. But when they found her a cruel Beldam willing, like Lady Macbeth, to “dash their Brains out,” it is no Wonder if their fillial Affections ceased and were changed into Indignation and horror.”
We should feel an uprising of indignation and horror at the atrocities that so many revered men have been doing in secret within our churches, the thousands of women and men and children that have been brutalized physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually all while utterly failing at the position of shepherding. I witnessed an outpouring of shepherds standing to criticize the uprising, tweeting and unlovingly chastising the voices standing and the rise to protect their own. I still have yet to see a true uprising and apologetic tone from the shepherds to the many sheep left astray due to the crimes of these men, I see no outcry of sorrow, only small insignificant words quoted in interviews while still showing a “we’ve done what we can” attitude.
John Adams wrote, “This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People, was the real American Revolution.”
No powerful rulers or military could stand against the people when they rose passionately for what they believed in, and how they believed they should be treated. It took the people hurt and wounded and tired rising up. We are the hurt, the wounded, the passionate ones who want what is good, right, just and merciful, we want the love of Jesus to be the true message and to be what is demonstrated to the people as a church. We have been missing that mark for so long. The people are heartbroken, discouraged, distrustful, lost in a sea of failed leaders, looking for some Shepherds to be worthy of the calling.
I had the blessing of attending a service last week that demonstrated the most powerful truth in action of what this revolution of leadership hearts would look like. It starts with brokeness, laying pride aside, acknowledging that we have been doing it wrong, and a broken heart for the people harmed and the shepherding gone astray. This Pastor stood before us broken, he has been on a 3 year journey with the Lord of questioning all that he thought he was and laying himself bear before his church, saying, “I don’t know what I am doing anymore. And I am asking God to create in me a new heart for His people and I am sharing the brokeness I am feeling because it is all I know to do.” He does not want to leave a frivolous legacy or title as a Pastor, he was broken by the idea that maybe he isn’t doing it right, that he was missing a larger lesson of what God expects from him and others for this world. We all cried with him, we all were moved to evaluate, it was the most moving thing I have seen from leadership in a long time, and it held power. Humility before God, it is the only way.
I wish you all could hear it…there is a battle cry from the hills and the rocks, they are crying out a warning that if we don’t get this right, the casualties are so costly, the entire church is at stake. Heaven knows what the cost is, many of us have already experienced it and our eyes are wide open, our sensitivities heightened because Father has been closer to us than you are aware, as we only have Him, we have no titles, no brotherhood of preachers protecting us, no committees to hide behind, no Shepherd because we no longer can depend on you. The cost is high. But the love of our Father and the comfort He gives to the broken hearted, I would take any day in trade for your titles and salaries while your pride grows and your hearts harden.
Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”