My husband is out there working, and out and about, has run into a few pastors from our old church. One pastor spoke to him a bit. We’re attending a church regularly (by no means becoming members because we have to really examine it). The pastor and my husband spoke about it, and the pastor told us it was a good fit for our family and a healthy place to be. He then spoke of the letter (he was one on the list we sent it to) and told my husband what is most important is “your perception.” An elder told us what was important was that our family found a church we were comfortable in, find a church that’s best for our family. Wow. So basically, it’s the “if that’s how you see it it’s okay, go ahead and go to another church.” It’s sort of a nice way of saying what we brought up doesn’t matter, really. It’s just our perception of things. So, since our “perception” is not reality to them, are we just plain crazy? I don’t think it was our perception that heard the pastor quote Donald Miller and Michael Frost, both of whom are pretty deep into either emergent/contemplative or missional programs. Michael Frost defined missional in a conference I watched on YouTube (got the context this way) and he said a church centered around missional does not think that worship is the organizing principal, nor fellowship, nor evangelism. No, it’s the mission of God (as defined by what person or person?) that’s the organizing principle in these missional churches. Okay, how am I to perceive this?
We have a meeting Monday morning with the lead pastor of the old church. I do not have any idea how we’re to prepare other than to pray. I do not want to organize a point by point and sit and tell him things that are wrong. I feel our letter was pretty direct and he didn’t address much in it that we did hear and see and read in transcript of one sermon his co-pastor preached. He eventually said that the pastors’ sermons were not full of men’s quotes, not emergent in nature, and did not take Christ out of the central focus. It’s true, this lead pastor does preach less quotes of men, and he uses scripture. I don’t really know for sure that this pastor’s sermons were off by a lot. He did talk about the Nephalim, said things like the angels brought the gospel…a few unusual quotes here or there. He has preached on contending for the faith in the meantime asking people not to be “Bible Police.” What? He does use a lot of illustrations like having an actual boat on stage, or other props (not always a problem though, the visual is effective at times). One previous member has noted that the focus of the sermons is can at times be how we can use the word of God, or other aspects of the Christian life (like prayer) to get something we want. Usually, that something is a noble thing like we can feel good by serving others, we can grow our church by reaching the emergent youth, we can pass down Christianity by taking this “young adults are leaving” the church seriously. We can reach the world and change the world if we only plan and have a vision and then follow that vision. Plan big plans and make big goals, and there you have it, success. This is interesting, because I’m not sure Moses had big plans and goals. I think God had the plans, and Moses was just to obey. In fact, men’s big plans were never what gets success (as defined by God) but what did get across what God wanted was obedience to Him. Now, if he wanted to show His glory, God also used disobedience in contrast with obedience. Look at Pharoah, God used his hard heart to bring glory to himself and also to attain His end. So, really, what causes “success” is God. Period. A pastor may end up with an empty church, and somehow (not in human terms but in God’s way) this could actually be success to God. This is because God is knows what He is doing. How successful was Noah when the whole world except his family had to be drowned? Who failed there? It certainly wasn’t God’s failure. So, in terms of pointing out problems in the meeting, I can only say we may point out that the references to vision and plan can be misleading. We have to seek for God’s plan in things…but maybe not in the big picture as He might not share this with us (okay, we have the BIG picture of Christ’s return, but I mean big in terms of what our lifetime has to do with the whole thing). However, we do have God’s word for our conduct. When events occur that push us into God’s bigger plans (if He chooses us for that), then we have His word to guide us. We can pray and we can get counsel from believers. We trust God, and we press forward. It may be that we are killed, or have to have church underground. It may be that we are starving or in prison. It may be that we’re just in a holding pattern, living a certain way for a long time as the Israelites did in Egypt. Hundreds of years and several generations before God made a bigger move. Years before the Egyptians got worried and then made them slaves. Years more before they were freed to go to the promised land. Years of wandering in the desert. Years and years, when it may have seemed no one had any success. But God was not unsuccessful through all that. And in our lives, it’s not OUR vision and OUR plans, it’s not even exciting events. It’s not our testimony, our story, or our anything. It may be God’s will that I am a mother, and teach my children. It ma;y be his will that I live long, and not much happens in my lifetime. I have to be obedient in my life whether I am meant for leadership and large evident changes, or whether I just have laundry to do for my family.