Difficult to go into here but the meeting wasn’t a disappointment as we didn’t have expectations. It came down to the pastor saying he didn’t agree with our assertions. We didn’t bring a copy of the letter, so therefore, we couldn’t share from it quotes. I understood his thinking was that we were saying the church didn’t preach the gospel. We used a “trace to the roots” kind of thing to show connections by taking what a pastor quoted in one sermon (and claiming a pattern) that there were emergent leanings coming into the church. He did not agree, most sermons are taught by him and are not of the same style, which he is right about. He preaches differently and doesn’t quote philosophers and these authors. We granted him that. Still, if you positively quote authors to prove a point and use those terms by that author, you are making some connection. He said Paul quoted poetry of pagans. I would have to look at it, but I am sure Paul used what he could in an appropriate way in order to evangelize. This is not what I am talking about. The pastor is not quoting a pagan poet in order to get people to hear. The pastor is using similar writing as the author of books (emergent authors) and is presenting that in his sermon, he’s presenting the philosophy of these people not in a quote but as the way God wants the church to go. It’s hard to explain, and we didn’t do it well in this meeting.
Confrontational statements or questions went like this:
1. Have you ever written an article that was published. My answer, yes. In a local paper Pastor then says, So, since that local paper has funded xyz who performs abortions, then you support abortion? Ummmm…that’s not the kind of connections we were pointing to in our letter.
2. (I may word this wrong, but I’ll just give what my understaning of the question was…). Do you often find these same kind of issues a problem for you in churches where you hear preaching you don’t like so you back out of the church? No, definitely not. We have only left churches because we’ve moved.
3. It’s good we’re leaving because we are no longer teachable. We are no longer learning because we’re just being critical in our listening. We cannot be open to hear what Jesus wants us to learn. Yes, I agreed. We cannot listen to a sermon in that church any longer without hearing things we have to check out constantly. That’s why my husband could no longer stand it and we left rather than stayed to fight.
I wish we were both better at getting our point across, stronger maybe. We’re not good at confrontation in face to face situations. My husband hates it, and I am not a debator. I feel the pastor basically concluded I (mostly me as I’m more vocal than my husband) am blowing things out of proportion, am perceiving things that aren’t there, and am making associations that are not there. He implied several times that we did not talk to people but decided just to leave. He did acknowledge by the time we ended that we had spoken to people in the line. We had gone to elders and eventually to one pastor. We have so many leaders and pastors in our church that going from one to another would have been perceived, in my opinion, as being divisive and spreading rumors…etc. We spoke to a few elders and it only confirmed things we were thinking or didn’t clue us in to what was going on. When we wrote the letter, we filtered it through a pastor. So, if the letter was so wrong, why did this pastor not say something?
So now, I’m not sure what was accomplished. My husband didn’t want to do it because this result was what he expected. I think it’s possible the pastor just chalks me up as a bit paranoid or something(and more specifically me as I’m the vocal one…though my husband did say things in the meeting).
I did ask about spiritual disciplines and the like and the pastor did say that they are used in the formation of a person to be Christlike or something. I wish I had written it down so I could recall. It probably is what the church is teaching when they bring up disciplines. However, we didn’t even know what disciplines were until we began researching outside the church. Our internal research didn’t bring it up.
I don’t know, it was a rambly kind of meeting where the pastor said some of what he was trying to say.
I do know we were told that if we say our old church isn’t preaching the gospel, the pastor said we are sinning. I say that I don’t believe they aren’t getting the gospel in there. I’ve heard it there. However, we have the gospel AND. May have to look back in my letter, he really thinks I said the church isn’t preaching the word of God. I would agree, these subjects like disciplines are not the word of God (though I didn’t think to say it in the meeting). I do think some people have become true Christians and are saved who attend the church. I also think (though I didn’t really say this) that the direction of the church is away from glorifying God in that it’s focusing on “mission” and focusing on spiritual formation programs/disciplines. However, this is all subtle. It’s not overt enough for people to see it outright. It took us years to notice. Once we saw it though, we couldn’t undo it, it was revealed and couldn’t be hidden.