(Not Very) Easy Come, Easy Go

Yesterday was supposed to be my last Sunday as a formal part of the Resistance, with any future participation as yet undetermined. Instead, after, clearly, taking a risk by posing some hard questions to the board of the Resistance and informing them of our intention to no longer be regular participants in the Resistance’s worship gathering, I was told repeatedly that I was in fact no longer welcome at the worship gatherings and that my relationships with those board members had been “irrevocably changed” (Irrevocably? Really?) and no less than “severed.”

For the first time in a long time, we had been so very hopeful when the Resistance started not much more than a year ago. We hoped that God actually was up to something here in NE Ohio, at least in a way that we could connect with. We hoped that there were at least a few like-minded folks around who were both like-minded and who were also still trying to follow Jesus. We hoped that a community was being formed that took being the Church, rather than just “doing church,” seriously and was making every effort to be gathered and organized in that way.  We hoped for nothing less than a bona fide “family” with whom we could “practice resurrection” and “be the change” we so yearned for.

As those hopes were tempered by the experience of actually trying to live life with those folks that made up the Resistance, we understood this to be the natural result of dealing with real, fallible, broken people just like us and though the Resistance did not progress like we might have liked it to, we remained resolute in our commitment to them and to the dream that was outlined so well in the Resistance’s “Manifesto.”

What a difference a year makes.

Admittedly the Resistance has been on the decline for some time now as lots of uncertainty regarding its leadership and a related lack of direction from that leadership resulted in a steady decline in the number of participants and a fatal lack of consistency as worship gatherings and other meetings were moved, changed, or canceled on a near weekly basis, for example. Then, and without going into details inappropriate for this space, I’ll simply say that there was a scandal involving part of the leadership of the church, and the knee-jerk reaction on the part of the rest of the leadership- including some parties very directly and intimately affected by the scandal-  was, I felt, inappropriate, not to mention “unbiblical.” Foolishly, in hindsight (always in hindsight), I tugged on this “string” by questioning how all this was going down. I had been asking questions for a while, uncomfortable questions, I guess, challenging questions, always in the hope that doing so would keep us on track to live up to the incredible promise of that “Manifesto.” Anyway, in keeping with the metaphor, it wasn’t long before my “tug” on that “string” led to the unraveling of the whole thing, at least inasmuch as the “thing” was our participation in the Resistance or in any sort of viable ongoing relationship with its leaders.

So, having been told that I’m unwelcome at any worship gathering and that my relationship with the leadership has again been “severed,” we are left, again, to pick up the pieces. I recently said that “being a pastor is a fearsome responsibility.” Indeed it is, and that is part of why I am not one. Sadly, a pastor’s actions have contributed to where we are now (having to pick up those pieces of this debacle), and the result may be that our participation in any future faith community is one of the pieces that gets left behind.

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2 thoughts on “(Not Very) Easy Come, Easy Go

  1. I feel your frustration and completely understand where you’re coming from. I made the decision to terminate Sanctuary because in my heart I believed that for me it was about leading people to deep change / theosis, but for others it was about that warm fuzzy of going to a “fun” gathering. I hated that, and ultimately I realized that the culture of NE Ohio was never going to be open to the type of radical message that we wanted to communicate. When Christy came back to Dallas, we realized within a couple of years that we really weren’t interested in going back to life before Sanctuary and ultimately found that there were some things going on within some of the more prominent families that we could simply not live with (not to mention the vile gossip directed at Christy). Christy and I haven’t regularly been a part of a community of faith in five years. We’re exploring Mosaic in West Hollywood (BTW, we moved to California last September), which is where Erwin McManus pastors. This time, we’re not going in with expectations, but simply being listeners, learners, and observers. If it works out then it works out. If not, then I think the American Church thing is just not for us anymore and we have to implement our own spiritual practices moving forward.

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  2. Hey Tim,

    I appreciate hearing from you and you taking the time to comment. By the way, I saw Seth the other day. He was working, and so was I. We talked for a few minutes, and of course talk turned to you and your move to Cali. Anyway, this one- this dramatic end to our participation in “life together” with a church- was/is hard to take. It felt like a “last hurrah,” in many ways, for Kirsten and I. We’ve struggled now for nearly a decade here to be part of a church that seemed to be really working to follow Jesus together in a way that we could, after all we’ve been through, still be part of. This church was a breath of fresh air…at first, and for a while. It seemed that at long lost the culture here had caught up to where we’ve been for a while and was ready to be engaged in a communal life of radical discipleship. So we were devastated when that turned out not to be case, and even more so when the pastor of this church inflicted a lot of needless pain- direct, “below the belt” attacks- at me on our way out. An atheist friend (someone you know) said this whole thing was a real indictment not only of the church, but of Jesus. I fear he may be right. I may not be ready to give up on Jesus yet, though I keep getting supplied with reasons to, but thanks to these events I’m considering mightily whether or not I’m ready to give up on the church, which I know may be a distinction without a difference. Unfortunately, some extenuating circumstances are keeping us in a very “stuck” place, unable to move on, unable to work through what it all means, for a few months more. Time will tell where all this takes us.

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