The world is a mess, our country is in peril, denominations are shrinking, and even local congregations are not immune to the pathological transferences of fear exposed by anger.
Particularly, our family of faith is being blessed with massive expansion; and, unfortunately, this causes added stress for anyone who doesn't like to see anything happen for the first time.
Moreover, we have yielded our second service to a team of liturgists and worship leaders that are praying and laboring to follow His lead in wineskin-expanding fashion to reach the unreached for Jesus.
Hence, while we are on the verge of the greatest revival in the history of the corner of Lincoln and Main, we will have a trickle to stream of folks from the church for reasons other than Christocentric or Biblical.
There will be a rush in as word gets out of a family of faith really trying to follow Jesus; for people are hungry and thirsty for authenticity.
The faithful, in obedience to His will as revealed in such texts as John 17, Ephesians 4, James, Titus, and the like in such matters, will hang strong and tough and celebrate the revival to come.
We will praise Him for the forgiveness of those who have used this kairos moment to wedge, discourage, and divide without regard to Christocentric and Biblical fidelities.
He has forgiven them already.
Our saints will forgive them.
I have forgiven them.
That's the preface to addressing a rumor circulating among us.
There is a rumor of a poll being conducted to determine who likes traditional or contemporary worship.
Frankly, I do not understand the difference.
I just live and love to worship as led by anyone gifted to lead me.
Regardless, there is no poll because we do not run polls in a Christian church operating by Presbyterian polity.
We are not hierarchical. While some would like a pastor or priest or bishop to dictate as long, of course, as it dictates to their prejudices, we are not hierarchical. For example, I have no prerogative except for my witness.
We are not congregational. While some think we're Baptists or independents where everything that we do must wait for a congregational vote, that's just not true. There is nothing in our constitution that encourages polls, hearsay, mobocracy, or the like.
I have nothing against hierarchical or congregational polities. God works, as His Word reveals, through varieties of...
We're just, uh, Christians in the PCUSA.
We are Christians who operate by Presbyterian polity: confessional and constitutional democracy in which authority resides not in individuals but ordered groups (viz., session, deacons, presbytery, synod, and general assembly).
However, there is a much more important spiritual matter of serious discipleship with eternal consequences at stake here.
Go back to the first paragraph.
No, go back to the first paragraph before you continue reading.
O.K., these are tough times.
We are not immune.
People are afraid of so many things falling apart around them that they try to control what they think they can control.
Such times as these do not build character but rather expose it.
What a wonderful time for us to model Someone better.
Yes, I know people have left the church because of our expansion for many personal reasons.
Yes, I know people have left the church because they don't want to get up earlier for something a tad more, uh, "traditional" or, uh, whatever else...for many personal reasons.
Yes, I even know people who have left because of Henry, Bob, Dick, Bill, Mike, Melany, or, gulp, me...for many personal reasons.
Yes, I know people have been enabled to feel like they're entitled to dictate according to their desires rather than the prerequisites of reaching the next generation with the gospel. I have often been stunned by the very, very, very few folks who feel just because they say it, everybody should goosestep to it.
Yes, I know people have left for many reasons other than Christocentric and Biblical fidelities.
And, yes, I know this should not be and is an exposure of ultimate consequences (take a peek at Titus).
We will not be blackmailed by attendance or money by those who have abandoned Christocentric and Biblical fidelities for...
I am prepared for many more personal sacrifices to be a faithful undershepherd on the corner of Lincoln and Main; and if not prepared, He will provide.
We will not keep people on our membership rolls who do not support Him and His through worship, support, and other fruit; for that is a hypocrisy that has no place in the church.
Pastorally, and check the first paragraph again, I am spending more and more and more time dealing with people with real problems, life and death issues, domestic struggles, suicidal temptations, substance abuse, grief, serious health challenges, and so on. This has driven me to my knees for strength and clarity. I am spending more and more and more time with Him; and He is increasing a firm calm that compels me to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Pray for me because He is calling me to greater fidelities than ever before; and it's really hard...
While I did/do not make many of the decisions that have caused people to leave, acknowledging some leave because I will not champion their agenda at the expense of the body of Christocentric/Biblical fidelities or I am not Pastor Dick or Bill or Mike, I submit to the ordering of those decisions through our polity and must insist as moderator and undershepherd that others do the same or express personal integrity in an acceptable fashion that builds rather than bites at the body.
While I am always prepared even eager to be corrected by the example of Jesus and Holy Scripture, I don't have any more time or energy for stuff unrelated to our confession and call; or as session recently decided in the addressing of anything before it, "What does this/that have to do with Jesus?"
Surely, I am always available to anyone for prayer and care.
I will never shut my ear or door or heart to anyone who needs what God offers through me.
While I may be wrong, I don't think I've ever denied anyone who has made a need known to me.
But I cannot by time/energy and will not by firm calm call enable anyone any longer who is hurting the wonderful saints on the corner of Lincoln and Main by behavior unbecoming belief in Jesus (again, see Titus).
The Lord is compelling me to write a letter to people who have left our church over the past three decades. If they have found a family of faith since leaving, I will be encouraging them with blessings. If they have not, I will urge them to find one or return home. I will also note that divorcing one's self from the body of Christ is divorcing one's self from Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.
Likewise, again, if people are unhappy with our expansion or second worship service and refuse to go to the first one, I will no longer enable those infidelities to this part of the body but help identify other families in which there will be more personal comfort even as I provide firm calm counsel on what that means in terms of a person's real relationship with Jesus.
If I have offended anyone by the preceding, that has not been my intention.
My intention has been in the spirit of John 3:19-21.
I am fully aware that we are in tough times and the corner of Lincoln and Main is not immune.
I am also fully aware of who is behind divorce, wedging, slander, ridicule, and the like.
As I went to bat for the saints of St. James, go to bat for the faithful remnant in our denomination, go to bat for you when you need me, go to bat for anyone who really loves Jesus by loving like Jesus, I will not flinch in the face of anyone or anything in league, wittingly or unwittingly, with anyone/anything other than Jesus.
There isn't much more time to be faithful.
So recognizing my personal sin and need for constant confession and repentance, I urge you to join me, in the words of my first mentor, and keep the faith.
Blessings and Love!
P.S. The rumor is we knee-jerk to personal prejudices. The truth is we are trying to walk with Jesus as He exemplified and explained in Holy Scripture.