Bruce had a post on his blog that got me to thinking ... and then David commented ... which got me to thinking more. Rather than take up space on Bruce's blog, I thought it better to just respond here with my thoughts.
I don't think the problem is whether people or pastors stay at one church for too long of a time. It seems to me that the real problem comes when people or pastors either one begin to feel that it's "my" church and that things should be done their way. I've seen churches where both of those occur. Some pastors I know have either a too big ego that won't allow them to let go of having things their way and other pastors have too fragile of an ego to let go. And then there are churches where the pastor has very little say so in matters but boards or committees feel they have the right to run the church their way. None of this is very godly, in my opinion.
I myself have been weary of "stupid people" this week. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone complaining about so and so - and none of it with good reason. The only thing I can figure is that they don't like so and so because they are either too young, too old, too silly, too sober, too radical, too conservative, too something. These folks seem to feel they have a right to criticise the way that person operates in their ministry but for the life of me, I can't find any reasonable reasons for the criticism. It must come down to personal taste - and a belief that things should be done they way "I" would do them. In coordinating mission trips there are always a couple of people on the team who complain and say something like "I would do such and such that way". I want to tell them to get over themselves - they aren't the one's doing it, but I bite my tongue.
We can change churches (no judgment here for anyone doing that) or we can change pastors (no judgment here for that either) , but the problem will remain because the problem is that selfish desire to have things our way. As long as humans make up the church, the problem will be there. We can however challenge ourselves to tackle the problem. We can't change other people, but we can change ourselves and how we respond to others - even when their acting ungodly. Now there's a challenge.
As I said, I have no judgement for anyone who feels they must change churches. I've at times wished I could do that. And I don't have a problem with pastors changing either, but frankly, I don't think either of those is a great idea. To me, a church family is about relationship. It's a place where we learn to accept each other in spite of our differences. It's a place where we rub shoulders with some people who rub us the wrong way and we have the opportunity to work it out or at least to learn to accept them as they are. I'm not sure how pastors can really minister as well if they were to move every 2-3 years. Where's the relationship with that? Being a pastor's wife, I know I would learn to put up walls and not allow myself to care too much for people that I knew I would only be with for a short time.
Being the spouse of a pastor puts me in the middle. I'm not "staff" and I'm not really a lay person either. We have a great church, it definitely has it's strong points, but it has weaknesses too. Sometimes those weaknesses have frustrated me to no end. I've at times wanted to fight and at other times I've wanted to pull up and leave. But after 20 years of sticking around, I've been forced to grow in ways that I would not have grown if we had left. I've had to come to terms with a few things about my church that make me uncomfortable (sometimes even angry) but going through the conflict has caused me to have deeper relationships. And I think I'm better for it.
This is not to say you should never leave a church. Obviously there are times when people shoud do just that. And it's not to say pastors should never move either. Frankly, I htink some need to get out of the ministry entirely because I wouldnt' wish them on anyone else.
So what are your thoughts?? You can, of course, differ with me. I'm good with that.
*Note* This post isn't an argument and it is not a response to Bruce or David personally. I'm really probably just venting my own frustrations with "churches".
- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.