The Loves of My Life

The Loves of My Life

Monday, August 4, 2008

People at church can really chap my hide.

There are many beautiful things in life. But I think that one of the most splendid things in the world is watching a room full of people, from all different races, backgrounds, and cultures Worshipping our God. It is just magnificent when you think about it. Once a week for a short period of time, people come.....sometimes willingly, sometimes humble, sometimes joyful or sad, sometimes grieving, or angry, most of the time sinful, and all the time searching and longing for God. People come to sing, to rejoice, to learn and to repent.......and we do it all together in one place.
I have been fortunate that I have been to many different kinds of worship services. I grew up Catholic and I have been there and done that many times. I have spent a lot of time in non-denominational churches, baptist churches, Presbyterian churches and Calvary churches. I have even been to a few Episcopalian and Lutheran services and 1 Mormon service. I can honestly say that in every church service, I have been able to witness people loving and worshipping our God. It brings me to tears sometimes. All these different ways to love our God and it just amazes me. Now don't get me wrong. I most definitely prefer certain kinds of services to others....and even if I don't care for the style of worship much....I still see the beauty....I still see see the love. It's so cool. I just love it.......that's why what I am about to write took me a week so I could simmer down from my frustration and disappointment.

Last Sunday I didn't want to go to church. Paul was preaching in our sanctuary and I always like to hear him (I should, he's my hubby). But the fact of the matter is, I haven't been feeling well so I was going to go to only 1 service. Usually if Paul preaches in the sanctuary, I will go to the early service....then over to the Bridge service where I prefer. This is sad to say, but I am not a huge fan of our sanctuary service. There are things I like , and things I don't like, but the things I don't care for distract me from worship. BUT I still can worship and appreciate the parts of the service that are beautiful and revealing.
So I didn't want to go.....I had been thinking earlier on in the week how much I just needed a dose of the Bridge....but I didn't want to hurt Paul's feelings.
So I went, and when I walked in the sanctuary....I almost cried. Paul and the worship director decided to change things up for the week and have a TAIZE service in the sanctuary. If you don't know what Taize is....let me TRY to explain...or I will have John our worship dir. explain

"Taize worship is meditative and contemplative. It comes from an ecumenical monastic community. The musical passages are repeated many times. The intent is to focus concentration away from the cares of the outside world. Scripture, our common Word, is the source of our meditation in silence. There will be prolonged silences during times of prayer, a time of listening to the voice of God. The goal is to leave the extraneous noise of the world behind and renew our relationship with God. Listen, Sing, pray peacefully, and together we can discover the meaning of the word sanctuary."

This type of service is just so beautiful. We do it once a month on Friday nights and I love it. It takes some getting used to........but just like all other types of worship it's just magnificent. To be honest, I was surprised they were gonna do it on a church "Sunday" but I also thought it was cool they were gonna mix things up a bit. I mean....I don't know about you...but sometimes church can be the same routine every Sunday just a different song, and a different sermon. Sometimes it's nice to do something to push you and challenge you in a different way so you can grow. I got so much out of the service, I just cried and thanked God for pushing me to come. I walked out and talked with a few others about how great it was just to come and have some real peace.

So when Paul came home on Monday and told me about the complaints (no names, just the complaints) heard about the service I got ready to write a sermon of my own to preach the following Sunday about how people need to stop being selfish, take the pacifier out of their mouth and grow up. Yep, that's right....that's what I just said.
Here are a few of the complaints that people actually either said, called in or emailed.
"people up front shouldn't be wearing jeans"
" I didn't like it"
"When are you gonna have those kind of services again cuz we won't come those Sundays."
People actually emailed or called and said these things after only 1 service in which the boys explained how we were doing something different since the choir is on break.
Seriously?
I mean "SERIOUSLY?" Church is all about you right? It's about what YOU get. It's about whether you like the way the pastor preaches, or the way the choir sings or doesn't sing. It's about what the pastor wears or if we sing one song or two. It's about whether there is a kids sermon or a good Sunday school craft.
I 'm sorry but I am so SICK and TIRED of hearing stuff like this.

I'm sorry people but church isn't about you!

Church is about worshiping God. (it's also about community too, but we'll delve into that later) ..it's about coming together and showing Him how much we love Him and praise Him. If we learn something in the process, that's great....but it's about giving our hearts to our Lord for at least one hour a week in community and to listen to His word.
At least that is what I have to come learn about church.....and I have to say that I feel sorry for those that think church is about them....cuz they will never be happy.

But do you see why I was frustrated? I don't call the pastor on Monday and tell him that the people in choir fall asleep in service so maybe they should stop having the choir. I don't call him and tell him he "Blew chunks" on his sermon or that they should try doing things a little differently cuz this one time I didn't like it. I don't tell him that I was offended when he wore his robe on Pentecost Sunday or that I think we should pass communion every week instead of monthly. I don't tell him that the opening song was in a key too high or that the service went too long. I mean...how disheartening right? Do you think God is praised when we say those things. At some point we need to let go and just worship.
I'm not saying that we should just go along with things even if we don't like them...or if there was something inappropriate or misleading done in church. But maybe we should just sit back... and wait and see what comes the next week...and the week after. Then , maybe then, take your pastor out to lunch and take the time to learn the reasons behind what happened before opening up your mouth to complain. Then say what you will......it will be received with much more care. Besides, they are the ones that went to a lot of school to learn all different ways to lead people in congregational worship. Maybe what they try to do every Sunday is challenge you and foster a time where you can not only praise our God, but draw closer to Him as well..

p.s. I have been one of these kind of people before....maybe thats why I react the way I have you.
p.s.s. imagine if I hadn't waited a week before writing this.....
p.s.s.s this rant could get me into all sorts of trouble...so be gentle.

14 comments:

Lisa P said...

Jen, I hear you. I think it's one of the toughest parts of being in church leadership. And asking the question, "How would Jesus handle these people?" isn't always helpful. I don't know what he'd do, but I am doubtful that he'd always just let them speak their piece.

One more point: it's rarely the involved people that complain--because they know the blood, sweat and tears that go into any service, project, or ministry.

I will be praying for you as you process this.

Jodie Howerton said...

I hear you, sister! Sometimes being in ministry means living with a huge target around your head! Heck, ministry would be easy if weren't for the damn people!

Your anger is righteous!

Sarah said...

I'm with you sister.

Sigh.

Last night I was reminded of the early church ... and so much of what is all thru the epistles ... and it's just exactly THIS.

I'm not sure if it makes me feel better or worse, knowing that even the early church was battling so much of what we're still battling - AMONGST THEMSELVES!! Amongst ourselves.

Sheesh.

The Coy Pond said...

The best thing I have ever heard in response to complaints about the style of music during worship:

"You don't go to someone else's birthday party and complain about the flavor of the cake. Church is God;s party, not yours."

I love that perspective.

Carrie said...

A-freakin'-MEN, sister!

Kristi said...

Jen...we need to get together and talk...have lunch...let the kids play. I've got a lot to say about this blogpost (by the way...I am the official "TARGET" at my church), so it's been a long season for me of comments like this. Anyway...I'd love to sit face to face with you and just talk. Or you can lay on the couch and be sick while the kids play around us and talk. Whatever works. Or maybe our amazing husbands would watch the kids and let us go out and talk. With our recent emails/conversations...I think there is a lot to talk about....if you're up to it.

becky k said...

The best part are the anonymous remarks. What are they hiding? Paul should make an announcement next Sun."For those of you who forgot to write your name on your comment card last week..you know who you are...love to talk with you." Confrontation at its peak!

Brazenlilly said...

I don't know that it helps, but it sounds like a lot of us who are or have been in ministry have experienced this infuriating situation and left with the same helpless rage. For a long time I had a pity party for myself and thought that people who work in music ministry had the market cornered on malicious, unreasonable, unlogical and -- best of all--anonymous comments. Then I worked in missions and children's and realized that Satan will use even God's people to tear down the Church in any department. Hang in there. Your anger is justified, but the rewards of perseverance are great!

Jodie Howerton said...

Did you know that it takes only 7 complaints on average for a pastor to resign? We should have quit ministry every year for the past 15 years according to that quote.

For all you minister's/ pastor's wives out there, Kay Warren (Saddleback Church) has an awesome series for pastor's wives. I listen to it at least once every few months....especially when I feel like I might crash and elder meeting and scream what I really think....

Jen White said...

thanks for the tidbit Jodie, i will definitely check her stuff out ;)

JC3PastorWife said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. My husband and I planted a church in a very rural area - it is a Cowboy Church. You can check out our website at
www.jaspercountycowboychurch.org
(It is still a new site and needs a lot of work.)

With that being said, our community consists mainly of tiny churches who have had the same congregation for years upon years with no conversions. We are currently having church in a covered arena outside. We are brand new. And while God has blessed us immensely we can not afford a building yet.

Every Sunday I hear about why don't we have a building etc. And you know the sad thing is, this complaint mainly comes from Christians. Those that are lost come hungry and don't care about their surroudings. They only care about being able to learn about a savior who can fill a void in their life. I am right there with you!

I have to thank you for the honesty of this post because it called me out. Since finding out I am pregnant - with horrible morning sickness - I have been trying to make my life "easier" by showing up when the service starts and leaving as soon as it ends. I need to take a cue after you and realize the beauty in our church service and the beauty of how God is working in others lives.

Thank You! Thank You!

Tiffany said...

Okay I completely happened on your blog today and this post...I Totally get! My hubby is a Young Adults pastor in Orange county...and holy cow sometimes I want to slap people with the comments they make. Thanks for sharing your heart. It is comforting to know that I am not the only Pastor's wife who has to deal with those who are critical of their spouses.

Jen White said...

Ashley- thanks for your comments and sharing your story. I checked out your website and all I have to say is wow, that's pretty cool. so not me (the whole cowboy thing), but pretty cool nonethless :) I think we are due around the same....what a
coinkidink. Oh- I have missed church twice. Each time my husband just tells them I am taking time off ;) hee hee


and Tiff welcome to my blog :) thanks for commenting and I am pretty sure your husband works with my friend Pam. I think she is still is the children director there. I love Pammy :)

Carolina said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jen. Minstry woes that never end... I hear you and I am praying for you. Here is my ten cents: Dan has learned that hard way not listen to the 10 % in church who hate everything and write those anonymous comments. Also don't listen to the 10% who love you no matter what you do (the Paul White Fan Club). Listen to the 80% who are the majority of the church if you want to get an accurate picture of how things are going. Of course, listen to Jesus first ..which apparently these people could have done that that really cool service. I want to go that church. Keep blooming where you are planted sister!!