Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Church - not an island!

For those who have mailed me asking where I vanished to, the answer is 'nowhere' I merely took some time to step back and reflect away from the blog as part of a bit of spiritual discipline. It wasn't because I was too busy and it wasn't because I was sleeping in a hammock in the garden (brrrrr) - but what it was turned out to be fun and rather worthwhile.

I am struggling with Christians who seek to make Church work for them by means of one of the most powerful things known to man: The 'Someone else's problem' field.

This creation born out of an astute observation from the late Doug Adam's makes known something that is truly the most invisible thing on the planet - and this is perhaps one of the most effective curses acting against the Church today.

Let me explain:

I was recently made aware of a situation where some wrong action on the part of a leader from elsewhere was made apparent. When I asked what the person telling me was going to do about it, their response was, "Oh, I thought I'd tell you!"

"Fair enough," thought I as I asked them, "But why tell me, what can I do?"

The response was so very typical of Church as a breed of people for what they wanted was for me to do something about it because they, "Didn't want to get involved and especially didn't want to end up in some form of confrontation over it!" But of course, as a leader, it was OK if I did!

"But if you have seen it, surely you should address it," I said (feeling myself being painted into a corner), "After all, that's how the Bible tells us to handle it." 

But the person who had brought the complaint was going to have nothing to do with it. They knew that what they had seen was wrong but in the name of peace they chose to cover the sins of others and compound their own sins in the process.

I have to bring the bus to stop outside the book of Ezekiel's and looking at chapter thirteen make mention of the comment about those who seek to lead God's people (here they are 'prophets' but we can rely upon this as relating to all who are leaders - and those who follow - I reckon):

"'Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, 
and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 
therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. 

Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, 
and violent winds will burst forth.

When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, 
“Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”

My problem is that I, like the many others who see things and remain silent, may be found at time to lack the moral courage to make the stand I should. 

My problem is that when I have made the stand, the perpetrator of the wrong merely ignores any correction and continues in their wrong behaviour.

My problem is that when I have taken my complaint to those above me, they merely act as if nothing has been said and so add warrant to the wrong behaviour.

Finally, at the tip of it all I find the comment, "Oh well, that's not our problem is it, that's a problem for another church." The reality of course it that it is problem for the whole Church and to permit, or turn a blind eye to it, because it's, "Not our problem," is to permit the Church to be tainted and wrong and it is in this that we permit the Church to be hypocritical and wrong.

Never have the words, "Let those who have ears, let them hear," had some much relevance.


Robert Crompton said...

It's discipleship by proxy! (It's good to be retired :))

Anonymous said...

I complained to my Vicar about one of the clergy and was told to but out and mind my own business. It would be ok if they listened but they don't. Now I have given church up and listen to Sings Of Praise instead.

Where is your church?

JonG said...

Belgium, man, Belgium!

I wonder, coming from a non-conformist background, if part of the problem is the (perhaps perceived) authority of the dog-collar. Particularly if the issue relates to another cleric.
I only attend my current church because it takes a relatively relaxed attitude to such things. We were delighted recently to have a service for two of our members who have qualified as Readers - and we had a chuckle at the list of the things that they are now allowed to do, given that they, and plenty of others, have been doing many of the tasks for quite some time. But I am sure that in many Anglican churches - and, I would suspect, in other churches with a more rigid hierarchy - the formal qualification would be regarded as essential. This generates an attitude amongst the general laity that "I don't have the authority to challenge this person".
Not that that is an excuse, but it may be a stumbling block.
Also, particularly with clergy, there is probably some degree of false, or perhaps mistaken humility: "Well, it doesn't seem right to Me, but he is a vicar, he Must be more holy that me so he must be right and I must be wrong." We need to remember Balaam's ass.
At work, ad least, in my dealings with the local NHS hierarchy, I am at least getting a reputation as a troublemaker, though I would claim that I am just pointing out the state of undress of the Emperor. I do recognise the "Well, I've tried, and it hasn't achieved anything," my wife wonders why I bother, but then I get a few people thank me for saying out loud what they think but felt that they could not say out loud, and that makes me carry on.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Anon: Tamworth, Staffs.

Jon: Not sure it is about dog collars because some of the incidents I have seen were concerned with non-com churches.

It's seems not to be about hierarchy but about people's unwillingness to draw lines and engage with others to correct wrong behaviour. Not sure humility, false or otherwise, comes in either - think it is more about wanting others to right wrongs they have identified.

Hey Ho!

JonG said...

Ah, my suspicions are obviously unfounded.

Ho hum!

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

I think the issue exists across the board and I think it's down to personalities rather than denomination. I have found some churches where elders and deacons behave wrongly and none are willing to go public - same with some church council members as well.

I think therefore issue is about being human rather than being part of any particular and this humanity often decides to step back and say nothing rather than fall foul of those with real or perceived power.

Thanks for conversation - really helpful