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The Sole Soul on Your Soles October 26, 2012

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity, Church, Leadership, ministry.
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Would you walk around in shoes that don’t fit you, out of loyalty to the brand that your parents wore, that your friends wear, that pays you to put the shoes together? Would you bind your feet to make them fit? Stuff them out with tissues and hurt your knees, hips, and back walking in shoes that are too big? Cut off a toe or two? Mutilate yourself to stay ‘in?’ Why, then, would you stay in a church that; hurts, causes pain, makes you unhappy, makes you feel unwanted or obsolete, lies to you for the purpose of making changes without being perceived as the “bad guys,” treats you or others as if they’re not worth talking to, helping, paying fairly, being more than a scapegoat, or taking more seriously than a dirty joke, and sinks as low or lower than bullies you’ve dealt with? Loyalty to someone else’s brand isn’t an option. Everybody grows, if the shoes no longer fit, why wouldn’t everyone eventually go, as in move on?

Businesses worry about statistics, churches worry about souls. Or, that’s the way its supposed to be. A pastor once told me, “A thriving church, on paper, has more christenings than funerals per year.” So some churches are prioritizing 20-40 year-old married couples having babies as more important than singles, elderly, or barren. This same pastor started advertising the previous week’s attendance in the worship bulletin, but when attendance dropped to what was deemed embarrassing numbers this practice was discontinued until numbers climbed back to status quo. It doesn’t matter if the shoe fits the individual as long as there are many in that shoe and the brand is “out there.”

Faith and Love are inherited patterns of thought, action, and behavior, i.e. traditions. Take away the patterns, and the shoe has no form. Take away traditions, like faith and love, and the church is just peddling hope. A pastor once said, “You can’t build your life on traditions. No tradition lasts forever nor is it meant to.” Piece by piece, the patterns are being stripped away from churches to tailor them to a “new generation,” or wider spectrum of people. But in unfitting the church in the name of reaching the masses, the “(hands and) feet of Christ” are being asked to wear one size fits all shoes, and its causing more pain than properly fitted ones, even though they may fit fewer people. I imagine a 5 feet 3 inch tall woman with size 7 feet trying to run a marathon in clown shoes.

Its not about you.” “Don’t complain, you’re the light of the world. Complaining diminishes your light.” Pain is the body’s way of complaining. When The Body complains, its given “pain killing” statements like these. The Body is broken, sore, aching, strained. Churches are giving pain killers and ignoring the problem. Example: A man signed up for a ministry which utilized mechanical equipment to perform the task. On at least 3 occasions the equipment malfunctioned or didn’t work at all. After telling the appropriate elders of the issue, to no avail, the man asked to have his name removed from that particular volunteer list. The pastor’s response: “That’s not how we handle things. We don’t just give up when things aren’t going how we want them.” I forgot to mention that performing this task manually was causing physical distress to the man’s body. For every person for whom this task had to be performed, it had to be done eight times. On at least one occasion I watched as someone else had to do it for him because he was hurting too much to finish. If it ever got fixed, I do not know, but his complaints, and others, were silenced, and silence, theoretically, is consent. Addiction to pain killers can lead to infection of wounds we don’t know to acknowledge.

While the full-time pastors administer pain killers, generalize, destroy patterns, unfit the shoes, and propagandize the sermons and printouts, a freshly hired “part-time director of youth ministries” had this to say of his new ministry: “We’re going to build a relational ministry because God is a relational God.” Relationships require patterns of thought, action, and behavior such as faith and love. One building shoes with inherited patterns, others building with one-size-fits-all tactics. One worrying about souls, others worrying about stats. One raising a culture of Spirit-sensitive awareness, others want people numb and obedient to their power.

You don’t have to walk in pain to walk with friends or family. And when there is pain, those you walk with should help cure, not just quiet or shun. I’ve actually been “unfriended” on social media by a few of those I walked with after I chose to discontinue affiliating with their brand. But, their shoes didn’t fit me anymore. Christians are supposed to walk together, in whatever “shoe” empowers them to do so. Chances are, the bigger the church leaders desire the church to be, the more generic they’ll make it, and fewer people the church will actually fit. You are the only one who must walk in the shoes you choose. Choose carefully, and if it becomes time to move on, don’t let loyalists, friends, family, or money stand in the way.

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