Peeking Behind the Curtain (#448)
The look behind the curtain can be incredibly disorienting the first time around. Our assumptions that everyone engaged in our congregation is doing what they do with a pure heart and a passion for Jesus' kingdom, doesn't collapse easily and when it does people can feel exploited and abused. In an email from a listener, a blog post by a former staff member of Mars Hill and other readings, Wayne goes back to help those who are just beginning to grasp how much bondage and error there is in our systems of religious obligation and help them wrestle with what we do in response. Is it possible to teach and encourage among Jesus' family without having to build a conformity system around it?
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MHC is not my church and MD is not my pastor but are we sure that mentioning his name is the best use of the gifts God has given us for public speaking? Is it possible to get out this info without mentioning his name? Did the face of his kids and wife ever cross your mind as you spoke those words? I know it is hard but these are the things we may want to keep in mind when we speak otherwise it seems a reversal of shalom to malign another’s ministry. It can seem like an impossible task to always speak truth in appropriate ways but if we could only see inside each other’s hearts… something tells me we would all be a little more careful, a little more gentle if we knew how long our words linger in one another’s lives.
I am an avid listener of your podcasts and even though I usually don’t speak up, I wanted to thank you for the information you provide and the heart with which you do it. I understand the intent of the podcast – to help those who are “coming out” to walk towards God’s (true) Love and away from man-made systems.
I wanted to attempt to respond in kind to Nancy and others who are concerned about the name-mentioning in the podcast: the links at the bottom provide the source of the letters Wayne is reading. The people mentioned in the podcast have publicly posted all of the information – names, church names, etc. that Wayne was talking about on the internet. This is a well-known public issue that has been happening. I understand the comment, but I also understand the heart of what was shared on this podcast; not to rip someone apart, but to provide insight into situations that are happening all over the country and hurting many, many believers.
I also need to say that this information Wayne has provided here and in other podcasts/blog posts has helped my husband and I GREATLY over the past year, as we were part of a very difficult and ugly situation at our former “church.” I know it is difficult not to talk about those who are hurting others, but bodly sharing truth has given us such perspective and every step of the way helps us to look in the right direction – to Jesus. It has helped me to see the ugliness in myself and to be able to see how my own actions were in line with my need for a leader/father figure and how putting someone, no matter who or how godly they appeared, in that position in my heart and life could only lead to disaster.
Cognitive dissonance is a big piece of the puzzle for us; how we can hold two beliefs that don’t line up together, and compromise other things to make ourselves feel better about that (self-justification). Cognitive dissonance explains for me the tension between loving people as God loves, and protecting the Interests of the church entity. There is a shift in thinking that occurs when people prioritize the system of the church over individual lives, and an excuse that creeps in to balance the cognitive dissonance. We just couldn’t understand how people could turn a blind eye to hurting church family in order to continue having church services! To “minister” to “hurting people!!!”
I just want to say again, thank you so much for what you provide. My husband and I joke that you are the “Harriet Tubman” of Religion…you keep coming back to lead others out of slavery! – those who have ears to hear, of course!
“I freed a thousand slaves – I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
– Harriet Tubman
Your comments are heart-felt Leah and I respect them. I am only asking the question if all of this could have been accomplished without naming the church and pastor. I’d like to think yes, but I can understand if others think not. Each of us has to find our own path through this delicate situation and do our part to bring God’s healing and hope to a hurting world.
Hi Leah and Nancy. I really appreciate the respectful e-dialogue. I thought I’d share briefly some of my thoughts to add to the e-conversation. Feel free to “eat the meat and discard the bones” (smile) Your comments were both very well stated and will stand on their own. The “picture” I see is a little broader in that I have never been a part of “mega church”. Within the Presbyterian system I was raised in there were all the rules we needed…(or thought we needed)(smile) Now as Father is opening more of His heart to me, I’m seeing that His world and the life He’s inviting me into is so much larger than man’s thoughts or systems. For me it’s had huge implications in how I live family life, how I live relationships with friends and even strangers I meet “on the way”. As I listened to the emails and Wayne’s thoughts, I saw that the subtle danger of “idolatry”, trying to serve ourselves while we think we’re serving Him….it’s all connected in such a large way. I guess it ties back to a comment Wayne made long ago…”it has nothing to do whether we attend a Sunday meeting or not”. It all comes back to knowing Him, a relationship He builds and finding our way into that no matter where we are. Through tears, I can see that there is good fruit at the end of this work He does. “Bringing God’s healing and hope to a broken world” (as Nancy said) happens as He wins us to a place where we will trust Him. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts. Blessings
Thanks so much, Nancy and Sue! I kept thinking of how vulnerable it feels to comment on a website and you both have been kind and receptive. Nancy, I love the comment about each of us finding our own path, you are so right, because we are individuals and God is showing us each different things. And thanks for your thoughts Sue, helping me to look at the larger picture, or at least strain to look way up and see it!!
Thanks Leah! (smile) Yes…I am “one of those” who seems to see the larger picture…means sometimes I “frustrate” the “detail oriented” people (laugh) I could see that even though I’m not a part of specifically what Wayne was describing (and the emailer/blogger), it very much applied to what I’m (we’re) learning about living more deeply in Jesus’ life. The way we relate to those around us…much to learn and thankful for His patience.
I wondered about the same thing, but then I thought: “If someone wants to make themselves a large public spectacle – a grandiose manmade affair – then when it crashes it will also be a public spectacle.”
Not unlike the public rebuke Jesus gave the Pharisees for their public display of religiosity .. with some pretty strong words. A sort of reaping and sowing.
I am thinking that perhaps going about my business quietly and trying to live at peace with others as best as I can may be more effective… (?) Setting out to do BIG things for God seems primed for self-glorification.
There but for the grace of God go I … O wait, I have spent more than 1/2 my life living that way … There but for the grace of God I would have remained.
All of your comments are respected and I know you speak from your heart. We have all been encouraged in this God journey. But I think you may be missing my point here. I am merely trying to “stand in the gap” for Mark’s kids who may not have asked to be in the spotlight for their dad’s faults. Can we put ourselves in their shoes? I assume they have access to the things folks post about their dad. I also clearly understand that we live in an age of social media which makes this type of compassion seemingly impossible.
Nancy, et al. I’ve been a bit busy with my mom’s death to jump on this here, but I have seen the posts go by and I have also appreciated the respect people have shown for each other even if they view this differently. Nancy, I love your compassion for the family. I think about it every time I mention someone specifically and weigh whether names need to be mentioned or not. You’ll notice many times I leave the names of specific people or organizations out when we’re talking about a concept more than a specific situation. In this case whether I was right or not, I don’t know and I don’t mind looking back and second-guessing to learn what I can for the future. But I think it would have been nearly impossible to cover that blog posting without having been specific to the church and pastor involved, especially since I was quoting his own words. That is mitigated by the fact that I don’t think the children or wife will come to this podcast easily or by accident. In listening they would already get a gist of what’s going on before they proceeded further. When someone inserts themselves into the public eye by writing, publicity, giving interviews, attacking others, etc., they and their family (perhaps undeservedly, but at least unavoidably) give up the same privacy others would be accorded. I consider that I have done that by being a “public person” via my writing and podcasting. That’s the price God has asked me and my family to pay to speak into the environments I speak in. Have you seen some of the stuff about me on the ‘net? I don’t think my kids see it and if they did, they would know what to do with it. Ignore it if it wasn’t true, and process it if it was, perhaps with me. I don’t think that makes my wife or kids fair game, and I wouldn’t think everything about me necessarily needs a public airing, but when it deals with what I’m saying to the body of Christ in the world and how others are impacted by it, I do think it is fair for people to talk about me by name. I just hope what they say is true, which isn’t often the case… So that’s how I wrestle with this and it is an ongoing tussle with every podcast to sort out what needs to be spoken of my name and what doesn’t. Thanks for adding your perspective, Nancy, Leah and others. Very helpful.
Yes, I had noticed many times, Wayne, that you left the names out. Thank you and I do understand your point here. And no, I have not seen some of the stuff about you on the “net”. I am sorry it has to be that way. Perhaps this is the “new norm”. Thank you for responding and I am sorry for the loss of your mom. I know it was expected but it still is a loss. We will pray for you and your family and God be near you on your journey. Grieve well, you are not alone.
Thank you Wayne for comenting on this subject ! It is something I wrestle with as well …. How do we speek the truth clearly so there is clear sound while caring deaply for the persons involved?
I wonder if this is not one of those things we hold in tension before Him and there is no recipe for the Next time? Love truth and life is a beautiful mixture that it seems only He can blend properly, I did enjoy the respectful comments and different points of view on this subject! Thanks guy and gals. 🙂
Sorry to here about your mother Wayne , our hearts are with you and your family’s and Dad as you pass through this space. May you be comforted!
Thanks everyone for the respectful and insightful e-conversation. Wayne, thank you for sharing parts of your journey with a wider audience and pointing us to a walk with Jesus becoming our focus. May you and yours experience His comfort at this time. Blessings
Well said Harvey…”hold in tension”…so true. My experience with “speaking the truth in love” is the difficulty in saying it with a heart that grieves for the other’s pain and dreams for their freedom and glory. That is a level of love I do not think I often attain, but it is something to which I aspire.
Hey spiritual siblings!! just peeking in on this one 🙂 ( oh how relevant haha…jokes)
Just an insight on my thoughts and observations. If you would like to hear me out, go for it !!
I think we get too caught up in thinking we have to “event” everything God may want for us, so immediately we result to a gathering of people who know Christ. But as we live on we start to understand that our very first move in our walk with God there is a gulf in between the truth and him. There is no better way then to trust God with everything. Because I thought he was our Father?
Im not saying gathering is wrong because God asks us to have fellowship. But we always humanise it and forget what its about and don’t stop to see what real fellowship is we just go with what SEEMS right to begin with, we were meant to be free not eventful!!
So in me saying this how much more figuring out are we supposed to do? and how much more trusting God are we to do? Learning to understand that church is somewhat a gathering of people………….., or hold the phone for a sec, is church a place in our spiritual walk for all of us to teach each other? Because at a precise given moment do you think a younger person may come to you and tell you something you really need to hear? are you willing to hear it? So what are we supposed to do when our hearts are aching to help and love each other but seem like its an impossible task? Oh wait i Got an idea!! lets hold a place where people come to talk about there lives and FELLOWSHIP….. WOH hold the phone again!! Come on it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is in our own strength that we create an obligated place to come and fellowship and single out a church ( building) for this to take place what ever happened to leading each other to our Father?. MAN!!! Ok deep breath…… lord my father where in scripture whom you ask me to trust in to gain the fruits of life, where am i to be in this walk ? Is what i am doing causing any harm? if so please withdraw me from my way and place me, or atleast place me in the humbled state to hear you more clearly.
Don’t be to quick to say i don’t understand, because i do, i have been sucked into religion but not in a CHURCH! In self religious ways, hirachy places, proud places, the illusion of being disconnected, utterly and horribly selfish towards myself and everyone else, pain and suffering, de moralizing areas, GEE!! what else? Mind you i still had God in all of this because the understanding of grace and his love had over ruled everything in my life. So being away from church does not mean your religious (what ever we call it) ways end, but what starts to begin is exactly where God wants you asking more and more questions instead of thinking you have it all figured out, ok i am saying the same thing as Wayne almost!! just in my own way, but i am saying the same thing because i know the same father!!. Now back to what i was saying about we all teach each other through love.( Ding Ding Ding Ding is that not the church?)
The church will make its own way in our lives as long as our relationship builds with Jesus, will Jesus not ask us to go to each other and love each other ? Will he not give good council when needed? Will he let us know he loves us when we need it? is it better to think that we don’t have to worry about the things we do and to think that he will adress an issue if he finds it going out of hand? Because of how broken i am ( In the flesh) i find that i am almost as quiet as a person with out a mouth, and i find i am resting with him all day and being joyful. What brings me back to scripture in this, is why do we seek for what we already have?
Leaving the book open when you have left the room, gives God the chance to author it.
Any who enough is enough!! my eyes are blurring HAHa 😛
Again i am just talking and sharing 🙂
so yea With love from my end, take care 😀
seriously looking back on this i have written things i wish i said differently, but please filter the crap and hear the good lol ( eat the meat spit the bones) lol
haha ( imperfectly expressing ):P
Here is an “update” from Mars Hills Church that I cam across. This is a Letter from Pastor Steve Tompkins from Mars Hill Church