Okay, time for true confessions…
I spent most of my childhood and adulthood in the institutional church system. I was a proponent of it, and ::wincing:: I looked down my nose at those who had a problem with it or abandoned it. I passed them off as anomalies, as people who fell through the cracks, as people with issues of their own, predisposed to being negative, etc., etc. I blamed the devil for it. All sorts of denial.
I managed to be in or near the “inner circles” of leadership just about everywhere I happened to be (partly because of my musical abilities). So from time to time I saw the politics that went on behind the scenes, the quarrels within leadership, the people hurt in leadership, the people hurt by leadership. But again, even though I saw these things and they affected me, I found convenient ways to go into denial and explain things away.
I was the guy pushing the chocolate button. (See previous post.)
Then, one day I realized I had become the “anomaly”. (See beginning of this post.) I was the one who fell through the cracks, who got hurt. My family paid a terrible price for my/our participation in “ministry” leadership (my wife was a leader, too). That story will unfold in time. But I marvel at how long, and how much it took to open my eyes. Why did I defend a system that was consistently causing so much pain and discontent to so many? Why was I so loyal to the machine?
I know the answer to that. It was because I thought the church was the machine. Institutional church was the only church I knew, and I knew that God didn’t want us abandoning His church. I saw the flaws and the weaknesses, but I just figured that was a sign of the “spots and wrinkles” that Jesus was going to eventually remove from His bride, the church. Now I’m beginning to see more clearly–we are not the machine. The church is not an institution, even though she lives in one. The church is an organism. Knowing that little bit of truth has totally changed my paradigms.
There is a popular definition of insanity–doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It’s time for us to wake up and realize no matter how often we push the chocolate button, the shakes are still coming out vanilla. It’s time to realize something’s wrong with the machine.