I might have blogged about this already, but I don’t remember. Regardless, this is going to be a stream of consciousness typing thing, so if I get redundant I apologize.
In August of 2014, I remember being at church and someone was preaching and hearing very clearly in my head “you should not be here”. I don’t know if it was God speaking straight to me or what, but it freaked me out.
I flipped to the back of the notebook I was using to take notes, and tried to figure out what it meant. Was I not supposed to be there that day? Was I not supposed to be at that service? Was I not supposed to be at that church at all?
Again, it freaked me out.
Granted, I had been feeling a bit adrift at my church then. Our senior pastor was on the verge of retirement, and I do not feel that I got much out of his sermons for the last few years he was active. We were blessed to have a regular rotating staff of those that preached, and the one that was preaching that Sunday is one that I used to get so much out of but lately had found that I got nothing. I was tired of stories of his kids, his broken childhood home, and sports. E.v.e.r.y. sermon was comprised of these things.
Slowly, however, the others that preached regularly moved on to other things/places. Leaving us with the one preaching that sunday and the senior pastor.
So now fast forward to today, when the senior pastor has retired.
So guess who the new one is?
I have struggled mightily with this. I very much like him as a person, but he is all about expansion and new programs–which is great–but all at the cost of ignoring the issues we have with the programs already in place. Even that is something I could live with, save for one thing:
I still get nothing from his sermons. Nothing. Zilch, zip, nada.
And it’s been eight months since they announced his position after which we had several town-hall style meetings before confirming the decision to hear his view on things, where he tended to sidestep any serious question or request for explanation by saying “Yes, that might be an issue, but look at ____, didn’t we do a great job there?” It’s now been six months since he was installed as the next senior pastor, and eight weeks since he actively became the senior pastor.
And still nothing.
I love my church. I have been there over ten years now, and finding it took me quite a bit of time. I was very intentional in my choice, and now I work with the kids, I rely on the people, it is my home. I believe in the fundamental practices of the church, support the fact that it is a missions church which is so important to me, and participate in bible studies, small groups, local missions actions, etc. I participate in just about everything it feels like sometimes . . . .
Everything except Sunday sermons.
I do listen to them on podcasts. I do. I enjoy the others that are being groomed to preach more often, but now they only preach every few months or so. It looks like it will be at least two that can step in and I love them both. But they have other responsibilities. So most of the time it’s the new senior pastor. And his sermons? Usually they don’t do much for me. Or anything at all, really. I even listened to the annual bellweather (when the senior pastor lets us know the theme and goals for the next year) three times, hoping that I’d finally get something out of it. Nope, nothing. He did talk about sports though. Mostly he talked about how the church has to grow. We need to bring in more people. Yes, this is true, but I’m also looking at it through tainted eyes as I know about 85 families that have left over the last few years in general because of dissatisfaction in the department he was in charge of, and last six months in particular because of his new position.
That’s another of my issues. I work extensively in the family life department. This was his purview before his promotion. And it was a great program, but it had issues. Some MAJOR issues. But it was never addressed, just swept under the rug while they focused on what they do well.
Tonight was the annual business meeting. Usually this includes a devotional by the senior pastor. Tonight it included a full-blown sermon by the senior pastor. And it included a story about sons, an extensive sports analogy, and a story about his pseudo-surrogate-step something or another grandfather from his childhood. And another call to expand our numbers using Ephesians 4 as basis for our actions.
And I had the hardest time drawing his connections. Or even feeling like it was an appropriate sermon for a budget meeting. I also felt it was inappropriate for them to talk about how giving was up 3% which is unusual in a church that had had a senior pastoral change. What they didn’t mention is that the fiscal year ends August 31st, and he wasn’t installed until the 18th of August and wasn’t “official” until the end of 2015–well after the fiscal year ended.
I don’t want to leave my church. I don’t want to leave my family. But if I’m not getting the food I need at their offered table, I feel like I’m going to starve. I know I said I was rambling, and I feel that I am, so I will stop now. But I wish I knew what to do. Try to stick it out? Find somewhere else for Sundays but keep going there?
Has anyone else experienced this kind of a struggle to remain where you feel you belong but so fundamentally get nothing out of?