This is a challenge I have faced for years. I have wanted to see churches grow both in terms of quantity and quality. Yet all too often the ideas I have presented have not been accepted. Sometimes it has been handled with wisdom. Other times people have left me feeling as if I am banging my head against a brick wall.
I have seen people and churches who have been taught or seen things that are unhelpful. Some have been taught that some things were unacceptable including dance and make up and of course clothes had to be dull and drab rather than just modest. Going to the pictures or movies was out of the question. For some even having a cross in the church was unacceptable because it led to idolatry.
The problem is that many things can be both good and bad at the same time. You want the baby but the bath water is so dirty it needs to be replaced. It is easy to throw out the bathwater and forget that there is a baby in it. There is so much muck in the water you can no longer see what you really want then you throw the whole lot out and oops the baby then gets thrown out. The muck you don’t want and the baby you do want have both gone. Sometimes the baby you have been blessed with gets rescued but not always.
I have seen this so often. They saw someone who was not doing as well as they could be. The actions and responses of that one person were taken as a sample when the reality was that they were an outlier or exception to the rule. There was the friend whose father had heard someone speaking in tongues and understood the language and was shocked at what he heard who said that tongues was always wrong. It was almost as it it was a set up to stop some people speaking in tongues. Well I for one knew enough and had seen enough to see through what was going on.
Shepherds are protective and get worried about their flock
I know that but sometimes they are so over-protective that their sheep are protected from things that would help them. There is a reason why leaders especially teachers are warned that they have a very responsible position. They are responsible for the good things getting through to the people as well as keeping the bad stuff away from them.
Imagine a church where there was an ultra protective layer over the top of it. There were the people in the congregation who had ideas for things that the church could do. They would approach the church leadership team and hit the ultra protective layer. A new minister came in and he was on the other side of that layer but even he became frustrated because he also presented ideas to them and found that he had problems as well.
Nothing could penetrate through that layer either bottom up or top down. The church was stuck while that layer was in place. That layer included “Mrs We have to do things by the rules” plus “Mrs I doubt whether that would work”. Together that church leadership team had become a toxic mix of fear and doubt. They all played off each other and the church was stuck.
While that protective layer was in place there were so many restrictions. There was a toddler group but they were not allowed to do anything that made a mess. There was no paint, no soft modelling dough, no water play and no sand tray. Glitter glue and paper crafts were a treat kept for 3 or 4 times a year because of the mess involved.
It was not just the toddlers who felt the restrictions. There were other rules that were imposed on the congregation. The congregation presented plans to the leadership but they hit that barrier and got no further. God ideas were quashed, yes not just good ideas but God ideas.
Imagine someone going to a two year programme at another much bigger church and being told that one of the major principles they had learnt could not be used in a project that could be connected to the church. The big church had found that by encouraging its members to do things that promoted the wisdom of of God in a covert way had brought amazing results. It was not the case of God said this is right but presenting ideas found in the bible in a way that it looked like common sense.
According to “Mrs I doubt if that would work” if what you were doing included biblical principles then it was necessary to make it really obvious that those ideas came from the bible. What! Do you know what that does? It makes you look as if you are trying to put yourself on a pedestal because you are doing this because the bible says it is the right thing to do. It soon puts people backs up. The choice then becomes do you upset the church leadership or upset so many people around about you that they turn their back on you.
Eventually something happens and a third of the church leaves at once. That third includes all the protective layer and some of their closest friends. There has to be a big rethink about who does what. There is no secretary and no treasurer but the church could breathe again.
One day the new secretary walked into the church and saw a huge mess and saw the new secretary in tears. It turned out the tears were due to the fact that the restrictions had finally been lifted and it was possible to make a mess. The old had gone and the new had come.