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How Do We Move Forward?

Help me understand.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the manner of how things unfolded in this recent controversy over a former, now disgraced pastor, I understand the need for revelation. I know it’s for the benefit of the people hurt by all of it, as well as for the church, so it can begin to find ways to be more diligent in trying to see better where it may be still be happening, or recognize signs before it happens. The allegations made by the all parties hurt gave the impression that the church didn’t care or wasn’t listening. To that, I just don’t know. It appears they tried as best as possible, with the info they had, to deal with it in a biblical fashion. It turned out badly, seemingly having more to do with deception and unrepentance than anything else. Many have been sadden by the whole thing because it didn’t work. I share in that sadness.

So here we are. One day removed from a joint statement of pastors and other prominent speakers, all who at some point had some level of friendship or influence in this man’s life. I personally thought the statement was well-made, and found it careful to acknowledge those hurt, and yet still seek restoration. Restoration to the body, and NOT to a specific calling to any ministry. Do you have any problem with that? Then, that’s squarely on you. There is no basis in scripture to not call a sinner back to God. None. I have written in the past about some serving in any ministerial capacity and stated that I don’t see a scriptural basis for never returning, but have also stated that (I think in the same article) the more you stray and sin, the harder it would be to return. I see that in this statement released. They are not asking this man to submit to church authority so they can clean him up and send him back out there. Even I have to admit, despite my own thoughts on the matter, that it would be hard to see him return. On Saturday’s post, I actually stated, and still stand by this, that he should repent, and find a way to live out the majority of his remaining christian life quietly, in peace, and humility.

So why, with a statement that is clearly calling a sinner to repent, denouncing all the actions of this former pastor, acknowledging the hurt and pain caused by him, and applauding the bravery of all that came forward, is it not enough? Some of these same bloggers that helped tell these gut-wrenching stories, are now picking apart the statement. I just don’t understand. Please help me understand it. What specifically do you want from these people? Do you want them to make more statements? Some seem to think the problem stems from a theological source. Would you like them to renounce some basic historical teaching within the church? What could anyone say to you that would finally get any one of you to simply say, “that’s a good job. Now, we can move forward.”? I don’t know if anything exist that could do that for you. I really am trying to understand it.

I think the reason is that blogger readership can sometimes thrive on controversy. Do I think you wrote these stories to be controversial? No. I’d like to think that you really and truly wanted to help these people. Sometimes, the best way to do that is by making some noise. You certainly did that. Again, I don’t agree on the method, but for what you wanted, it worked. Kudos to all of you. Now, does that have to continue? For you, it may. Acknowledging that these pastors, leaders, teachers did a good thing with this letter, would begin to quiet things down in some way. The momentum would begin to subside, and while that doesn’t mean people aren’t moving forward with the issues brought out by the blogged testimonies, what it does mean is that now it returns to the local body for them to move and implement in some way. I do think that could be a problem for outspoken advocates such as yourselves. I’m just trying to work through this, and admit I could be way off base here.

So I ask, instead of creating new critiques, and spending time picking apart every statement made, why not take what’s begun, and begin to work within these churches. I know some of you have strong feelings, and like me, maybe personal experiences of abuse, and strongly think churches should do more to protect people from that. Maybe, you already work with various anti-abuse advocate groups, and can help in a “boots on the ground” kind of way to see churches be made aware of signs of these things for the future. So, why not give the churches a chance to move? You’ve been the clanging cymbal. The clarion call for all to hear. It’s been heard. Even more, It’s been publicly acknowledged. Now, how about helping the church  transform that great clang you made into a beautiful melody that reminds people that we the church, care about everybody.

Christ is the foundation on which yesterday’s letter was issued. The great and needed advocacy you did on behalf of these people, sits atop that same foundation. We are all on that same solid ground. It levels us all in the fact that we all fall short, and God’s grace then covers it all. It now calls us to find unity in all of it. Unity is not ignoring what when on before, but what can we do in moving forward for the benefit of all. Eyes have been opened, stories have been shared. If all we do is limit people to the caricatures we made of them, we can’t go forward in truth and love.

I’m begging you to please see these words apart from this writer. I know there’s no love lost here. I’ve done enough to encourage a fair share of criticism in my life, well before twitter. I know some will have already made up their minds. I don’t care.  I’m asking people to find ways to move forward without nitpicking every single word. I recognize a level of irony in my asking for these things. I know I can’t make this request without at some point critiquing someone’s words. I can only hope I struck the right chord. I suspect I probably failed in some way, but I felt the need to try one last time. I can still ask going forward from this, in what way are we better? At what point do we move towards the center and meet. You shouted, people moved. What next?

You know, I lost what I thought was a budding friendship over this. Someone who I didn’t always agree with, but she always treated me with more respect and care than I (still) deserve. She would read my blog sometimes as if it were gold. (fool’s gold?) All it took was one word to ruin that. It doesn’t matter who said the word. The lesson here is it that it’s always easier to tear a thing down than to build a thing up. Considering the flaws in the materials being used, it can only be by God’s most wonderful grace anything stays together for any length of time.

Take my thoughts for what its worth.

(No comment section for this post will be available. The thoughts are simply there to consider)

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