November 21, 2008 Myspace blog post

A hard night

Current mood:disappointed

Tonight was a bit on the difficult side because Russ and I had a conversation with the man who was our pastor for about a year. We started to attend this church when we moved to this area last year, and we really enjoyed this pastor and his sermons. He is a man who has a wonderful vision for his church and who has a real heart to serve God. Throughout the last year, we spent time getting to know people and trying to “plug in” and be a part of the church. There were some issues that concerned us, and we talked with the pastor about those issues several times. We heard the right words, but those words never were backed up with action.

As time went on, we realized that this church just wasn’t what our family wanted or needed in a church. The four of us were not able to worship and participate together, and because of the lack of kids and programs at this church, our kids were not able to form any relationships and plug in themselves. Our daughter did not want to keep going to this church, and our son was getting there as well.

What to do, what to do?? Russ and I talked and prayed about it for several months. Finally, we found out about a church in the area who has a very active youth group and a family focus in the church. We decided to give it a try, prayerfully hoping that we were taking the right step. Long story short, we all love the church. We all worship together and the pastor is a man who Emily is able to understand and is interested to listen to. The youth is active and growing, and the kids class is just right for Andrew. They are even able to handle his issues as there is another kid there with a similar diagnosis and so the church teachers went through some training and seminars to learn how to best work with these issues.

The church has a mid-week Bible study for adults as well as the programs for the kids. There are many activities and chances to serve together and plug in as a family. I don’t mean to make it sound perfect…no church is perfect. But the kids are excited to go again and I must admit I am really looking forward to each service.

This weekend we talked and finally made the final decision that this switch is right for our family. This church more closely meets what we were looking for and more closely fits what we believe. We feel at peace that this is what God wanted us to do.

Tonight we had to tell our former pastor. I have to say, it was very difficult. We really love and respect this man and hurting him or discouraging him is the last thing either of us wanted to do. His response to us was rather surprising. Rather than questioning us, he immediately went on the “attack” (for lack of a better word). He didn’t ask us who the youth minister was, he attacked who he thought it was. (it is not that person, nor is that person involved in any way.) He refered to us as quitters and insinuated that we were only in it for what we would get out of it. He heavily criticized us, and when we tried to explain he would say “you don’t have to explain. I understand. You do what you need to do.”

I felt like he was trying to guilt us and manipulate us with his responses. He challenged us to show him in scripture where a church had to have a youth ministry. He said that even with a youth group our kids may leave the fold. Yes, they may. It is not about a youth group, although I feel that is important. It is about the four of us making the church “ours” and the kids not considering church “were my mom and dad goes.” It is about our family growing together and learning together. He seemed surprised when I said that.

I don’t want to bad-mouth this man or do him an injustice. He is a godly man and Russ and I have grown to love and respect him. I was very disappointed with his response to us and I must say I felt like he did not treat us fairly. He really didn’t want to hear anything that didn’t support what he preconceived about our position.

I am hurting right now. There is so much more I could type here, but I don’t want to put it out there. Russ and I still think we made a good decision, but now I am struggling with guilt. And that guilt is based on this man’s words, which I know came from his own disappointment and hurt. I tend to do that…I make it my responsibility to “fix” someone else’s hurt. I take things on me that do not belong there.

I do not believe that Russ and I have sinned or done wrong by leaving a church. We not only have the right to make this kind of decision, but we have a responsibility to do so if it is for the best for our family…more specifically our kids. The issues that brought this decision about were real, and they were important enough to us to make us seek change. Period. We did communicate with leadership regarding these issues repeatedly. This was not a surprise for them, or at least it shouldn’t have been.

I am not even sure how to end this. I needed to get it out, as I am upset and hurting over this. I guess time will heal the hurt, and I know God is faithful and that He is in control. I pray that this man and this church are blessed and that God would increase them and grow them. I pray that if Russ and I have done anything wrong in how we handled this, that God would show us so that we can make it right.

Most of all, I pray that this new church and the new opportunities there will be a good match for us. I pray that we all grow in the Lord, that we are convicted of sin, and that we are challenged to learn and grow closer to Jesus. I pray that Russ and I will be encouraged and built up and that we can learn to be a better parent and spouse. I pray that our kids will learn more about Jesus and make him their top priority in their lives. That they will make the faith of childhood the faith of their lives!

It comes down to this…I refuse to lose my kids. And I will do what it takes to give them the tools they need to grow in Jesus to be what He would have them be!

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