"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grace under Siege 37: Putting on lipstick

     I have to admit: after we first brought these abuses to the attention of the elders, assuming many of them did not know what was being done to us in their names, there were improvements. They started going out of their way to be more courteous. Hatchet Man/Saul made a point of coming up to the two of us and asking how we were in what seemed a sincerely friendly manner. Some offered to make home visits--two at a time, of course. Music Man persisted in trying to let him return to our home (with a reinforcement.) We declined.
     But they still refused to let anyone bring up issues or viewpoints or even ways to seek common ground in order to resolve our conflicts. Any attempts along those lines were cut short, as usual, with demands to be quiet and "repent."
    On November 17, they invited everyone in the church to one of the regular meetings of the Executive Board of Elders. This was a little odd because the Byaws already give us the right to sit in on any of their meetings except, of course, the secret ones. But many of us--80 to 100--showed up expectantly. We represented a good mix of loyal Lou followers and those concerned about Lou's teaching and motives.
     We sat respectfully through presentations of laudable things our leaders have been doing for the community, like adopting orphans and becoming point persons at the request of other churches to plant 50 ethnic churches in Long Beach. (We who are an almost all-anglo church, by the way! What arrogance! But that's another matter.)
     At some point in the agenda, one elder gave a report on "communication with the ownership," defining "ownership" as "God first, then members, then attenders." For a full 45 minutes, The Nine soberly discussed with each other ways of improving communication with the owners, suggesting and rejecting "comment cards," "townhall meetings," "polls," and "quarterly/annual assessments."
     It was bizarre. We "owners" quietly watched them discussing how to improve their communication with us. Not one executive elder ever turned to us and asked our opinion. I could have told them in one word how to improve communication with us: Listen! The issue is not how they can communicate better with us. They communicate with us just fine! The issue is how we can communicate with them!  At last they tabled the matter, instructing the elder to do further study on possible options.
     Afterwards, privately, one layman dismissed the whole meeting disgustedly as a "show," another said it was "hypocritical." Jerry called it a waste of time. I thought it was just window-dressing, putting on lipstick. All we can figure is that the elders wanted to give us the impression they really care, to convince us of how open and responsive they are, how earnestly they want to reach out to us. Of course, the fact that they immediately went into another "executive (closed) session" gave us quite the opposite message! 
     I personally think if they gave more attention to being open and responsive to their primary Owner, they wouldn't have to come up with gimmicks to please us. Once they listen to and obey Him, we'll be satisfied to leave them alone!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Jessica,
    I want to let you know that I have been receiving your emailed blog posts.

    May God guide, protect, and strengthen you and Jerry in the truth.