Seven cities in twenty years have taught me that home is where your people are. These are the people that hold you as you walk into a new job, as you figure out marriage, as you fear for your loved one’s health. These people come when you are a mess and are willing to speak truth and faith in those places.
In this city, we have been looking for our people. It has been a long journey of sampling many churches. It has felt a lot like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: This one is too formal. This one feels cold. This one feels more about positivity than Jesus.
After much debate, we landed on our church. It wasn’t sleek or picture perfect, yet the people were diverse and welcoming. They were real, in all of their messiness and anxieties. Jesus was pointed to and loved. So, we committed and became members, agreeing, “I promise to follow Jesus…to submit to the leadership and discipline of the pastor…to submit to the leadership and discipline of the elders…” It felt like a lot, but we dove in. Since then, we have seen Jesus, been challenged, and are growing. We’ve found our people, our church home, our anchor in the midst of our storms.
Then, via text, my husband received the message, “Pastor announced this Sunday that he’s leaving…”
What? This can’t be.
We have been reeling and grappling. Our anchor in the midst of the storm has been suddenly cut….and we are drifting…unmoored.
There is no scandal. No faith destroying spectacle. Through secondhand channels, we’ve heard that it is due to faulty communication and dysfunction that has beset the elders and the pastor for years.
So, over the last two years, elder by elder, leaders have quietly slipped off the radar and left the church. There may have been complaints, but we didn’t know about them. There had been no public dissent until the pastor announced that it was his time to also leave.
So, the pastor of our small church is leaving…and the former elders have left…so who is leading? Who is to give an account? Who is to right this ship?
How do we fix something that we are not actively a part of? Where do we go?
Why is it that we were asked to promise our loyalty to the church leadership, but there seems little loyalty to the people? Why did elders and small group leaders just disappear, like breaking up with someone by text message? It feels spineless.
In some ways, it would have been easier for it to be a clear scandal, easy to point to.
How is it that God’s people are so easily divided?
Isn’t He a God of reconciliation? A God of power and love, the One who gave His Son to be united with His bride, the church? That’s right, right? How does this high and lofty theology actually affect our lives?
I know that we are on the outside of all the drama. Some of me is grateful for that. But it feels like being the abandoned child of divorced parents when no one is willing call the other out.
In the midst of this, our Bible study group remains intact. These are people willing to walk in the mess with us. We are grateful for that.
We are still wondering who will stay and who will leave. What will we do?
Aimee is an Asian American physician, recently married to the love of her life. She loves deep, honest conversation, being silly with her husband and pondering God’s presence in this broken world. She is honored to contribute to Red Tent Living, but requests anonymity in respect for her personal and professional privacy. b