Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Subtle Art of Spiritual Abuse Part III Scene One

Okay, I must give a caveat before we move on. As this story develops, I don't want to create good guys and bad guys. My point is, like in real life (Steinbeck expresses it well in East of Eden) we all have our baggage, some more than others.

Scene I. The setting is in the church's break area, off the side of the main vestibule, which has been named "Son Bucks." The purpose of the large alcove is a place for people to gather and fellowship between services. They even have one of their teenagers working as a Barista. Tom is over in the corner sipping coffee and talking to his 13 year old son Calvin, who is asking once again if they could go home early. Out of the corner of his eye he notices a group of people coming in his direction. Soon Tom recognizes a common denominator of the group and is the fact that they all live in his "cell." The church had divided up the suburb into 5 square mile cells and had set up a small discipleship study in each cell. Tom and Sandy had led their cell group's study several times.

Brenda Pullman spoke for the group. "Tom we have a request for you."

Tom sips his coffee and raises his eyebrows to show interest while he blows softy across the lip of his Styrofoam cup. "Yes."

"Well we've been talking. The fall Bible study will be starting in a few weeks and a topic that all of us are interested in is about parenting teens. Virtually every family in our cell has either a teen or will soon have a teen in their household. It is tough. We admire the way that you and Sandy are raising your boys and we think you would make a great leader."

Tom, "Well that's an interesting idea. Certainly I'm no expert" looking over and smiling at Calvin, "But I can facilitate a discussion."

George Way (standing with Brenda), "So you'll do it?"

Tom, "I'll at least pray about it, do some research and bring it up at our next ministry meeting."

Brenda, "Tom, I hope you understand how important this is. Each family in this group is struggling. You know as well as we do that within this small group we've had one teen pregnancy, a drug arrest, a serious car crash and several kids who have dropped out of school and/or church."

Tom with a sad frown, "Yeah I know. We do need some help."

Over the subsequent weeks Tom did some research trying to create a curriculum. His wife gave him a couple of books such as "Raising Children Who Love God" and "Discipleship Starts at Home."

Tom read those books, but also read a couple of, what Sandy called "secular," books written by psychologists. He was starting to get pretty excited about the idea. Being a father of two teen boys, he really had a heart for such discussions.

The following Tuesday night was the monthly elders meeting which was expanded to include all the ministry teams. It was their tradition to take this August Elder's meeting as a time of getting direction for their big Fall ministry strategy.

Side Bar: Pastor Pete has a style of leadership that was confident and full of life. One of his downfalls was they he seemed to have great enthusiasm but a touch of ADD. He would launch a great ministry endeavor, convincing the entire church that this is exactly what God wanted them to do, but in three months he would be going in an entirely new direction.

Pete was also a micromanager and had a habit of making confident decisions to suddenly replace a program director without any discussion or warning. During his, now two year, reign there had been several families who quietly left out the back door after Pete had run over them like a steamroller. However, he didn't feel bad about that. Actually, he didn't really feel bad about anything he did because he was always so confident that he was doing the right thing. He had twice as many new families coming in the front door (switching from other churches), being drawn by his charismatic persona and strong convictions about having a "Biblical church."


Anonymous said...

JMJ, I sure hope that "Son Bucks" pic at the top is a Photoshop job.

I literally cannot tell. Because I have seen worse "Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!" knockoff Jesus Junk. For real.

Headless Unicorn Guy

jmj said...

I honestly don't know it is real or not. I didn't create it but someone might have. Here is a footnote from the original poster of the image:

The sign above the coffee shop at Faith Church in New Milfield, Connecticut says, Son-Bucks. No, it’s not Starbucks, although the color scheme and design are identical, only with Jesus in the middle. Faith [Mega]Church is colossal. Its bookstore is full of merchandise, school supplies, etc. The Faith Church website assures worshipers its “bookstore offers Biblical information in the form of books, tapes, and topical scriptures….” Some noted authors? Well, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, and Joyce Meyer. Church on church marketing. Christ with commerce. A sales strategy if “He” ever saw one.