Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Travel Stats of the Young Pastoral Elite

Another year has rolled around and we can't help but notice that the travel pattern of the young pastoral elite across town hasn't diminished during the winter months. Lest you think we are obsessively checking their twitters on a daily basis, weeks may pass without a thought in their direction. Then one day we think to check in and - lo and behold -they've taken 4 trips in a 1-month period!

2/14 Hawaii
2/25 Palm Springs
3/5 - 3/7 NYC
3/7 - On to DC
3/15 -Los Angeles

While their pastors criss cross the United States on a week-to-month basis, do the families that have lost, or could be about to lose, their homes at vortex church ever ask where DO their leaders get the money to travel so much?? (They lost their homes because of bad advice given by the senior pastor who elevated a scammer guy into leadership who scammed these families out of money taken from the equity in their homes. He is now a wanted man in 4 different states - CO, ID, UT, TX!) (BTW, why didn't the pastors all lose their houses too??)

Isn't the congregation at all curious to know whether their tithes and offerings are funding big fluff that masquerades as "ministry"? If they are too afraid to ask, we certainly aren't. But when we pose this question we are branded as jealous with a bitterness problem. I wouldn't say we are jealous, but we are definitely perplexed that God himself is allowing this to continue as if he has bestowed a great blessing upon them.

My fellow detoxer, Non-Celebrity Christian, has been asking another question lately: Why do pastors WANT to travel and get away so much? This is a question for even the Good pastor on our side of town. Do they become restless staying in town with those who support them financially, spiritually and emotionally? The same people who faithfully mind the store while they are away I might add. Is it just too boring to stay in town tending a flock who needs you? Yawn. I am a Global Christian and the world is mine for the taking. Is that it?

This leads us to the next question: Just what is a pastor? The young pastoral elite may fit the definition of the kewl and to-be-envied jetset rat-pack of Christianity today, but I doubt it has alot to do with compassion and tending a flock. When do they have time to take care? I think they've all developed a spiritual hypertention disorder and they are so drunk on their growing numbers that they can't help think they do no wrong. They mistake God's tolerance as His blessing.

Meanwhile, those of us desperate to know that God still loves us and has a plan for our lives other than being minions to pastor-kings, are left wondering if God is really that interested in his reputation anymore. That is my honest and heartfelt question for Him that I hope he someday answers.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spiritual Temperature and A New Surrender

Journaling again on my spiritual temperature, assessing where I think I stand since leaving the authoritarian style church we left in 2005. Here it is 2011, six years later.

This year I'm finding a new freedom in reading the Bible on a daily basis. Not that I wasn't reading God's word in previous years but because I was determined not to open the book out of christian expectation or legalism, it was no longer an every day obligation like it once was. That was so I knew in my heart when I did reach for His pages it was because I wanted to hear from God, touch base with his thoughts and hear them clearly without the authoritarian voice of the former pastor(s) echoing in my mind. The Lord has been faithful to lead me gently in these last few years giving me lots of space and what feels like His understanding. The Holy Spirit has spoken, convicted me kindly when I needed it, reassured me every time I needed it, just like always throughout my years as a christian.

Daily reading because I'm eager and hungry for 'the new and living way' is becoming a profound joy like it was when I first asked Jesus into my heart. I'm not reading verociously, but taking bite-sized portions to ponder in both the Old Testament and New. I have my own little schedule that I'm surprised I stick to without a group to keep me on track. When I miss a day I'm not uptight about it in the least and I just read a double portion the next day if time allows. It's very personal and not about the corporate setting at all.

Prayer is also an area I needed to relax in so my approach has been the same.

Worship in song has long been personal to me but it too has been redone - still being redone. Let's just say it has been nice to sit quietly before the Lord in my right mind singing thoughtful songs to him without the need to sing each song 10 times to bring God into the room. There is no frenzy left in me. I could write a book on how I feel about that.

I'm still gun-shy about getting involved at a church. I'm ok with attending but my approach has been the same as with bible reading, prayer and worship. Since we left the old church my husband and I have felt it important that I take time to develop my art in the years I have left and work towards certain goals. After years of giving my art second place to the church (actually 3rd after my family) I'm still a little afraid God may ask me to set it aside again to help out at church, which would not only diffuse my focus but set me on a completely different path. There's a reason we've called church a vortex...

That being said, the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of surrender a week or so ago where I actually said to him I would do that (help in a church) if it was his will. It's been more than 6 years since I've been able to say that. Talk about a long surrender. But having done that I have a peace that I'm where I need to be with my art and that he is the Lord of it since I've given him the opportunity to be Lord all along. In the end I only want to serve him with it and hope that the fruit of it is to bring his essence to those my art can touch.

At this point I think I'm to continue pursuing my art outside the church where I feel it's more needed and valued. The church doesn't seem too interested anyway. The only way I could share my heart inside the walls of christian culture is if I could be open and honest about what I've been through, what led us to our exodus from a cult-like church and what I'm feeling now. Church christians don't seem to really want to hear about that even if internet christians do ;-) If Art is a reflection of Life, it will have no depth of substance if we can't be real about life.

Even the whole process of surrender has had to be redone in my life because it was twisted in the old world. Dying to self helped you stay flexible so you could easily be at the eck and call of the pastor who was constantly changing course. If you just died to self then you didn't find yourself so frustrated at the fact he enjoyed changing plans at whim or pitting people who worked for him against each other.

I am crucified with Christ has been or is being restored to its rightful meaning now, so I can have a new sense of trust in the process of surrender. If I'm still a little worried about being trapped again, a peacful trust outshines the fear when I remember Jesus has been with me on this journey and he isn't into jerking me off the path he's been leading me on. He's brought me this far not to send me backward.

So, I think the whole surrender thing is about being willing to be a light for Jesus wherever he leads and making sure my heart is his in everyway. I'm free to come and go. It makes the most sense.