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Oct 30, 2016

The Relief Project Part 7, Family Matters

Darin and Hans talk about how the use of the world “Family” creates unrealistic expectations on both Pastor and Congregation. People become disillusioned and Pastors lose their understanding of who they are and what their real role is in the body. Very Interesting conversation! 

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    I was a part of a church for about 30 years that I often thought of as "family". I think that even if that specific word wasn't used by everyone, it was conceived that way in the hearts and minds of the people. Of course semantics are involved. Thing is, we were realistic enough to know families are not perfect. I and we did not pretend we were the Cleavers from Leave it to Beaver or some fictionalized unachievable ideal. Just as all families have at least some degree of dysfunctionality or in simple terms some warts, we did too, and most importantly knew it, and STILL were committed to one another. Devoted one might say. So to me the use of the word "family" did not create unrealistic expectations and does not have to. The fact that any human endeavor whether it is a genetically linked family, a church, a marriage, a work environment will be flawed is, to me, no reason to flee from them because we can't flee from all of them. I know we have the freedom to choose not to some, and have.

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    s phillips

    What an emotionally charged podcast. You could just feel the pain as Hans spoke of his experience. What a sad reality we face as part of this family of God. I see the church I attend as my immediate family and then I have my extended family. I consider you two my brothers even though I haven't met you. But it is within the immediate family that we experience the most pain. We have given our finances, our time, our hearts, to this family and when something happens it hurts deeply and for a long time. As we came into the journey of grace (which began by being introduced to the Misunderstood God) the true colors of the family surfaced. We struggled to stay but we were told if you are not with us you are against us. We ended up leaving. Two years later what we considered close friends have yet to contact us. You try to let it go and get on with your life but the hurt and feeling of betrayal linger. I guess we do expect more from those who claim to love us with the love of the Lord,

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    I have a brother-in-law who was a pastor of a traditional type church for about 10 years. My young family and his were very close, (still are), and we spent a lot of time at their "parsonage" visiting them for days at a time. We were someone they could confide their hurts to. He gave the church all he had and was under appreciated terribly. He did so much for them. After ten years they left with nothing to their names other than a very old car and some clothes and the church had a little dinner for them and gave them as a parting gift a little plaque. But they still trust Christ and are part of a church. They just no longer are a pastor and wife.

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    So Jeff's mission continues: trying to convince us the pain of rejection that naturally occurs from fully giving yourself (as the apostle Paul so often expressed in his letters)should not be taken seriously. It's as if we should have known better than to believe how the church markets itself, & represents it's self inside to one another; should all be taken with a grain of salt, from the beginning of the relationship. We should have began as cynics, & not been so whole hearted about it, so it wouldn't hurt so much now. But now that we discuss it's false advertising & how it effected us, he says - what did you expect? Why Jeff, we didn't expect to be treated as apostates, cast out of the family, shunned from the pulpit! The point of family is that everyone is included, warts & all. We learn to make space for one another. We expected one of God's original creations, the family, which the Church claims to be the perfect expression of, to at least live up to the natural expression of it.

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    I haven't listened yet but the comments brought up emotions from the past. In the 45 years I tried to assimilate into the many churches I attended, I never felt love or acceptance. I used to always wonder why non-Christians demonstrated more love and acceptance than did Christians. Since leaving the IC I have found love, kindness, acceptance, all the attributes of Christ demonstrated by people who have never attended church. It's easier to overlook others warts and foibles when you aren't being relentlessly judged and criticized.

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    I haven't listened either but this subject is very painful for me. Most of my family were cut off from me when I "became a Christian" (Now I say that I actually joined a cult). However the promised love and acceptance in the church only lasted as long as my brother and I were the trophy new Christians, if you get what I mean by that. He asked a lot of tricky questions and refused to go along with dress standards (once when approached about wearing a tie he wore one tied around his arm).He suicided at 21 years old in his disillusionment. I thought at first it was just a traffic accident and God's time for him but later put two and two together and realised he deliberately drove his motorcycle into a large truck. My husband and I never felt that the promise of family in the church ever worked for us. We tried so hard but never established those family like relationships. I now have one wonderful younger sister who is my family.

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    And some wonderful grown-up children

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    Basically if you join a church you will be expected to play by their rules and in some ways that's ok, it's their church. Most christians love to others in those circumstances will apply as long as you stay within the boundaries of the doctrine if you move outside then you will probably be cut off. I don't find that surprising anymore, it's what seems to happen and I don't believe that the members want to be unkind they're doing what they have been taught. Mainstream christianity can be very judgmental and unforgiving because it's largely based on fear not love. We have to remember that we are uncompromisingly loved by God and even in our darkest times he never stops loving us and living within us, even though this may be hard to believe when circumstances seem to be too much to bear but it is still the truth. So although we can be hurt and discouraged by peoples attitudes to us, God is always for us . .. .x

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