On ministry and Chan...

Chan Chandler is 33 years old, my age. Chan was the minister in North Carolina who told his congregants that if they did not vote for George Bush in the last election, then they need to repent or remove themselves from that particular congregation. As a result, 9 people left or were removed from the rolls after refusing to kowtow to the demands made from a bully in a pulpit. The fallout from this left 40 or so members so uncomfortable in their own church that they could no longer attend.

He is my age, and in his short career he has destroyed a congregation. What a legacy to behold…

When ministers are called into this vocation, they are called into a life of service. This is part of the reason that spending a lifetime in a congregation scares the hell out of me. I barely trust myself as it is, and others want me to be in charge of the spiritual life of a large group of people? Chan Chandler is the reason why I never wanted to go into the church in the first place. He, also, is the reason why I fear for the future of the church.

His actions are a clear violation of the trust that people place in ministers when they enter the pulpit. But what gets me is what this “pastor” said as he left the congregational meeting where he resigned. He stated that he needed to leave for his own and his family’s sake.

No mention of the congregation and what his bullying has done to it. No contrition for the contention that he has caused. No mention about the fact that this congregation is now broken, the body of Christ that he was placed in charge of is now on life support because of his words, this rhetoric cannot be seen as holy or faithful to the word of God. The word of God builds the body it does not tear it apart.

As I think about his words upon leaving, I can understand the desire to protect oneself and one’s family. I can understand not wanting to bring a firestorm down upon one’s personal life and one’s faith. I cannot understand where someone gets the idea that believing in God means excluding and dividing a church over petty ideological differences.

I will admit that I stand left of center on just about every political issue. I will admit that this colors the way I preach and teach and exegete. I will also admit that I do the best I can to respect the difference of opinion that surrounds me. My preaching is about challenging the common perceptions that the way it is, is the way it is intended to be. I hope that my sermons challenge people to dialogue rather than exclude people for what they believe. Since my first sermon here almost two years ago, I have begged people who disagreed or thought differently to come and talk with me.

Ministers are fallible human beings who will no doubt disappoint their congregations, their families, and themselves at one time or another. When ministers set themselves up as the people who know things, or have the answers, then they set themselves and their congregations up for a fall of biblical proportions. Chan Chandler, should he have any awareness into his own life, can attest to that statement. The kicker is that those who hurt congregations rarely have any capacity for self-supervision and are more likely narcissists who will move from place to place devouring all who dare get in their way.

The saddest part of this caper is that he will probably be rewarded for his “defense of Christianity.” Some other whack job will give him a plaque and a job because of his outspoken belligerence to the secular left. Someone will want him to speak or write a book about the ordeal, cementing in his mind the importance and “rightness” of his actions. All of this for destroying a congregation, for supposedly defending God’s truth, which I am not sure needs defense from us at all.

The congregation in North Carolina should pray for him, as one prays for all enemies, but also be glad that he has chosen to move on. However, when have you known a congregation to happily move on?

And thus begins my journey to the dark side. A journey that will take me into the biggest cosmic joke God has ever played on humanity, becoming a minister…



Visit InfoServe for blogger templates