When does valid concern and criticism about an important issue become a critical spirit? At what point does it cross a line? Even when the matter being addressed is something of importance and close to the heart of God?
I’m not sure I know the exact answer to that question. But I do know that God had reined me in this week in the area pertaining to my church.
God in His world counsels us that we are united in the body of Christ not divided.
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10
“God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
Our church, Kindred Community Church, has been going through a time of transition for some time now…since our beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski went home to be with our Lord. That was back on September 18, 2005…almost two years now.
In that intervening time…Kindred began the search for a new Sr. Pastor who will be our Pastor, teacher, spiritual leader and friend. God has used the time since Chuck’s death to prepare us for the man whom He has called. At times I’ve been anxious to see who that man is. At times…I’ve been very much at peace knowing that God is in control…and that in His perfect timing God will raise up our new Pastor.
Since we don’t have a Sr. Pastor…we have had a number of men…pastors, teachers and leaders in the Christian community preaching on Sundays. Like the well known disagreements that churches can get in to over music styles…there has been differing opinions on those who have preached over these almost two years.
But I guess whether we favor the speaker that week or have someone else that we resonate with the one thing we can all give thanks for is God’s provision. We can also give Jesus Christ…praise, honor and glory for how He has kept the body of Christ at Kindred knit together. That’s not to say that some have not left to attend other churches in the intervening time. The truth be told…some have. But for the most part…we remain in tact and committed to Jesus Christ, each other and sharing the Gospel message with a lost and dying world.
Another thanksgiving and praise should go to God who has raised up committed members of Kindred’s Pastoral Search Committee. Because of their dedication and sacrifice and commitment to finding the man whom God has called…I am confident that one day (hopefully soon) we will have our Pastor. A thank you must go to also to our Elders for their commitment to finding the man of God who is committed to deep, uncompromised teaching of God’s word. Someone who will teach us the meat of the Word…not baby food that will not nourish the body of Christ.
No where was that more evident than recently when the search looked like it might be coming to an end…but for reasons that remain confidential…a decision was not made regarding those candidates. While disappointed…I was somewhat relieved to know that they were not going to settle just because we are desperate. That they weren’t going to go with the next pretty face or with the one who would weave stories that would tickle our ears and makes us feel good…but in the end leave us empty and without hope.
Would the Search Committee and the Elders like this to be over? You beta ya! Are they tired of bearing a heavy responsibility…that has not yet ended? You beta ya! Are they undergoing spiritual warfare and attacks from the enemy? You beta ya! Do they feel the burden when our congregations speaks up and shares concerns about it taking so long…or if a speaker is not everyone’s cup of tea…or if they see members starting to go elsewhere? You beta ya they do! But more than that…these godly men and women are committed to finding the man whom God has called to be our new Sr. Pastor.
I think it’s also time to give thanks to fellow members of Kindred for remaining committed to Christ Jesus and each other. It makes a big difference when we are involved with one another and connected. That became clear to me recently when I thought on Sunday…I might like to go and hear a preacher at a church that I’ve heard is a great Bible study teacher. But I realized…that gee wiz…I couldn’t because it was my week to serve in this area or that area.
That interconnectedness is also apparent when someone is on vacation or out of town…and their presence is greatly missed. Someone not being there is noticed. The love for other believers is made clear when people will come up and ask how you are doing if there has been a recent prayer request on your behalf or that of a family member or friend.
One of the things I love best about my church…is that it’s multigenerational. We have grandparents, parents and children of the same family that attend. Yet…there room for that person who doesn’t have any family…or if it’s just them or their spouse. Everyone is loved and welcomed in.
So this week…when I had a concern…and it was clear that God was reining me in to not necessarily speak my mind…I thought that perhaps He has another message instead.
Is God testing out hearts? Does He desire for us to cry out to Him? To go to Him in confident desperation…knowing He is able in His perfect timing to bring our new Pastor? To seek God and His will for our church? To draw close to Him…to have a listening ear for Him? Is He testing our hearts? Will we remain steadfast in studying the word of God? We will go to midweek studies? Will we study God’s word…only when it’s convenient? Or will we put in that extra push? Will we be committed to one another? Will we be divisive and back biting or grateful and committed?
I guess it’s a fine line to walk. There may be a time to speak up and share concerns with the Elders. There may also a time humble myself under their leadership…because I know of their commitment to finding God’s man. To trust God’s call on their lives as our leaders. Ultimately to trust God and His sovereignty and leadership during this time of transition.
In the mean time…I am grateful for God’s care and provision for our church. I must say…I’m prejudice…because I love the teaching of some of the men from Kindred…be it Dave Dunn…my favorite Bible study teacher…or Jack Grogger and Joe Rispoli godly leaders who work with the youth of our church. No matter if it’s one of our homegrown men…or a visiting Pastor…Kindred’s pulpit has never been empty.
Perhaps it’s also a reminder that we as body of Christ need to be praying for the man who will be teaching us from God’s word that week. Knowing that He is able to equip them each week. Knowing that God is also at work in their lives. They may just be passing through for a week or two…and we have a chance to show them the love of Christ.
Not only does God call us to be united, not divided. But He also counsels us that the most important thing is love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13
So to answer my opening question…when and where does a valid concern become a critical spirit? I think that when I stop walking in love. When I make it about me…and not about God. When I’m walking in pride…not walking humbly with my God. When I fail to be grateful for God’s provisions.
A fine line to walk…but I know of One who will walk it with me. All praise, honor and glory be to Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen!
Now if I may be so bold…if I could ask any Christians reading this post to lift up Kindred Community Church and say a prayer for our church that God in His perfect timing will raise up the man of God whom He has called. That we will have ears to hear…and a heart to obey God each step of the way. Thank you so much for your much coveted prayers for my beloved church.