Please Forgive Me

Posted By on Jan 10, 2014 | 32 comments


I want to apologize for my last post. I didn’t mean to offend anyone with my words. I guess that’s the problem with blogging. You put your thoughts out there and sometimes you don’t consider how they can be taken.

Either way, my last post was not filled with grace, and therefore I’ve deleted it.

In the future I hope to be more mindful with the words I share.

I hope you’ll forgive me, and if you think about–pray for me? My heart is to always encourage others in some way.

In His hands,

Dabney

***Because of the overwhelming response in favor of this more controversial post, I’ve decided to re-post what I originally deleted. My main reason for deleting this was due to my title: “When People Suck. (Sorry Mom. And God. And Anyone Else I Just Offended. Hear me out.)”, and because my content was written with a sting still in my heart.

~~~

churchFive years ago I visited two close friends.

We’ll call them Barb and Jen.

Jen had just moved here from out of town and was considering visiting a local megachurch.

Barb scoffed, and said something along the lines of, “If all you want is a Jolly Rancher sermon, then fine. You won’t grow there. It’s fluff and no substance.”

Jen shifted in her chair, “But what about seekers? What if some people find Christ through organizations like this?”

The conversation escalated from there.

I should have said something.

My eyes darted back and forth between the two, and I sheepishly slid a little lower in my chair, as the people pleasing side of me just wanted everyone to be play nice-nice.

But they didn’t.

Two believers, one die-hard bent towards her way of worshiping because of the unbelievable growth she’d experienced, the other a lover of big churches, which offered multiple specialty outreach programs to all walks of life.

All this time later, Barb has no idea how this conversation affected Jen and her family.

But I do. I watched it unfold.

Jen loved big churches.

She always had.

Jen enjoyedthe programs and weekly meeting new people and she even used to host home fellowship groups when she lived in Nashville and attended one of the largest churches in the area.

While living in West Palm though, Jen hopped around to different medium-sized congregations, but never found one similar to her Nashville experience. So she gave up. Oh, she read her Bible and watched Andy Stanley podcasts and prayed, but she never once stepped foot into that “Jolly Rancher” church.

Not after that conversation.

I’m a little mad, sad, and relieved all squished into one right now.

Jen just told me she’s moving to Chicago.

I’m happy for her, although my heart hurts to see her go. But you know what she shared? After researching places of worship in the Chicago area, she found a large church near her new home.

She sounded excited. Then offered a qualifier, “It is one of those big churches.”

My heart sank. I knew she was hinting back to that encounter. She referenced her hesitation each time I suggested she simply give the local megachurch a try.

The whole idea of uprooting your life is filled with uncertainty, but this opportunity to get plugged in where she feels most comfortable is her glimmer of hope.

Chicagoans, beware. If I catch wind that anyone squelches this for Jen, you’ll have a five foot spunky blonde on your tail, sharing a thing or two this time.

(In the name of Jesus, of course.)

For years she avoided her favorite type of worship because of a comment.

I know it’s not all Barb’s fault. But, shame on her for planting a thought. And shame on me for not defending any sister church that is doing so much for our community.

 

St.coloman ChurchEnter Scenario #2

Recently a close friend (Cindy) told me a juicy tidbit she heard from a stranger (Bob) one Sunday morning, only moments after walking through the door of a new church she was trying out.

I envisioned the scene like this:

Cindy enters the church. Cindy is greeted by Bob who kindly asks a few questions, one including where she has attended before. As soon as Cindy mentioned her former church, Bob ranted for a good 10 minutes, listing his accusations for why he left said church.

On Sunday morning; right before the service.

(I’m glad people can’t read my thoughts and that Jesus is an awesome forgiver of my mental blunders.)

Stinking mad—that’s what I was when she relayed this conversation. I shouldn’t have had to say much. His character spoke for himself.

My lip twitched. I knew Bob. I knew why he left, and it was for few of the reasons he mentioned. Learning from my last mistake, my mind yelled at me. Say something, say something, say something!

So I did.

But it was the wrong something.

From deep within, I lurched up the dirty little secret I’d held in for so long about Bob, because I felt like there needed some justification for why he openly smeared another congregation.

How many sins am I up to in one post, including the potty-mouth title?

Please don’t count.

(God forgive me. I really am a nice Christian girl who rarely gets mad or raises her outdoor voice.)

Nonetheless, do you think Cindy went back to Bob’s church?

Nope.

We’re human. We sin, gossip, and lie because, sadly, we’re drawn towards such behavior. It’s the curse we daily fight. But for the sake of someone’s spiritual growth, please consider the harm before speaking against another church.

Or in my case, a person or pastor/staff/Christian outreach.

Pastors are human.

Churches are run by them.

We all mess up.

We all have character flaws. (Except for me, of course. I’m all squeaky clean over here.)

If you’re looking for one perfect church—good luck.

Your pastor or church or staff worker will let you down at some point.

Maybe repeatedly.

The bottom line is, no matter what, the church is Christ’s bride.

That’s God’s girl.

So the next time you see me—be warned. This five-footer has learned her lesson, and has two strikes under her belt for pitiful responses in church-defending situations. The next time, I’m gonna say something to defend her—because Christ loves her.

We’re only hurting those seeking to grow in the Lord. I can’t imagine that’s what we want. To be that person who keeps someone from Christ.

And please, if you bump into me, refrain from explaining why you left your church to begin with. It happens. I’m just happy that we’re all attending. I want us fed. As believers, we all belong in God’s household, pursuing the same ministry goals. And loving our spiritual family is God’s desire (Ephesians 2:19b).

Can we all play nice and love God and encourage others to do the same? And the next time someone tells you what church they go to or why they left somewhere or another, maybe respond with a positive fact you do know:

“I’ve heard they have a fantastic children’s/meal/prison/outreach ministry.”

See. Nice-nice.

The enemy loves our foolishness, our shooting each other with our words. We’re pretty much doing his job. He’s the great accuser, roping us in as a fleshly accomplice.

When people suck the life from Christ’s girl, our heart should quicken for another response. Let’s all be spunky little church defenders (In the name of Jesus, of course).

(For the record, I did repeatedly apologize to Cindy for my foolishness and Mom for my post title.)

Biblical Food for Thought

  • “You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” Ephesians 2:19b LB
  • “Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family.” 1 Peter 2:17 MSG
  • “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 NLT
  • “Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25b-27 NLT
  • There are seven things that the Lord hates and cannot tolerate: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind  that thinks up wicked plans, feet that hurry off to do evil, a witness who tells one lie after another, and someone who stirs up trouble among friends. Proverbs 6:16-19 GNT

“Godly Parents are on the of the greatest gifts kids can have. Yet the way to turn our kids off to the things of God is to put down the preacher, the musicians, or the people in the church. Talk about the things of the Lord and the people of God in a merciful way, and your kids will be far more likely to grow up loving the people of God and walking in the way of the Lord.” ~ Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume II pg. 477

St.coloman Church

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