When we moved here a year ago, we chose our church pretty quickly. We saw some positive things, we were anxious to meet potential friends, and we settled in. It didn’t take too long to see some things we didn’t exactly agree with, but the people were nice, I was being given the chance to sing and play on the worship team, and the programs for kids were good. So we stayed.
As time went on, I began to see more things that I didn’t like. Like many churches, this church is so focused on reaching unbelievers that they have watered everything down to such a degree that there is no substance left. They don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, don’t want to offend, so the Bible is mentioned but not really taught and doctrines are avoided altogether. The worship music is guitar-driven, loud and extremely contemporary – which I’m ok with, to a point, if there’s some substance to the lyrics. I began to see more and more songs with lyrics like this:
What have I in this life, but the love in Your eyes
This empty world will one day fade, only Your truth will remain
Jesus, all I have is You, You’re the hope I’m holding to
I might weep but still my faith rests in You
As the heavens hold the skies, it’s Your hand that holds my life
And Your love will lead me on when all else is gone
Jesus, all I have is, all I have is, all I have is You (repeat 4 times)
I began looking online at other churches in the area, and Wayne and I had a number of discussions about whether or not to leave this church. I found a mainline church downtown that has a contemporary Sunday night service; since our church did not meet then, we could easily attend both churches. So we did that for awhile. The new church emphasized Bible teaching, and regularly taught doctrine. The kids are going through catechism and even the adults are being taught the catechism for a few minutes every Sunday morning. The songs we sang there, accompanied by piano (a real piano, not a keyboard, played by a fantastic pianist), drums, bass and acoustic guitar, were more like this:
Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast.
Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
I was hooked. A few times, I went on Sunday morning and I loved their more traditional service as well. I knew it was time to make the change. Wayne and I discussed it some more and decided that we would switch churches after the Christmas program. I had been asked to lead the choir, and Abby and Emma were both in the play – and Abby had her first line in a play ever. Obviously, we couldn’t run out without fulfilling our obligations there and it was only a matter of a few weeks.
Then came last Sunday. We had a guest speaker, and he showed a video as part of his message. Wayne and I felt that it was very manipulative and we disagreed with what was being taught by its presentation. After we discussed it at home, I began to wonder if anyone else felt that way. So, I posted it on Facebook and wrote a note voicing my concerns and asking for others’ input.
And oh. my. gosh.
Let’s just say people did not agree with me. They loved the video, they loved the kids in it, they thought it was all perfect and good and they thought I sucked big time for daring to speak against it.
People are mean.
Most of my “friends” did not even address my concerns, they just put me down for disagreeing in general. Some went for meaningless cliches, like “don’t put God in a box” and “let go and let God.” Um, ok. Good one.
Some went for sarcasm and just plain biting insults. It was a good time, really.
I did have some support, but mostly it was through private messages. Someone even said that she was afraid to comment because my “friends” would tear her apart.
It was frustrating, but really, it just served to confirm to us that we had made the right decision. Finish the Christmas program and get the heck out of there.
Then it got more interesting. Yesterday morning, the pastor emailed me wanting to know if we needed to meet. He had heard from various sources that I was upset by the video and that our family would be leaving the church. After several hours of careful thought, I wrote back and explained to him that we did plan to leave after the Christmas program, and that it wasn’t because of the video but rather because of other concerns that have been in our minds for some months. I told him about the things we did like, I stated that we liked and respected him and his wife, but that our decision had been made.
He replied that since we were already planning to leave the church, we were “released from our obligations in the Christmas program.”
Um, what’s that now?
We eventually talked on the phone. He told me that people had come to him, saying it was “all over Facebook” that I was upset and leaving the church, and people were wondering why I was leading the choir if we were leaving the church soon.
“All over Facebook”???? One status update. About one video.
What I cannot for the life of me figure out is how that is news. I disagreed with the video. Yes. So?
I have this image of people flying into the church office: “Mayday! Mayday! We have a dissenter!”
Why is it so bad to voice a disagreement with something? The video was not made by people in our church, no one from our church was in it, and it was presented by a guest speaker. No direct connection to our church. I can’t imagine how so many people took it so personally. It’s such a cult-like reaction. “Someone dares to voice disagreement! Down with her!”
So. They get to find someone else to lead the choir. That’s fine. I am actually relieved that I don’t have to go back for more fluffy sermons or banal worship songs. I can’t wait til Sunday.
The difficult part is the kids. The pastor said that they are welcome to remain in the play, and I can’t deny them that chance for closure. So I have to take them to play practice for the next few weeks. It is embarrassing. I feel like the whole church (because according to the pastor, talk has been going around) is going to remember me as “that girl who got mad about a video and left in a huff.” Which is not true. But I have no way of telling my side (except for this blog, which none of them will read).
But hey, it’s memorable, right? We will always remember this as the year we got kicked out of the Christmas program. It’s definitely a first for me.