The year we were kicked out of the Christmas program

True story.

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.

About waymel

Navy wife. Homeschooling mom. Adoptive parent. Pianist. Introvert. One who loves quiet and beauty.
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9 Responses to The year we were kicked out of the Christmas program

  1. becca says:

    Oh yeah, that’s crazy. I think a lot of people get so wrapped up with and identify so strongly with (whatever) that any kind of dissent is viewed as a personal attack. I usually try to play “devil’s advocate” in sticky situations like this. BUT–this is beyond crazy. You guys are awesome and have tons to offer wherever you go.

  2. Wow, that’s insane!

    I didn’t realize you had set up a blog on here until today–I’m so excited! I went back and read all of the back posts. 🙂 I love your pictures!

  3. Jerusha says:

    Oh, Melanie! How awful. You and I seem to be leading parallel lives…sort of. I’ll send you a private message.

  4. Robyn says:

    Wow. This may be the only time I wish I was on facebook because I would have posted a public comment in your defense. Of course you can criticize a video. The church should encourage people to be free thinkers, not blind sheep. And like you said, this was a guest speaker, not even your church! It’s situations like this that give churches and christians in general a bad name. The church that wants to badly to make non believers feel comfortable, thinks nothing of making a believer very uncomfortable, even attacked. Yup, I’m sure that’s just the way God would want it handled.
    I’m sure it’s awkward taking the girls there for rehearsal, but I’m also sure the pastor overstated things a bit. “All over facebook!” Right. Words and posts must seem bigger and bolder when they disagree with his opinion. I find it hard to believe everyone knows about your comment and is wondering why you are still there. Booo on him for making a bad call. Good on you for finding a church you do like. You can soon forget this one.

  5. TJ. Church says:

    I wonder about this sort of situation myself. I’ve gone to the same church with Jen for a few months now, & we have the same Pastor 98% of the time. I don’t always understand everything he says, & disagree other times. Then, last week, they had their “Senior Adult Ministries” guy preach for the first time ever since I’ve been there, & I ran out, thinking God would want revenge for what he said.

  6. Sue says:

    Oh my, to think you can not even voice your opinion. I think this pastor owes you an apology. For him to ask you to leave and put you in this ackward situation with your children and the play is so not right. I saw the post on fb and there was nothing out of line whatsover. If he gets this so out of sorts over a video not even done by his church, then I hate to think what he would do if you had an issue with his doctrine message. Probably hang you on a cross. The man really needs to get a grip. I know what you are dealing with for that is exactly why I left the church I was going to. He taught something that was totally not the word and I left. I will stay as long as they stay in the word and truth. That is why we see the church blending in with the world, because of churches that refuse to preach the truth, so sinners can really know what salvation truly is. A message that is so pleasing to the sinner[that they dont want to offend] may make then feel ok here but will it take them to heaven? I want to hear what I need to make it to heaven not tickle my ears with all kinds of fluff.I am proud that you take a stand Mel for what you believe. The bible says Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth. Looks like that may be what happened to you.

  7. Jill says:

    LOL!! I’m sorry, but the whole thing is so ridiculous to me, because you are such a crazy outspoken loud whiner! NOT! Plastered all over FB? No, it wasn’t. People, people, people. I always said ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people. (wink) Yeah, duh, I know ministry IS people, but really….you being kicked out of the Christmas program for having an opinion about something unrelated is laughable.

  8. Joy says:

    Wow! What drama!!! 🙂 No pun intended. We are having church issues too, and I totally empathize!!

  9. Pingback: Reading Theology | waymel

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