Dilemma. Pressure. Wrestling. Discernment. Those words accurately describe the past three weeks.
There is this fellow and his family who have recently “come back” to the church I pastor. He and his wife grew up, were loved and nurtured and married in the church. His father still attends here; his mother was an active member. Her parents are both very active members. She’s still on the roll; he is not.
They left the church after a tiff with a previous pastor. He wanted the pastor’s approval to do evangelism. Free gratis. No accountability. All the people he would ‘evangelize,’ he would send the church’s way – if he could have free reign to do what ‘God had laid upon his heart.’ My precedessor, being the kind of guy he was, would share control with no one and this man and his family (two kids by that time) left the church, making a really big mess when they left.
They’ve attended every Protestant church in our area (and there are more than five). He has found fault with every pastor and congregation everwhere they’ve gone. They did last more years at the Free Church, but were asked to leave because of the conflict he’d been creating.
So they’re back. And the inevitable has occured. After six months of working me and the folks over, he’s decided he just “can’t sit under my teaching.” And I’m not even sure what he’s talking about. Really. We can’t have a discussion because it’s all about him – his theology, his beliefs, his way of doing things. I can’t get a word in edgewise – he talks over me and interrupts me. He has no idea, short of my sermons, what I even believe.
He threatens to leave and take his family with him. He has no boundaries. If he shows up at my door unannounced, he doesn’t take “This is not a good time for us to talk. We’re eating dinner. Would it be possible to come back later?” as an valid answer.
He got angry with my husband because Hub wouldn’t discuss church matters with him. Called my sweet, gentle spouse every name in the book and accused him of a lot of things. He’s gotten angry with me before because he wants me to ‘fix’ the relationship between his father and his father’s next door neighbor (who used to attend the church, but doesn’t anymore because she feels uncomfortable after being confronted by this fellow after church one Sunday).
I have refused to take his calls. I know where this is all going to end. He’s already tried triangulating church folk into taking sides. Some of them have been leaning on me to make nice with him because they add four to our dwindling numbers and more money in the coffers.
When he calls his messages have hooks in them – “I have to take of the people I’ve been called to shepherd … my family,” he says. “Our kids are missing the youth group.” “My wife misses worshipping with her parents …”. “I miss going to church with my dad. He’ll stop coming if I don’t come back.”
This fella has already told me he will not join the church as a member because he believes that you don’t have to be a member of the church to do ‘ministry.’ His idea of evangelism is to take people hostage and beat them with a Bible. He wants the church to buy a closed cafe in town, so he can set up a ministry center. No accountabililty and no commitment.
Long story short. I have my answer. The Israelis and I have at least one thing in common: We don’t negotiate with terrorists.
Let him start his own church. And I will continue to pray for his wife and children. God help them.