Yesterday was supposed to be my last Sunday as a formal part of the Resistance, with any future participation as yet undetermined. Instead, after, clearly, taking a risk by posing some hard questions to the board of the Resistance and informing them of our intention to no longer be regular participants in the Resistance’s worship gathering, I was told repeatedly that I was in fact no longer welcome at the worship gatherings and that my relationships with those board members had been “irrevocably changed” (Irrevocably? Really?) and no less than “severed.”
For the first time in a long time, we had been so very hopeful when the Resistance started not much more than a year ago. We hoped that God actually was up to something here in NE Ohio, at least in a way that we could connect with. We hoped that there were at least a few like-minded folks around who were both like-minded and who were also still trying to follow Jesus. We hoped that a community was being formed that took being the Church, rather than just “doing church,” seriously and was making every effort to be gathered and organized in that way. We hoped for nothing less than a bona fide “family” with whom we could “practice resurrection” and “be the change” we so yearned for.
As those hopes were tempered by the experience of actually trying to live life with those folks that made up the Resistance, we understood this to be the natural result of dealing with real, fallible, broken people just like us and though the Resistance did not progress like we might have liked it to, we remained resolute in our commitment to them and to the dream that was outlined so well in the Resistance’s “Manifesto.”
What a difference a year makes.
Admittedly the Resistance has been on the decline for some time now as lots of uncertainty regarding its leadership and a related lack of direction from that leadership resulted in a steady decline in the number of participants and a fatal lack of consistency as worship gatherings and other meetings were moved, changed, or canceled on a near weekly basis, for example. Then, and without going into details inappropriate for this space, I’ll simply say that there was a scandal involving part of the leadership of the church, and the knee-jerk reaction on the part of the rest of the leadership- including some parties very directly and intimately affected by the scandal- was, I felt, inappropriate, not to mention “unbiblical.” Foolishly, in hindsight (always in hindsight), I tugged on this “string” by questioning how all this was going down. I had been asking questions for a while, uncomfortable questions, I guess, challenging questions, always in the hope that doing so would keep us on track to live up to the incredible promise of that “Manifesto.” Anyway, in keeping with the metaphor, it wasn’t long before my “tug” on that “string” led to the unraveling of the whole thing, at least inasmuch as the “thing” was our participation in the Resistance or in any sort of viable ongoing relationship with its leaders.
So, having been told that I’m unwelcome at any worship gathering and that my relationship with the leadership has again been “severed,” we are left, again, to pick up the pieces. I recently said that “being a pastor is a fearsome responsibility.” Indeed it is, and that is part of why I am not one. Sadly, a pastor’s actions have contributed to where we are now (having to pick up those pieces of this debacle), and the result may be that our participation in any future faith community is one of the pieces that gets left behind.