I've started a few entries with the following explanation, and here I go again... I used to blog about church stuff quite a bit - but I usually don't like to blog about things (especially personal things) when times are hard, I'm upset, etc. Too many people involved, too many people that might read by blog that are involved, etc. But every once in a while this is just my journal and I just have to get stuff out.
Last week, church was AWESOME. Practice was great, worship was great, the preaching was great. I was interested like I haven't been for a long time. Teresa always does a GREAT job at preaching. Always something from her heart, and from the Holy Spirit. Or so it appears to me. Of course, there was only like 1 person in church when we started worship, but that is pretty normal. Teresa just turned around towards us and said, "If it is just us and the sound team, and no one shows up, we're just going to worship God." In my opinion, that is how it always should be. We should worship God with all our might, regardless, and whoever else is there can follow along. That is how we lead the congregation into his throne room. But by 15 minutes or so into it (about 1/2 way) there were quite a few people. Anyway, it was just an awesome time. Jacque was over there rocking.
Jacque is a singer. She doesn't think she is all that great, and might not be. I don't know. But she is a worshipper. There are certain people you just connect with. The kind that worship like you do. I can still hear Di Stucki sing in some songs, and its been probably 8 or 9 years since I sung with her. But I would be worshipping and hear these angelic voices in my head and all of a sudden Di would start singing the same line. You just connect with some people. Jacque is like that with HOW she worships. She just rocks. You can tell what parts she feels are passionate and which are intimate, etc. Anyway, she was rocking and I always feed off of that.
And then Bobby was laying down some lines on his lead guitar, and he is so easy to follow. He'll just take it some place at times. Again, another person I can just worship with so easy. Plus I've watched him grow over the last... gee 4 or 5 years. From being this "kid" who wanted to play guitar, and knew how to some, to someone who lead the youth worship team, to an excellent lead guitar player on the adult team.
And then my baby was playing keys and singing (which is so awesome for me) and Michael was of course... well Michael - another person I can follow anywhere, and the rest of the team was all in sync. Steve with his "ad libs" which I can always hear in my head, even when he isn't there or the song is on the radio - and cause me to follow his voice, and everyone else. It was just awesome.
So last week was very good. The anticipation for this week was... hard. Pastor Joe had been in CA for a week, praying about what to do about the church. The church is getting smaller and smaller, and the finances are shrinking. There has been a feeling all summer that the church is going to close. Once Tina left I wasn't sure if I should stay or not. But I hate giving up and I'm extremely loyal to the worship team. So honestly, I've just been hanging in there, waiting to see if it will close - because then I won't have to make the decision to leave.
Jacque had quit at the office the week before last. Two Fridays ago was her last day, and that was hard. She felt in all good conscienceness that the church just couldn't afford her any longer, and she couldn't do it for free. So she had to quit. Pretty much some of the same things that Tina went through. I was wondering if she'd be back. Sometimes when you quit working in the office, you stop coming to church as well. But she was there the following Sunday (when things were so awesome) - so i was happy about that. And then I found out during the week that she and Spanky had left the church. That was her last Sunday. And I was pretty sad about that.
Worship team members come and go, its just part of being at Impact, which has a rather large turn-over rate. Larger than any church I've gone to before. You get used to it. All summer I've been worshipping every Sunday like it might be the last Sunday I worship with this team. Either because someone will leave, I'll leave, or the church will close. And all summer that has pretty much been how it has been. You come in one day and Teresa says "So and so has stepped down". And you know that you'll most likely never be part of a worship team with that person again, unless something really bizzare happens (and you end up at the same church), they come back, or most likely until you get to Heaven and you're playing together. (That is always my big "sliver lining" - "Well... some day I'll play with that person in Heaven. And then it will be awesome") So it was very sad.
So this Sunday I came into church and started setting up and looked over and knew I wouldn't see Jacque, and that saddened my Spirit. And then Rich (the lead sound tech) said, "You can set up closer to the drums because Bobby isn't going to be here today." I thought "great", sigh. I hate when Bobby ins't there. Oh well. So I started setting up and got all my stuff unloaded and Jaime came over and I said, "So Bobby isn't here today?", "Nope... And I doubt he'll be coming back. He was pretty upset." And I knew in my spirit that was true. Bobby is Jacque's son and because Jacque was so hurt, and upset, etc. when she quit - well Bobby probably is feeling bad for his mom (and whatever else might be going on) and so he probably quit too.
And it just hit me and I had to get out of there, so I had all my stuff unloaded and I always have to drive the Jeep around front. (We can't park in back of the school because it is a fire zone. There is only room in the back for the music trailer and Pastor Joe's car when he gets there). So I went out and got in the Jeep, drove it around front, and started crying. Its just so pointless. All the hurt people. All the people that tried so hard, that worked so hard, that gave their lives and finally just couldn't do it anymore. I called Tina and cried for a minute, then put on my happy face and went back into the church to finish setting up.
Practice was ok, other than the fact that I felt like Bobby might never be there again... but you never know. Maybe he was just taking the day off. Then it was time to start and Pastor Joe and Patti (his wife) were there. That is pretty extrodinary. Usually Pastor Joe doesn't show up until the worship service is about half or 2/3rds over. But he was there this morning. Something must be going on. Worship was pretty good - but there was a lot in the air.
Then Pastor Joe preached... Well really not so much preached, but just talked about where the church is. How things had been rough for so long: Teri leaving him, the church going through a split, people leaving, etc. Why he believes what he believes. He talked about how he has really hasn't been there for the church, for a long time. How if it hadn't been for Teresa and all her effort, the church would be gone. [Which is true... but it was Tina that held it together for 2 years - with help from Teresa and Jacque, and its Teresa - with help from Jacque that has been holding it together for the last 6 months. But the politically correct thing to do is just mention those who are present. To bring up people who are gone just makes people think about them, and that is a bad thing] So that upset me a bit that he didn't mention Tina - but hey, I didn't expect it.
He talked about how we in the American church are programmed to need a vision, but that isn't a new testament thing. That our vision is to do Christ's commission, and that is all we should need. So he isn't going to talk about a vision and a mission of the church to be "missions based" or "worship based" or whatever. We are a grace church and that is what we are. We don't need a vision.
He talked about how some pastor's like dealing with people's problems and fixing them; but that's not him. He hates people problems. He can't deal with them. He can't solve them. He is terrible as a counsoler. All he wants to do is teach and not deal with people problems. So if dealing with people problems is being a pastor, then he guesses he isn't a pastor.
He talked about he had wanted to give it all up. That he asked God to kill the church or let him kill it. But God told him to hang on. God let the church die, so that it could be reborn. "If a seed drops and lies on the ground, it just lays there. But if it dies, and is reborn, it bears fruit." God had to let the church die so it would bear fruit. This is a grace church, with a different ... (well not vision - because vision is an old testament thing - I forget the word used) whatever. We will teach grace, and things made get weird at times, but they'll be fun too.
God let the church get to the point it did because some people had to leave. People who had their own agendas. And now that they were gone, the church could be what God wanted it to be. [So Tina - who had cancer surgery on Tuesday morning and then came in Tuesday night to work with a speaker, did so because of an agenda. And Tina who had cancer surgery and came in that weekend, because Pastor Joe needed her to do something, did it because she had an agenda. Tina and Jacque, who with Teresa moved the entire office, mostly by themselves, and laid on the floor and cried because they were so exhaused, and so frusturated because Pastor Joe wouldn't come over and help move one box, and the furniture and boxes were so heavy for them, but they had to get moved in. And then when they did get moved in, when they thought and planned and figured out how to make the 3 offices work for the 7 people who needed to be in there; then Pastor Joe came in and said that Tina couldn't share the back office with him, but needed to move her stuff out, move the stuff out of the middle office, and she needed to take that office, because he needed the back one to himself - and then for the next 6 months he never set the office up. He never came in and actually used it as an office. After they all just submitted, sacrified their own time, their family time and worked so hard - because they believed in the dream of Impact - that was all because of their own agendas.] So you look at Tina, and Jaque, and Roger and Rachel, and all the others - and they all had their own agendas. They were in God's way, and now that they are gone, God can do with the church what he wants. Yeah, that ticked me off to no end. But maybe that isn't what he meant. That is always a good church spin/PoliticalCorrect thing to say - "The bad ones are gone and now God can do what he needs to." It gives the people hope and makes the feel better.
I'm a Pace (PDP test) and very loyal. And I'm a father with 2 girls. No boys. I'm it. The only man. I'm fiercly protective of my girls. And one of my girls was just attacked. In my younger days I've been known to "come out of my shell" (of being an introvert) and beat into someone for doing that. But I'm a Christian now, and that isn't very Christ like.
So - Pastor Joe has seen the light now. God is going to rebuild, and he is going to try and follow the spirit more. So maybe the church is going to turn around. But what does that mean?
The he said, "If you aren't having fun here, then I really suggest that you find another church where you can have fun. Because we can't rebuild and have people here who aren't having fun and who are bitter." Well, I'm certainly not having fun, and I am bitter. I've seen too much.
So I was angry anyway, and then after service when I was packing up (we had 5 minutes to pack up or pay extra fees because we only have the building till Noon and it was 11:55), Teresa walked up and told me that Bobby had stepped down from the team. And I just started shaking. Tina, Roger and Rachel, Tina Nance, Jacque and Spanky, and now Bobby. Yup, all people who were just here with their own agendas.
I was so mad I couldn't even eat or stay at home. I went home, unloaded my equipment, and went and saw Dreams. (Where I wanted to just reach around and tell the woman behind me to SHUT UP - but I figured partially it was just the mood I was in (yeah... ya think? ;)).
So - what to do. The choice seems clear. Pastor Joe said it. "If you aren't having fun, I suggest you go somewhere else, where you can have fun." - And I always have an open door to do ministry with the Tom and Jennifer. But it isn't that easy. I love the worship team. My baby is on the worship team. And she is growing every week. She looked like such the young woman yesterday. It saddened me that Tina doesn't get to see that. (Tina knows the church is hurting, and it just tears her up to come in and see the people). Do I want to miss that? Do I want to step down and not play with her every week? And I love Teresa and Greg. Teresa and I had a rough time at one point, but I know she is called to be a worship director. She flows in the spirit. She follows God during a service. I'm a rut person, I'm a loyal person, I'm a passionate and loving person. I don't want to lose playing on the team. Steve is there. Michael is there.
So - even though I'm not having fun, I have a lot to lose. And that is the boat most everyone who has left has been in. That was certainly the place Tina was at. But she just couldn't take it any longer. That is the place I believe Jacque was at.
And its not Pastor Joe's fault. He'll tell you straight out. He is who he is. He doesn't believe a church needs a vision. He doesn't believe a church needs elders and trustees. He isn't a good counsoler. He avoids dealing with people problems. He believes that church is a ministry from God - and that God is our loving Father who only wants good for us. If the ministry is hard - then you are doing it wrong. If the ministry takes too much time - then you are doing in wrong. So he is probably never going to be what Tina wanted from him. He is probably never going to be what other people want from him. He is never going to deal with people problems. He is never going to be a leader (either you know how to do ministry and its from God or you don't. He doesn't need to spend time showing you how to do that.). He is never going to be in the office 9 - 5. (If its hard or something you don't want to do - its not from God). And its unreasonable to put those expectations on him. We are all who we are. I was raised with a strong work ethic. I was raised that the man takes care of the family, no matter what. The family comes first, not the man. That isn't how Pastor Joe is - and it is unreasonable for me to expect him to be me. He isn't. (And he has strengths that I don't have).
So the question is - can I serve with that kind of teacher (because as he said, he isn't a pastor or a leader) as the head of my church? Is being on the worship team with Teresa, Greg, Steve, Domonic, Michael and my baby Jaime, worth it? Can I have a good heart, listen to God, worship Him, and get something out of the services. Or will I continue to be so mad, so frusturated and so hurt by all that the lack of leadership and effort has done to my wife, my friends, and to me?
I don't know. Pastor Joe says things are going to change. But what does that mean. It probably means things are somehow going to get better. But it doesn't mean he is going to change. He is who he says he is - and that is fine. But can I put up the good fight? Can I give up Thursday nights with Tina to practice. And then get up at 6:00 on Sunday so I can load my equipment for 30 minutes, go set up for 45, practice for an hour, so I can do worship in a church where the Pastor, the example to the people, usually blows off worship? But maybe that has changed. Maybe at the very least he has gotten a revelation that part of being a Pastor is at least showing up.
And all of this is not how it is supposed to be. Being a Christian and going to Church is not supposed to be about being angry, about leaving church shaking you are so mad. Can I put down this "ugliness" that is in me, stop talking to Tina about it and ripping open her wounds, and just let things be how they are, and go for just the worship.
I don't know. And after writing all of this... I still don't know. But I do think writing this has helped. I think it is causing something to happen in me.
Maybe it will be alright. Maybe things will change. Maybe things will get better. Maybe so much better that we'll all be happy and it will be a good place, and Tina will come back.
But it will still be sad regardless. There are people that have left - good people - people who did all that was within them to do - that will never be back. And that is sad. It is sad because it was a dream we all had. A dream we all fought for. A dream, in my opinon, that God had. And it will never come to pass. At least not with that exact set of people.
So - I'll just have to put my anger down, my hurt down, my offenses for other people, and talk to God about it. Really talk to him. And see what he wants me to do.
Thanks for listening. Most likely no one has read this far. Too depressing. Too "ugly". But hey... sometimes I just need to talk - and I'm too much of an intravert to do it in person.