02 March, 2006

Being Right versus Being Involved - 3 (conclusion)


Why would I recommend that a group of people get together and inflict upon themselves the labor of talking doctrine until they were of one mind? I don't know whether this comes through, but I know that this is a hard, painful, boring, risky thing to try. I also know that I make myself about as popular as the flu when I suggest it.

So, why suggest it?

Not only that, but this is my third try at this concluding post. In the first attempt I quoted a bunch of scripture. (If anyone doubts that the bible requires something like this, and promises to it is possible, I can pull those verses up from draft.) In the second attempt I talked about the nature of the family. Both posts were offal.

Beyond even that whining, tonight is no night to be typing. All week I have felt like death on a stick, and tonight is only marginally better. There's not a thing on earth wrong, but I just want to curl up and go to sleep. I am still sitting here for only one reason. I wonder what I'm going to say, and I won't find out if I don't type.

I am here because I've had my heart broken by the church, and I know it doesn't have to be that way.

I've had my heart broken in the organized church. That's the kind of heartbreak you feel when you tell your family that you will be able to make it home for the holidays for the first time in a decade, and they tell you that they already have plans that weekend. (This is just an analogy, not a real story.) You have the birth certificate that tells you about your kin, but you don't really have a family. I agreed with my churches' doctrines, and we lived out a little of our love on Sundays and Wednesdays, but it wasn't enough.

I had my heart broken in the home church, too. That's the kind of heartbreak that happens when you find the most beautiful girl in the world, marry her, and find out you can't talk about anything that matters. An elephant sits in the living room dropping these gargantuan presents on the floor, and nobody can even clean them up. To clean the floor would be to admit that there was such a thing as an elephant. Eventually, the elephant dies of neglect, and everyone finally has to move out of the house.

(Forgive me for being obtuse. Tonight the emotions are running high.)

Doctrines are not the center of the universe, but let me look at them again.

In the organized church, "being right" meant that every doctrine was ordered for us before we ever got there. If a verse failed to fit into that pattern, then we had to shut up until someone could explain our error. It was when I transferred between denominations that I began to doubt this strategy. In every denomination "being right" meant having your doctrines in order, but the order was different every time. I was supposed to denominate myself from all those of the other order? Bah.

That was lunacy, so I went to the home church.

In the home church, "being right" meant never opening up any subject, except Jesus. Jesus was beautiful, and He was everything we needed. Amen. Except that Jesus did and said hard to understand things. The Jesus they leaned upon was one Who did and said everything in the ideal of the eternal realms where nobody could possibly be confused. We feared confrontation, so we drifted further and further toward the safest possible religion. We settled into an awful and mushy flavor of mystical.

Issues came up between us, but they tinkled to the floor, unacknowledged.

One day, there were too many issues, and we could not live in denial forever. We had tried to "deny" our way to faith, and failed. Denial is no garden bed for love.

So, really. After 2 long posts and in the middle of another I have to ask, "Do we need to talk out every doctrine?"


Just the ones that stand between us. Denying that they are between will not work, while acknowledging them gives us a chance to grow in so many ways!

And doctrine is only the tip of the iceberg. For example, things should happen when a brother offends. Maybe the offended party needs to get a grip, and lose some prissiness. Maybe the offender needs to apply a little direct heat to his heart, and thaw some of that ice. Either way, it is the denial that so often passes for forgiveness that will kill the church. They talk about death by a thousand paper cuts. The church dies by a thousand half-forgivings.

I don't care how we start talking to each other. I don't care how we start relating. I just know that Jesus did not die and rise again to see love lived within such limiting structures.

We need to remember the Love that now lives in us, and let it supply the courage to live it out. I have been in love before, and love doesn't just shake hands and walk away on Sundays and Wednesdays. Love lingers and labors. Love finds ways to lavish itself or even to leak out when it shouldn't. Love keeps the air clean between us. Love works very hard.

I don't care how we do it, but let's do this.


Milly said...

I'm in!
At the church that I attend our some what new minister started pointing out the elephants and asking them why they were in the building and why they feel like they do.

When talking about a different church one that looks different acts different like meeting at Starbucks, (I'm for it we could support it) . . . In this building. (oh. a.. well that's a here? :-0 ) Milly, he asked, why not? (Darn he heard me. Looking for an elephant to hide under.) Honestly I responded because it's not in Africa or away from here because it's not COC. He smiled at me. I know, I responded, It doesn't make a bit of since.

I love that he tosses out issues that makes us go HUH?!!

I should say that it's not always taken well some have left. Meetings lots of meetings because of silly things like that video clip had instrumental music.

Yep, now we are going to Heck for that. I chuckle to myself as I turn the music up.

The interesting thing for me about this post is that my church is going through some changes, our minister is asking questions and asking you why you feel like that. Some are as the say leaving the sinking ship. I want to grumble away with you rats. Yet if you aren't happy go be happy don't sit in the pew and grumble. I pray that what we become is what God wants us to be.

I am here because I've had my heart broken by the church, and I know it doesn't have to be that way.

I know that those who are heart broken because of the way we are going feel like this. One thing is for sure it's painful to leave your church home.

Thank you for making me go huh... yes... Ok.

Patchouli said...

Codepoke, the desperation of man to define God according to the finite mind (put God in a box)
ends up killing the very thing He wants for us in the first place.

The dying flesh fights hard, doesn't it?

Kansas Bob said...

Your post moved me today.

My heart breaks for the broken hearted and ask God to make something beautiful out of the pain.

blestwithsons said...

Codepoke, my brother... I don't have much input on the post itself...But I sure am sorry you're feeling crummy and I'm praying for you!

We're part of the e-hood church, dude!

codepoke said...


At the church that I attend our some what new minister started pointing out the elephants


I hope your new-ish minister is bigger than the elephants!

One thing is for sure it's painful to leave your church home.

You can say that again. I pray grace for you all to find both the Truth, and a way to live with each other. Losing either one is bad.

codepoke said...


I could take your comment as an indictment either of the church, or of my disappointments in her. Either way, it might be true. ;-) Which way should I lean?

codepoke said...

Thanks Kansas Bob,

You know, I don't hold the pastorate to blame for the things against which I complain. As I said in another post, once a church reaches a certain organizational depth it just gets impersonal. Every member of the church may be brilliant, and the pastor may be a spiritual giant, but the human need for bureaucracy gets too powerful.

My complaint against the pastorate is that it relieves us of the responsibility to know and care for each other. You get paid to know and care for us. That's not wrong per se, but the bureaucracy causes us to take it too far. Maybe I should take this up on your site?

codepoke said...

But I sure am sorry you're feeling crummy and I'm praying for you!

Must have worked. Thanks!

I have been playing with a low-grade migraine all week. I decided today that it just didn't matter. I was going to hit tennis balls with my new partner anyway! It was beautiful. He is at least 25% better than me, and he kicked my butt for 2 solid hours.

We're part of the e-hood church, dude!

Praise the Lord, and thanks!

Milly said...

He walks with the elephants very well, pointing them out as he passes. I'm learning to open my mind more and more. My husband was raised Catholic and now attents with us. He tends to ask why a lot. I feel the need to explain what I am able to, we look things up in the Bible, and I have sent him to a trusted friend and elder in our church home.

I understand the migrains I 've gotten then since I was a small child. Yesterday, right before PTA reading night, I was a big part of planning it and was to read a story that I've written to the children I came down with the grumps, God gave me the kids to make my mood go away. I woke with a banger. Should have know it was coming. I also crave chocolate the day before. Now I feel like blah.

Thanks for making us think.
Thinking is a good thing brother.

Danny Kaye said...

What a fantastic post!!!

This is the kinda stuff that endears me to people. Humility, vulnerablity, honesty...awesome!

I was baptized into Christ 18 years ago. The church was just starting to thrive and grow into a worldwide movement. Our goal was to win the world in our generation and we were off to a great start.

But as I've said before, some "stuff" happened that killed the spirit of the church (note that I used a lower-case "s". Nothing can kill the "S"pirit of the church).

I will never forget being in a leaders meeting and hearing about some of the church's world leaders disunity. It was the first I had heard of it. And I remember being crushed by the answers to my further questioning about the top leadership. It became clear that there was about to be a major break-up of what was once known as the "International Churches Of Christ".

I remember the pain, confusion, and anger. I thought, "Why couldn't the leaders have just been like Jesus and stayed unified? Why did they have to ruin it for everyone else?"

And within a year, the whole movement fell apart. In the Boston Chruch alone we were baptizing 60 souls per week. And within a year, we were down to baptizing maybe 100 in a year and losing more than that.

Mind you, I have the same conviction as Codepoke. It was not the leaders fault that I stopped preaching the Word. That one is on me. (OK...I have that conviction now. I didn't at first.)

And now I am left with one question:
Why in the world are so many of my comments this long??!!!? (sorry)

MILLY said...

danny kaye,
I guess not being a leader or always plugged into the "politics" of the churches I'm not exactly sure what the International Church of Christ is. I do know that several years ago the statement was made in our church the we were governed by ourselves. That could have been when it started happening.

Our latest is that we are trying to build unity with the Christian Church again. Some aren't attending the ISWW because of it. That whole brothers and sisters in Christ goes out the window when you bring to the back yard.

I'm posting long on someone else's blog myself stop the COC folks before we take over!

codepoke said...

I will never forget being in a leaders meeting and hearing about some of the church's world leaders disunity.

That's a moment that breaks the faith of everyone involved. Praise the Lord that you have healed so well.

Why in the world are so many of my comments this long??!!!? (sorry)

Hey! Brightens my day every time. Thanks!

codepoke said...

I'm posting long on someone else's blog myself stop the COC folks before we take over!

Hmmmm. Something about COC makes people post thoughtfully and at length. Yes, we must control this behavior!

Milly said...


Bro. Tim said...


I'm the pastor of a smaller-older church. It's way past it's hay-day. Some of the things you mentioned are in my church, and it's breaking my heart. I'm a younger pastor, and it is killing me to watch as people are unintentionally destroying their own fellowship.

codepoke said...

Hey Tim,

The church I am attending is also small and older. Or, well, it was. In the 6 months I've been there, they have continued to grow from 60 to 90, and mostly young couples. They are pretty tickled.

I love being around all the older folk, and I am amazed at the music they let the worship guy play. Pure Christian pop radio.

Don't take my word for anything, as I am just a diesel mechanic/programmer, but if I could say anything to you it would be this. You don't get to criticize anyone for anything for years. You also can't let anyone criticize anyone else to their face. Constant positive.

You do, however, get to set really high standards and measure how everyone is performing. I have no idea what this means to a pastor, but that's how it works as a leader of programmers. Everyone's ego is just too wrapped up in what you think of them. You have to support everyone at all times. But you can set high, legitimate standards for the team and let everyone know how the team is doing.

I think that's why building programs are so successful. It's objective. Everyone can see the progress, and work a little harder together. The squabbles are laid aside because there is something exciting happening for everyone.

Brother, I pray the Lord will build your people together. Of course, I recommend that you pick a neighborhood and begin a years-long plan of owning that neighborhood for Christ, but you did stumble into the "Familyhood Church" site - that's to be expected. No matter what the Lord lays on your heart, may He bless it richly.