10 May, 2006

Picking the Next FHC Topic

"Picking," "Announcing," - poTAYTo, poTAHTo.

Actually, I use the word, "picking," to draw out the fact that I'm not sure whether to go forward with part 1. I am hoping for input.

We have talked about the the perfect church, but that was kind of a high level view. (Don't forget DK is doing The Perfect Church right now. He just posted installment #3 of 5.) I am now thinking about the kind of leadership that can make that church happen.

What does it mean to lead in the body of Christ?

Before I get there, though, I know where the path runs; it leads right through the family. Both of the main passages on picking elders start off with an evaluation of the candidate's family.

That is a touchy subject for anyone.

Approaching it as a divorced man with one unbelieving child and another struggling is somewhere between nervy, daunting, and asinine.

But I am not exactly alone in being a divorced believer. I have heard that the church's peformance in this area is statistically the same as the world's, and that the church actually exceeds the norm for society in general in child and spouse abuse. Of course, statistics being somewhat less reputable than damned lies, it is hard to know whether Christians are really doing better than society as a whole. It seems to me that we are not.

Given all that we now know about Rom 8:4, it is impossible that we should be doing so poorly in this critical area. If the Spirit enables us to live out the righteous requirements of the law, then we should all still be married, and happily at that. I'm just not seeing it happening.

So, why not?

Or, should we just say, "It's the fall. Bad things happen to good people. We're not perfect, just forgiven," and walk away? Is there something the church can do to prevent this trend? More weekend retreats? More sermons on submission?

Here's my mind on the subject of whether I should post on something for which I am utterly disqualified:
  • I think we need to talk about this, if we are going to talk about the church. I think we need to talk about what the church is not doing for marriages that allows so many divorces. I think we need to talk about how the church should approach the divorced.
  • I don't know what to say about it. I don't really even have coherent thoughts together yet, though I can sense them at the edges of my vision.
  • If anyone thinks that we should not talk about this, then we will start there.
  • If anyone thinks that we should talk about it, but that I am not the one, then I will ask you to post on your site and I will happily comment over there and shut up over here.
  • If neither of those things happens, then I am going to try to screw up my courage and start a discussion. I will actively admit up front that all of my experience is of failure.
  • I will be writing about other divorced people, not myself, as much as possible to keep the topic from getting too wierd. I post some pretty "out there" stuff about myself, I know, so I think that it would be wise to exercise a little discipline on this one.


Remember, the long term topic is leadership in the church, but before we get there we have to take a longish trip through the family in the church.


Weekend Fisher said...

It's such a worthwhile topic, and so ignored. Marriage takes work, and grace, and determination. Strange, I've even been thinking about posting on divorce myself though I was going to start with "Sun Tzu's back door" and how that principle from the Art of War applies to marriage. If you get going, I may kind of interact over on my blog. I expect I only have a week or two of systematic theology left in my current series.

But my kids are not well-served by the stuff we do now for sex ed. Do they know that promiscuity undermines the skills that marriage will require? They haven't heard it in church or Sunday school, though I'm trying to fix that and they've heard it at home.

The pastor preaches mostly law and grace, but never "grace within marriage". Sometimes he covers good and evil (e.g. abortion), but not divorce.

What gives?!?!

I think it's exactly us divorced folks who have to break the ice and get people talking.

Milly said...

I think it's exactly us divorced folks who have to break the ice and get people talking.

I agree. I've been on the edge and in fact was going to post about marriage on my site.

My vote is to do it.

Danny Kaye said...

Can I pose a question without being stoned? (With rock, I mean...)

Why do we need to address the family itself?
I understand about the eldership and all that. But eldership is only one aspect of leadership in the church.

Maybe we could take a different twist on leadership in general.
How about leading by example whether we have a title or not, for instance? Would that pretty much inculde everyone.

I can either way with it and be just as excited about it. That's just my thinking.

Danny Kaye said...

Woe...Millie snuck a comment in while I was typing.

It looks like I am out numbered.
Whatever you all decide is cool.

Milly said...

Why do we need to address the family itself?

Don't you think that it's something to look at when leadership is being looked at. I looked at it when I voted for president. (Shut up Milly! Ya trouble maker!)

Danny Kaye said...

I agree with you, Millie.
If I were picking a leader of a church or large group, then yes...I would look at the family to see if it lines up with biblical shepherding.

But if I am picking a volunteer leader for a small to mid-size group then all that I care about is "Does that person walk with God?"

I know folks whose families are a mess because of the sins of the past, but who have repented and are doing exceptionally well. Should I consider only their sins of the past and not their current repentance for leadership of a small group?

Leadership, when focused on a smaller group, does not necessarily need to meet the traits of eldership.

Yeah...I could be wrong.

Andreia said...

Go forth man! One of my favorite topics no doubt and I hope to read it all and try to keep quiet. like all good women must. OOPS!

codepoke said...

OK, then. We are a go.


I think.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

I already know that I am going to make myself a liar on the suggestion that I not talk much about myself. I see no way through the mire that is my mind without talking about a good bit about what I know best. Sorry.

Now, to all the great comments.

codepoke said...

Weekend Fisher,

Sun Tzu's back door

Hmmm. Google was not very helpful on this one. Something more to look forward to.

grace within marriage

Amen. Grace and transformation are both necessary.

I think it's exactly us divorced folks who have to break the ice and get people talking.

Here we go.

codepoke said...

I agree. I've been on the edge ...

Honestly, Milly, this merely proves that you are married. I don't know of a single marriage that has not been here. Even the 70+ year olds with 50+ years in let me know that they got close over and over.

There are signs that things may be bad, really bad. Thinking about divorce is NOT one of them.

codepoke said...

Can I pose a question without being stoned?

Duck, Danny Kaye! Incoming!

Why do we need to address the family itself?

I know that you have already released this question, but it's a good one.

At the risk of obviating the need for this whole series, I will say that you can know every leader by his or her family. In fact, the family is where the leader should make his/her first mistakes. Damage control is a lot easier there, and the stakes are not so high as in the church.

We need to learn how to do more than just keep a family together. We need to learn how to lead a family. (Men and women both.)

codepoke said...


... and try to keep quiet.

I guess I can forgive you. :-)

codepoke said...

A handful of posts ago, the subject of stalking came up. I will repeat my final comment here, because I think it's worth repeating and people are still reading here.

OK. Moment of seriousness on the whole "stalker" thing.

Let me plug "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker. Here's my review of it from my first month of blogging.

In it, De Becker explains that the only correct reaction to a stalker is complete non-interaction. Nothing. No "one last message to say I mean it". One time say, "I do not want to continue this interaction" or something like that, and never, never, never answer again. In this way, you can be sure you don't antagonize, and that you get what you want - to be left alone.

Solid advice.


With relation to this post, the book offers some solid advice, too. He blows denial as a life strategy right out of the water.

A lot of our family problems stem from denial that they exist.

DugALug said...

This is juicy stuff.

The roles of leadership are clearly defined in the Bible, but the litmus for who makes the best leaders are not. Here are some observations:

1) Moses was the humblest of all men (Quote from God to Aaron).

2) The best leader is the one who serves you the best (Paraphrase from Jesus)

3) A good leader looks not east or west, but up (Parphrase From David).

4) A good leader is wise and true wisdom can only come from the Lord (Paraphrase from Solomon)

5) A true leader never gives up. He will fight with all that is in Him for the causes that put him there in the first place. (i.e. Jacob/Israel).

Concerning divorce, even with the issue eldership, it is not etched in stone.

The scripture that he must be of one wife is interpretted as not divorced. Interestingly, I was asked to be an elder at my church when I was 24, and one member contended that since I was single, I was not of one wife.

Here is the epiphony that I had concerning this for me and eldership:

1 Cor 11:5

6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

Seems like an unrelated scripture right? This is what God put on my heart.

The issue is that you must either be a woman or a man. If a woman wants to do the things that a man does, she must be as a man. She cannot fall back and say I am willing to do these things that men do, but I can't do that because I am a woman.

The same was with me and eldership. If I was to assume the role of an elder, I needed to be an elder. I couldn't fall back and say I can't make that decision because I am too young.

The point is that God directs his children to places, if it is the mantle of leadership, then that is what it is and we should do so with our whole heart.

There are obvious limitations to this. For instance, it is probably not wise to make a former sex offender into a children's pastor. It is not that I don't beleive that God has redeamed him because I know this is totaly possible. It is merely an issue that I am not God, and the safety of those children are at stake.

Concerning divorce? Would it matter the nature of the divorce? Probably, but this too is missing the point.

We carry the burden and the consequences of the sins of our past. Be it divorce, wayward children, addictions, or that you are just a nasty person. God can forgive us, change our heart, and bring us to a place of true pennance. It still doesn't change the effect of our past actions.

If a pair of teenagers get pregnant. God can, and will, forgive them of thier sin, but the baby is still coming. In God's plans, there are not mistakes and that baby may be the greatest blessing of their life, but it was the result of their sin.

Statistically, the divorce rate in pentecostal church's is actually higher than the national average and much lower in traditional mainline (aka Catholic/Lutheren/Episcopal churches).

A couple of reasons I beleve this is true:

1) Divorce is not tolerated in 2 of the 3 mentioned above. It is not an option. To get a divorce is nearly unforgivable.

2) Pentecostal churches reach out to the unchurched. This mean that a lot of humanistic culture passes through their doors. Attitudes toward divorce take on a more worldly look.

3) Pentecostal churches actually have programs like divorce recover. They try not to pretend that divorce doesn't exist. This outreach, in some cases, seems to imply it condones it. It is similar to why I don't like that my church has a Daycare/Nursery. If we beleive that it is in the interest of our children for them to be nurtured by parents and that is the responsibility of parents to raise their children, then why do we have provide programs that allow parents to drop their children off and live a lifestyle that we openly discourage. I understand that in many cases single parents need help and dual income house may be completely necessary, but it seems like the church is sending a mixed message with a daycare.

In addition to this some of this comes down to what Mordai wrote to Esther. He said that if Esther wouldn't do what God called her to do that God would raise another. Perhaps you were put in your place for such a time as this.

Divorced or not, you Codepoke, were put in this place for such a time as this. If it is just because you identify with a segment of the body that many churches want to pretend don't exist. Perhaps you were put in this place for such a time as this.

God Bless

Milly said...


Two things
In no way do I think that a divorced person should not be considered for leadership. I do think the reasons come into play. My brother is divorced his wife had an affair. He was a part of that marriage and made mistakes. I think he’s a good leader. I don’t agree with the church he attends. It’s all good doesn’t cut it for me.

OK. Moment of seriousness on the whole "stalker" thing.

Thank you.

It is very important that we take it seriously. Here’s an upsetting thing about acquaintance & date raped most women have been or almost have been. It’s frightening to find yourself in the back seat of a car with someone you trusted as a friend, with friends around you, in a situation that might end up in rape. I was angry & bruised the next day. My friends had no clue, my fault I should have screamed for help. He was a friend who was much larger than me. A football player and a wrestler. If people hadn’t been standing outside the car I’m sure he would have raped me. My mistake was that I didn’t think he would do that to me. I wasn’t taken seriously when I asked for help from those in the car. I began to fight harder when they parked and got out. I should have screamed and made a bigger fuss. I heard he became a cop. How frightening.

It’s sad that we honestly don’t know who we can trust. I want my daughter to always be aware.

codepoke said...


Interestingly, I was asked to be an elder at my church when I was 24, and one member contended that since I was single, I was not of one wife.

Ain't that rich!

Perhaps you were put in this place for such a time as this.

I love Mordecai. That was a brother between a rock and a hard place, and he found a way to tell the truth. Thank you.

You will probably get to repeat the rest of your comments as we drill deeper into the subject. :-) All great discussion points.

codepoke said...


What an awful story. I wish it were rare.

It’s sad that we honestly don’t know who we can trust. I want my daughter to always be aware.

That is the message of The Gift of Fear. De Becker says that you were probably afraid before the situation got out of hand, but that society has trained you to ignore your God-given instinct to fear. The message of the book on this point is we have been taught to deny that anything bad is happening, and then hope we are right. Often it works. When it fails, though, it is tragic.

I would love to hear what your thoughts are about that night after reading this book.

(And the book will show you how to teach your daughter to use her fear wisely. Yes, I am pushing it hard.)

DugALug said...



Now if I could only learn to type. ;)


Milly said...

I am pushing it hard.

I swear a Jewish mother's voice in my head just went "I push because I care." I may need help, are you a little Jewish mother? Should we call more often, are you moving to a condo in Florida? I need sugar or something. Hey! It’s a nice day and I’m in a good mood. Don’t judge me!

codepoke said...

I swear a Jewish mother's voice in my head just went "I push because I care."


[PushMode = Off]

Milly said...

Never turn the push mode off, I'm an Okie mom I push because I care ya'll

Milly said...

BTW/ I wrote the name of the book down I promise to get it when I can. Honestly, thank you.

codepoke said...

Thanks, Milly.

On the Web, I try always to assume the other person is NOT kidding, unless they make it clear to me that they are.