I’ve been asked, “Why are you so negative?” But that’s just one way the question is phrased. Others say, “You just enjoy creating division!” or “You can’t leave things alone.”
The nicer folks will simply offer some positive advice: “Maybe try giving people the benefit of the doubt instead of being skeptical all the time!”
But, there’s a problem with that. I can’t just give people the benefit of the doubt or stop asking questions, unless I silence my own conscience.
There are certain issues, in the culture and the Church, that genuinely bother me. I wrestle with what’s true and how to make good choices. And that’s where my “skepticism” comes from.
These are genuine questions I have.
So, unfortunately, certain people will always assume that I’m TRYING to start arguments, just for the pleasure of upsetting people. But I’m taking the time in this introduction to explain to whoever will listen: that’s not the case, at all.
I realize I’m going to say a few things, and use a few examples, that could get some feathers ruffled. But I’m working through these issues in real life. And writing about them is part of that process.
If you’re looking for something fully fleshed-out (and “not too negative”) this is my way of warning you…
I want to know, what do you think of this statement by a pastor?
My main question is, what does church attendance REALLY have to do with a pastor’s failed marriage?
Is the lead pastor’s divorce related to baptisms at all–or was that just a random, off-handed comment that was tagged on to the equally cringe-worthy “Weekly Numbers Humble Brag” that (some) pastors do regularly?
Well, the commenters seem to see a correlation:
Ah, Roman’s 8:28. We really like that verse, don’t we?
We think it says, “No matter what my wife and I choose to do, good things will be given by God.”
I suppose this overlaps with my post last week. I asked “How do we know when GOD has ‘called’ us?” (Or, is it our own flesh which we can find ways to justify, no matter what?)
When enjoyable stuff happens, God is confirming that we’re on the right path!
But, when negative stuff happens, that just means we’re being tried/tested, and we need to stay on the same path!
In other words–no matter what happens–keep walking that path.
No need to wonder if you’re doing something wrong.
You’re God’s vessel, either way.
So, you see? The momentum of people joining the church is a sign the pastor is doing great things for the Kingdom!
AND, the fact that his wife is leaving the church (and family) is also a sign that God is doing great things for the Kingdom. Got it?
Look, I’m sorry.
I just can’t shut off my mind and go along with these comments without asking questions.
Is it actually good that people are continuing to donate, no matter what happens in their pastor’s personal life? Is there anything this particular man could have revealed about his family which WOULD (rightly) affect how many people come to be baptized and give their money?
Are we bragging about a congregation that isn’t bothered by divorce?
I keep thinking, what if Joel Osteen started bragging (factually!) that–despite all the criticism of his personal finances–there have been increases in attendance and giving at Lakewood Church. So take that, Devil!
Is that valid reasoning? Does it make sense, theologically?
Something tells me, if Joel Osteen announced tomorrow that he’s getting a divorce, then suddenly a few people would remember, “God hates divorce!” And they would add that the list of reasons he’s a slimy manipulator for turning literally every situation into a sign that God is supporting his ministry.
Imagine Joel posting this on Facebook tomorrow:
“Not every church still pledges to write MORE checks–even when the pastor announces he’s getting a divorce–but Lakewood Church did! Way to go Church! You’ve made the Devil look silly!”
At least a few people would go, “Uh, you’re nuts, Joel. Since when does a failed marriage make THE DEVIL look silly?”
“And what does your divorce really have to do with the greatness of your congregation?”
It seems to me, the only thing my example would demonstrate is that a false gospel successfully convinced thousands of Lakewood Church members to keep giving both time and money, regardless of what happens in the pastor’s personal life. (“Because the more my family falls apart, the sillier you make the Devil look by following me anyway!”)
Sorry, I’m not super jazzed about that.