If we read this post carefully, "What Should I Do If I Disagree With Something My Pastor Said?"
, we can see that, right from the start, questioning a pastor is a problem to be dealt with rather than a normal dialogical process. A few major elements need to be in place to make this kind of prescription work:
- First of all, one of the key words appears in the fifth point: "leadership". This, I argue, is one of the major problems with the church. I've written a book on it, called "Without A Vision My People Prosper", in which I claim that visionary thinking is the death of community and the church. Visionary thinking requires visionary leaders. And for there to be leaders the church has to be going somewhere. Rather than being a community, it has become another business with goals to be met. If you don't subscribe to its goals, then you can't belong. This necessarily demands a homogenous collective, rather than a diverse community that I believe Jesus talked about. If the vision isn't universal enough to include all, then it destroys true community.
- We are also informed that the questioner is the problematic party. Here are all the implications ascribed to the one questioning the pastor's teaching: you are to pray for humility and understanding; you must ask someone else who agrees with the pastor; you are the one who has to be open; you probably misunderstood; your thinking likely needs to be adjusted; you are in a unique and rare position of questioning and being concerned; you must be gentle; you must ask humbly; you have to patiently hear; hopefully not, but you may find you still disagree; humbly accept what you're told; keep it to yourself; be cheerful; continue to submit; profit from his teaching; contentedly submit; leave quietly; lovingly find another church; etcetera. To me it sounds like a threatening scenario, like a lowly serf appealing to the King in fear and trepidation with the great possibility that the King will subdue you, be angered and lop off your head or banish you from his Kingdom. Basically, the questioner is to doubt her own questions, find someone else to talk to that agrees with the pastor, be nice during the whole process, constantly humble, and if no agreement can be found, to leave quietly. Do not disturb the calm waters of acquiesced agreement!
- The words and phrases ascribed to the pastor, however, lean heavily toward the fact that the pastor is right and just needs to explain himself again to the questioner. Actually, there is never any suggestion that the pastor might be wrong or even willing to adjust what he said. (I say "he" because the article assumes the pastor is a "he".)There is no hint of dialog or of the pastor changing at all. The pastor leads and teaches and it is to be received wholesale and the questioner agrees or leaves. It is incumbent upon the questioner to fix a problem that she has created by disagreeing with the pastor. The pastor, it is assumed, will not change. Either the questioner comes aboard or disembarks.
We can see how problematic this is for community. In fact it isn't community at all. There is nothing shared, which "co-" implies in the word community. It is a top down ideological process where there is no recourse but to wholeheartedly agree or quietly leave. There's no discussion unless it's to persuade you to agree.
But here is the ramifications that we are seeing today: the questioner, who is advised to lovingly find another church, is thereby launched into a life-long pursuit of seeking a church where she must agree with everything that is taught. Which is, for a questioner, impossible! The question, rather than accepted as the natural lifeblood of intelligence, is treated as a dilemma. This, in part, explains why the world outside the church is filling up with people full of unanswered questions without a venue in which to discuss them.
I see a new kind of community in which the members have questions and those who have the answers will be the problem.
The Lasting Supper