Learning Redemption…

April 17, 2012

During my time in the wilderness I have come to reevaluate much of the theology that I grew up learning. I came to this reevaluation slowly as my husband and I tried to use our previous knowledge to create a healthy ministry environment.

Let’s just say we got really great at failing at creating a healthy ministry environment. I would go as far to say that we learned how to cultivate the discipline of failing.

Our first year in the wilderness was a disaster from the start. The reality is that the previous pastor who had spent nine months living within this community had been asked to resign for different reasons. His response was no, so the church had to take his resignation to the congregation. This previous pastor figured he could win over the congregation , however, he did not. He was fired on that Sunday and shortly after “planted” a new church within town. Now, our town has 3500 people living within the city limits, and our church actually split from the first Christian church within town thirty years before. So, we now have three Restoration Movement churches within a rural town, along with the Catholics, the baptists, and the charismatic church that meets in a store front on our main street.

Being naive, young, and optimistic we figured this church split would have very little impact on our ministry experience.

Like I said, our first year of ministry was a disaster. We were not prepared for this kind of ministry experience. Not only were we walking into a very messy situation, we were also newly married, which was a strike against us. We did not know each other, and so our efforts to try and invest in anyone else was very difficult.

All this said, after our first year, we were ready to get out of ministry. We had tried everything we had learned in school and within our prior experience and nothing seemed to be working. We were drowning.

I was dealing with trying to support my husband, while trying to figure out where the Hell God had stuck us. I was also going through my own personal crisis, as I had just graduated Bible college with a preaching degree and we were involved with a community that did not, and does not support women in leadership or in the pulpit. I did finally find a full time job, but I was miserable. I gained thirty pounds and would come home from work and crawl into bed everyday.

So, we did what any normal depressed and frustrated married couple should do, we went on vacation! We flew to Colorado Springs and stayed with one of Waylon’s relatives and spent some well earned time together.

My experience within this wilderness had led me to some questions that I have never gotten answers to.I sat for a year and half and watched this previous pastor help divide this small community. Where was the church discipline? Where was the church magistrate to stop this man from creating such chaos? I mean this guy graduated with his Masters from my Alma mater…shouldn’t someone have found out about this situation and taken away his ordination certificate?

I also had questions for the church we were at like; why are we electing elders who can’t/won’t read the Bible? What is the real point of communion? Why was I, a 23-24 year old leading a group of women who were all in their fifties and up and should be teaching and leading me within the faith? What was the point of church if the members did not participate in any kind of discipleship?

As I have to had to wrestle with these questions and these issues, I have come to reevaluate my view of God and his role within the local church. At first I resented Him, and wanted to know why He would move us to such a challenging and heart wrenching place. My anger turned into sadness, which in turn led me to a deeper understanding of His character and His love.

I don’t think God had much to do with the sin that had gone before we entered into the wilderness. However, He was in the interest of redeeming the damage, as well as redeeming the sin within my life. Which is one of the main reasons we are still invested in this wilderness. We are not here to “do” ministry, but to partner with God in his redeeming work. If we are going to do this kind of work, we should never have expected it to be easy, let alone clean. While I still have many questions that have gone unanswered, I do know that redemption is taking place, even if it is only taking place among a small group of people.

 

 

 

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