Grace is costly. It may accrue to us freely, but it cost Jesus dearly. Love is costly, as is peace-making reconciliation. It is not enough to understand these things as abstractions. We must grow in grace-ness (graciousness) toward others—even those with whom we may disagree or those who may have hurt us. Jesus was wounded in the house of his friends and betrayed by one of his most intimate friends. The disciple is not above the Master. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation to, and for, the world and it is a tall order. Would it not make sense that it actually work among those who call upon Jesus as Lord, before we try to export our convictions to others?
Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
The Psychology of Transition – Part One
Leaving an institutional religious expression that you may have invested in for a long time can be emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and relationally overwhelming. We often do not understand what is happening in us, to us, and around us. For all the alleged “Biblical literacy” that Christians are supposed to possess, we can be very ill-informed and ill-equipped to function well as human beings. Understanding the processes of transition and change (in any arena: job, family, church, relationships, finances, etc.) will help us understand ourselves, and others. We can successfully and fruitfully navigate difficult seasons of change. This second session of the Church Refugee Sanity guide looks at what happens to us psychologically during a major transition: 1) stability/comfort, 2) discontinuity/awareness, 3) disembedding and more. Leaving institutional religious expressions.
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Next to death of a loved one or a divorce, fewer things are more emotionally and psychologically challenging than changing a “church” association. Often when people begin to question their church experience and consider “leaving,” they feel alone, misunderstood, accused, disoriented, and perhaps even crazy or thinking they are losing their mind. They often feel unloved and unsupported. In this first session of an eleven-part series called the Church Refugee Sanity Guide, I introduce the topic and provide a frame of reference for understanding that you are not alone.
I often get asked: “Where should I go to church?” It is the wrong question to ask. Lurking in it are likely inappropriate and unrecognized presuppositions and motives. We need to ask a “who” question, not a what and where question. The correct answer to that question will be found in understanding God-assigned relationships. Relational reality in God-assignments is where you will find your “church,” no other way.
I have been a Charismatic believer immersed in charismatic church culture beliefs, value systems, leadership modalities, and worship expressions for forty years. For thirty-five of those years I was a worship leader and “pastor” in a variety of charismatic constructs. Our train has jumped the track, there are fatalities all around, and prominent charismatic leaders seem to want to keep tooting the whistle and playing engineer. The carnage must stop.
I am often asked: When is it appropriate to challenge or confront my church leadership? There is a full spectrum of opinions about the definition and expression of leadership in the church. There is also a broad spectrum of opinion on if, when, and how to confront church leadership. Jesus is our example in this matter, whether we like His example or not. Take my little “Leadership Legitimacy” survey and discover what Jesus would have you do.
The expression of pastoral ministry in the church can tend to aggregate at extremes in the Body of Christ. On the one hand you can have pastors who are oppressed by domineering and controlling board members and elders, whose mission in life seems to be to be to break pastors down and keep them in poverty. On the other hand, you can have pastors who think themselves as demi-gods at the top of a pyramid hierarchy who think people are little more than resources given by God to them to fulfill carnal ambition rooted in insecurity and thinly veiled as “corporate vision.” In Part One here, by my friend, Nick Vasiliades, explains why fundamental values and ideas in most western churches of how pastors are expected to function are the underlying reasons for so many misconceptions and malpractice of one of the necessary, precious, and legitimate gifts of the resurrected and ascended Lord to His church. Is it possible to be a supernaturally gifted “carer of souls” and avoid reactionary expressions? Yes, but not as long as we cling to biblically baseless definitions, values, and expressions of pastoral ministry.