Denominational Critique: Rebellion or Renewal

Posted on September 27, 2006 by travjohnson
In some comments on a previous post, regarding denominational missionality and critique, Sean ONeal, State YCE Director for California/Nevada made some excellent observations and challenges. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Sean. Not only is he articulate as he serves in denominational leadership, he is also engaging discussion with me here in this venue in a totally unguarded fashion. For that, I take my hat off to Sean. He said:
As we follow Christ we embrace the value of making room – we honor
our fathers – we honor. We bless and not curse. It is easy for people
to criticize the church, the denomination, other people, whatever –
whoever – what is challenging is to accept the fact that perhaps at
times we grieve God with our attitude or the ways we live out our
attitude. This doesnt mean that every person in an organization is right about
soemthing all the time or any time, or sometimes makes errors
un-intentionally or intentionally.
For me personally – I realized that God has called me to be salt and
light and not a church prosecutor standing before the bench of the
judge making the case against the church / denomination /
orgainization. The fact is – whether a church is sold, pastor placed or
not placed, decisions made – that there are always many sides to a
situation / circumstance and until a person has all of the facts then
any and all analysis is skewed – one sided.
Behold, I am going to send you And he will restore the hearts of
the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their
fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse Malachi 4:6
Sean touches on an area of struggle for me. First, get around my family and you will see that we are firey people. I get it from the Johnsons and the McCoys. By nature, I am given to that fire in the belly approach to life. But, I also see things within the denomination that I feel are significant events that shape our ability to function appropriately in our Mission.
From Seans perspective, it would seem that it is wrong to negatively critique our corporate church structure. Functioning in a highly centralized structure, there is a vacuum of publicly owned antithetical conversation from what is considered to be the bottom on up. On the occasion that it does take place, words like renegade, rebel, and rogue are employed.
As we work toward a missional denomination, when is negative critique permissible The General Assembly (of which I am a part) mandated that Open Forums were to be conducted across the country leading up to this past General Assembly. When people spoke directly to issues and expressed disatisfaction with the current financial structure, I actually heard a person make what I consider to be a threat against the profession of a minister with that minister who spoke negatively absent. I personally find that offensive and counter-productive to mission.
I also ask in an environment where state office mandated property insurance premiums are skyrocketing and Florida pastors are living without health insurance or compensation and are having to close ministries so that on top of that a denominational tax can be collected and summarily wasted, are they being rebellious Are their hearts, the hearts of true sons and daughters turned against the heart of fathers (interpretted by Sean to be denominational leadership)
I think not. In fact, I feel that our system has the potential to totally squelch opposing views from godly men who have no rebellion resident in their hearts.
Is it appropriate to critique non-core, non-essential positions created to keep administrators employed in Cleveland Is it appropriate to mention the fact that roughly 6-7 of our present State YCE Directors are sons of corporate administrators Is it appropriate to question why we allow our corporate receipts to double every 7 years while we close more churches than we open Is it appropriate to point out abuses of authority as were glaringly obvious as in the case of the West Miami COG Is it appropriate to ask why it seems as if a significant number of our administrators are above pastoring Is it appropriate to ask if our denomination needs such a disproportionately large bureaucracy
Not only do I say yes, I feel it is incumbent on us all to have the courage to do so. Now, I have failed multiple times in my presentation of disagreement. I dont want that to be the standard for my life. I want to honor those over me in the Lord. I want to honor Christ. In my passion to honor the Great Commission, I have said things in haste, without thinking them through fully. My words and intent were right. But, my presentation was coarse and unrefined resulting in hurt.
That is not my intention. I receive from Seans challenge and will do my best to be better at honoring the fathers in the church. I also want to be true to the calling and purpose of the Church so that we will have proportionaely increasing numnbers of sons and daughters in the next generations of the denomination. I want to be able to strike a godly balance of clash and kindness. No matter what is said in regard to those practices that detract from our missionality, there will be misunderstanding. But, as I live out my calling, I want to do so with a clear conscience and a pure heart. Thank you Sean for excellent and challenging words. I hope I can be as receptive to your critique as I expect others to be of mine.
tagged: church of god – Sean ONeil – missional denomination
by travis johnson
Filed under: church of god, missional church | 5 Comments »

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