Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Schedule

We had a 2-1/2 hour special town hall meeting at church this afternoon (5/20) about a painful controversy that's been festering under the skin of our church for at least 14 years in its current incarnation. I've been a member of this church for 7 years and only realized that this issue was serious, more than a humorous mild irritant, about a year ago. Now, even church visitors can tell it's a mess.

Here are some of my reflections after the meeting:

Money talks and people listen. Except that that's not the way the reformed church is supposed to work. "Several families" have withdrawn their financial pledges, and the church needs donations to continue its good work. But the church shouldn't be easily bullied, either. Gifts to God shouldn't come with strings attached.

One woman got up to speak and toxic waste spewed out of her mouth. Her diatribe was full of innuendo, veiled threat, and vague criticism.

"Lots of people" are really unhappy about this.
"I thought we were hiring" a minister who would do what we wanted.
"I never thought my family would consider leaving, but - "
We're in the middle of a capital campaign. "This is the worst time" to piss people off.

At one point, she suggested that we just "buy another minister," and my shocked gasp/gulp/choke was clearly audible throughout the sanctuary. Others started murmuring and looking uncomfortable. She looked around and clearly didn't understand what she said wrong (ditto with all her previous threats to withhold money pledged to the completion of our new building). Finally she realized what people were reacting to - or someone explained it to her - and said, "Oh, hire, call, whatever. Get a new guy in here."

"Being heard" means the same thing as "getting exactly what I want," apparently.

Compromise is unacceptable. So is taking time to deliberate and do the process right; the session just needs to do what these people want, immediately.

Fortunately, our new minister didn't back down. And he said that he'd rather hold 4 more capital campaigns to pay off the new building than accept one dollar with those sorts of strings attached. Score one for the new guy.

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