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baring it

In 1992 I led my congregation, where I was the Sr. Pastor, into a church-split.  It was the darkest days I’ve ever experienced in ministry and my personal life.  When I am gut honest with others, and myself, as I continue to process 18 years later, my side was totally consumed with having what “we” wanted on Sunday mornings.  Naturally, the other side was consumed with what they wanted.  It ended up being a religious power struggle that engulfed us in the very bowels of hell itself.

At the time I felt very misunderstood, judged and obligated to the Lord to facilitate the division.  I was very wrong.   My leadership in that debacle was about the most loveless thing I have ever participated with.  That split released such a destructive seed, that the entire community took a side.  That small congregation has had numerous splits since that time.  They’ve never really recovered.  It was so wrong.  I was wrong.

I awoke this morning at 3:15am in a drenched bed-sweat from a dream.  The message was simple and to the point:  It is missing the mark to make our Sunday morning gatherings the main event or our  primary witness  of Christian experience.   The Body of Christ has too much focus on Sunday church.  “I am chief among sinners!” There are 168 hours in a week and we are too easily consumed with what happens in 2 of those 168 hours.  Discipleship, love and character are on call constantly!  Our anointing and our gifts are needed every day, in every aspect of life.   If my or your value to the Kingdom is about Sunday mornings, we are hosed.   If you are prophetic, do you prophecy all week or are you waiting on the microphone?  If you have a teaching gift, do you use it outside of the church building?  Is your giving gift, only exercised toward the offering plate?  God help us!  Most of what stresses us about “church” and “ministry” are the non-essentials.  Kingdom people who live in covenant do not sweat the small stuff.  When we are willing to believe that, we’ll have a chance to really look like Him.

-MDP-

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kayla
    August 18, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Mike this is so good! Packed full of brutal truth, honesty, & the challenge to be who we are outside of the confines of church. Thank you for continuing to be vulnerable & real before us, it speaks loudly & stirs stuff up in us to follow suit. Love ya!

  2. Ashley Musick
    August 18, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Love it Mike. Thanks for being so raw. I love that you are willing to admit some mistakes so that the rest of us will better know how to see His Kingdom truly come. Love you!

  3. Jen
    August 18, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Truth.

  4. Sean
    August 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for sharing! Grateful for your heart and perspective! WE NEED IT!!

  5. marisol doyle
    August 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

    It sounds so right! Yet, I wonder why I also heard a small voice challenging me to go as a living sacrifice to be with my husband, to be there for others who may like me need acceptance, encouragement, and the support of a body.

    The truth is that I don’t have the support of the body. Rarely I had been fortunate to be part of genuine people, but what a heavenly mark of those few. I want to be part of those few to others…and keep the hope that may be when I need them, they will be there. In the past it didn’t happened, I then reacted with wrong bitter roots, and now I want to start all over. THis is the part that makes me have trouble with what you are sharing that with all my soul makes sense and I’m with you. Yet, deep down I need the body and what better place than the church on Sundays to find that gift.

    ? I realize the people in the WR have one another, and I’ve been fortunate to taste some of that through you and Patty and the visitors my daughter has had, but what happens with the command to keep the Sabath Holy? Yet, i believe church & the call to love and Christ like Character…is everyday, 24-7, and even praying and fixing my eyes on JEsus…busyness, hurts, fouls,

  6. Kris Johnson
    August 18, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Mike,

    How were you wrong in your decision to split? Were you wrong because you acted out of pride? Were you wrong because you wanted what was most important to you?

    I don’t know anything about the split at your church, though you have talked briefly about it with me, but I wonder why you have come to this judgment of yourself?

    Is it possible that you were right, but the outcome was not what you intended? A church that has split that many times, clearly has issues deeper than whatever you were dealing with. So, my gut tells me you probably did the right thing. The fact that they are still dealing with this spiraling seperation of ideas leads me to believe that the people in that congregation, are in it for themselves, or whatever in that church gives them life. It’s not God giving life, it’s something else that they are clinging to.

    Obviously, I don’t know the details, and your judgment is better than mine. However, in my observation, many kingdom people Do sweat the small stuff, because the small stuff is where you have to start, and you build from there. Granted, predestination arguments are not something I am interested in, but the proper way to pray is something I would like to know with some certainty. I guess my question to you is: What are the small stuff issues that I shouldn’t sweat about?

    It’s always amazed me how millions of people can profess to believe the same thing and study the teachings of the same man, yet come away with conclusions varying on all extremes of the biblical spectrums. Even if the extreme teachings of some are only propogated by a small few, they infect the hearts of many. For a God who never changes, we sure do seem to change the way we percieve him from one group to another, from one generation to another. The God /human relationship has changed dramatically from the time just after Christ, and because of this, the small stuff (to me) seems pretty important. I’m not advocating a purge of any sort, to get to the “true christians”. I just wish there was at least a consensus on what God actually asks of us.

    I think the biggest problem with Christianity today is its ambiguity. People have no hard line to go on, and all teaching is apparently subjective to your place, time, and attitude. In my experience, not sweating the small stuff has lead to not sweating anything that isn’t convenient, or doesn’t fit the image of the God we make up in our heads.

    I, as a modern day christian, feel undirected. I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what God truly thinks on any number of issues. I hear people talk about God, and they seem to me to be speaking more from emotional experiences than they are about spiritual truth, or revelation (I’m not talking about my head pastor, I hope thats obvious to at least you).

    I’m not eve saying your wrong at all. In fact, I agree that people get caught up on legalism, and have even worse problems then what I have described. But God is barely taught at all anymore. Churches today seem to teach more of a “self-help” seminar, than they do about spiritual realities, or Gods Nature. At my church, we have a mentorship program where mentors are asked not to pray with the metoree. That makes no sense to me. Why would any church discourage prayer? It feels like Christianity is trying to morph from a belief and love of Jesus, to a club of people who all just want everyone to get along. But Conflict in the world isn’t going away until God says so. I’m not saying the effort is bad, but I do think it’s bad to try and ignore him

    God, to me, has been transformed into the good natured Grandparent, who loves his children and is always smiling at their little adventures. CS Lewis talks about that in Mere Christianity, and it is what I see. Everything is about being “nice”, being agreeable, and accepting. But from what I can tell about God, he is none of those things. He has never ending forgiveness, but he still abhores sin, and our sin (past or present) is always present to a God who lives outside the bouds of time and space. In In this way, I sweat the small stuff.

    I would like to hear more spiritual truths about the reality of God and how he influences us, but what I hear in church sometimes sounds more like an AA meeting. We should always be tolerant and act in Love, but that doesn’t mean we should be accepting of all behaviors and all teachings of who and what God is. Especially if it is God who is being slandered. Just my thoughts

  7. August 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for your openness and your challenge, Mike! This is so good.

  8. mogservant
    August 19, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Right on, Mike. Thank you!

  9. August 19, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Thank you for being a consistant work in progress example to so many of us on what it looks like to practice discipleship, love, and good character! You and Ms Patti are amazing examples to myself and so many others!

    • May 13, 2011 at 5:44 am

      You’ve hit the ball out the park! Incredible!

  10. Jody Ridlehoover
    August 21, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Hey Mike,

    I’m not here to say “don’t beat yourself up” over the interesting times of 1992. That’s God’s job! I agree that we probably could have handled things better and that there was too much emphasis on the 2 hours on Sunday. But – just a thought – if we had really surrendered to and focused on His Kingdom stuff in the other 166 hours, the church would probably have split anyway. Talk about a power struggle!

    And for the record, those events sent some of us on a journey that, looking back today, I am thankful for. Yes, it was messy and difficult. But God is sovereign, and He used those years to bring freedom and power to many of us. I can see it in my kids. Generations were changed.

    Love you man.

  11. Jen Ridlehoover
    August 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Just want to agree with my hubby. Yeah, that was kind of a screwed up mess. But, I am comforted by the One who took that mess and changed a lot of lives. . . in a way that lead us to NOT look at Sunday mornings as the end all of Christian life. I have so many areas I can point to in my life and think, “Well, that sure could have gone better,” but oh how merciful God is to me!! Part of that mercy happened in 1992, when he showed Jody and me that we could live for Him in a way we never imagined, and that we could pass a legacy on to our children that I never thought possible. I am still awestruck quite often when I see how God has broken ties that have bound our families for so long, so that our children walk in freedom. I wish you could see them; I really think it would add just a little to the perspective of the year 1992. As I watched my son, along with youth from several area churches, lead a joint worship service last night with amazing passion and abandon, and as I heard pastors prophesy over their lives, I will forever be grateful that God called us out.

    Sure, we can still unfortunately see in that town reminders of past struggles. But, it wasn’t that group of people responsible for the enemy’s plan of attack or stronghold in that place. I am grateful God led Jody and me back there, grateful for the friendship of you and Patti, and grateful for the passion that was birthed in you that, in spite of things done imperfectly, played a part in the journey of freedom for my family.

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