An Open Letter to a church I love. (Is there room for me?)

New-LogoTo the leaders of our Nazarene tribe,

It’s been a tough few months for us, hasn’t it? We’ve been through a lot together.

We’ve read about our family in the pages of newspapersmore than once. We’ve felt the effects of strong disagreement, feelings of betrayal, and the need for apologies from others and from myself. We’ve accused, we’ve repented, and done all within our power to be reconciled once more.

These stories, however, are beginning to pile up: NPH, MNU (Randy Beckum), NNU (Tom Oord).

If I’m being honest, as an ordained pastor, I really don’t know where to go from here.  I’m really, truly at a loss for words.

I think it goes without saying, that many issues like the ones we’ve recently faced require a great deal of discretion. I also know that leaders in high positions are forced to make decisions which are unpopular, but are done in the best interest of the group they lead. These same leaders are then forced to weather the storm of outrage and calls for transparency in silence; knowing they will do more harm than good in their justification.

I get this. I really, truly do.

However, I ask that you see this from our side. 

In the past year, two of the most respected leaders and theological thinkers in our denomination have lost their positions. These men both happen to be progressive in their practice and theology.

Randy and Tom are two men I deeply respect, and these are two men who have shaped my own theology, and who had a hand in saving my own faith. I respect them deeply; not because I always agreed with them, but because they were leaders unafraid of asking the difficult questions.

But they are now silenced.

What was the reason for their demotion and/or removal? We don’t know. Nobody will tell us.

Their departures/demotions are filled with confusing and contradictory evidence.

Now, again, I admit I know very little of these situations. I know little of the background to these removals. While I’m not privy to this information, as an ordained elder in our tradition, I do believe I have a right to say this:

There is a point when perceptions begin to convey a cultural reality.

This unveiling reality is that difficult questions are unwelcome, and hard conversations are not allowed to be had.

For me, the only thing the Nazarene church has done in the past 6 months is plant a question firmly in my mind: “Is there room in the Nazarene church for me?”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this Denomination more than anything. My children are the 5th generation of Palmer’s who have darkened the doorways of a Nazarene church. The history of this church is in many ways the history of my own family heritage.

I will never leave her. We are forever tied to one another.

Recent events, however, have begun to make me ask, “while I’ll never voluntarily leave the Nazarene church, will she push me away? Will she walk away from me?”

Because the questions asked by Randy Beckum, and the questions asked by Tom Oord, are the same questions I, myself, am asking, and these recent events have placed me on very unsteady footing.

It was once said,

“I often hear people in churches across America asking, “Where are our young people going?” I can’t help but believe they are leaving our sanctuaries of certainty in search of spaces where their doubts are welcomed and where there is room to wrestle with faith’s uncomfortable questions. If the church wants to find the next generation returning to the fold, they must accept all that comes with them. Doubts, fears, questions and all.”

This brings me to the thrust of this post:

To those in leadership positions in the Nazarene church, while I admit the truth behind the removal of Tom Oord and Randy Beckum might not be theologically based, the message you’re sending about them very much is, and it’s a message we millennials are receiving loud and clear.

“Get in line. Don’t ask questions, and all will be okay.”

So I want…no I need to ask a question as a friend, colleague and person who deeply wants our tradition to live on: “Is there room for us?”

Because, if I’m being honest, right now I am struggling to believe there is.

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87 thoughts on “An Open Letter to a church I love. (Is there room for me?)

  1. Michael, just be assured that there is wonderful fellowship and the embrace of grace beyond the walls of the Church of the Nazarene. I read your words and they reflect where I was as a Nazarene PK and Olivet and NTS grad not so many years ago. The questions were not so different then, just the stakes are higher. May you find wisdom and grace as you walk forward in faith. – John Franklin Hay, D.Min.

  2. I literally got chills as I read the end. As a 23 year old, almost at the end of my first year of a MA degree at NNU (I had the privilege of having Oord a few weeks ago), this is a question I was already asking. Is there room for me? My husband did not grow up in the church, and we currently are on a two year contract with an Episcopal Church. He is not sure there is room for him in the CotN either. We are seeking whether we are called to stay and fight in the denomination that raised me, or leave for something that is seemingly better. It’s not easy… Thank you for your words as we all try to figure this out in the days ahead.

    • Angela, you are certainly not alone. I am glad you and your husband are wrestling with these questions with me, but hope you’re able to find yourself able to stay in the Naz church! We NEED people like you who are willing to voice their questions/fears/disagreements, and if there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that there are for more you and than not. We just need to find our common voice!

    • An important thing to bear in mind is that all churches have issues. I grew up non-denominational house-church with a strong Holiness background. (Actually my family thought of Nazarenes as wishy-washy, worldly compromisers. . . . ) I would up becoming Episcopalian (though I almost became Catholic instead–long story), and there is so much I appreciate about the Episcopal Church. But I never really feel that its issues are mine. I can deal with being in a congregation of people who so often seem to me to take their basic approach to the world from the common culture of educated liberal Westerners. But since that isn’t my heritage, why are those the particular issues I should be wrestling with? At this point I see little reason to go back to one of the Holiness churches, but I am seriously considering both a final move “all the way” to Rome and a move “back” as far as the UMC. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for just not moving at all. . . . .

  3. I am not a millennial, I am a 3rd generational Naz who sent 3 kids to Naz Colleges. What you have described are the corporate tactics we see in our business world. I had hoped and prayed for more transparency. We did not and as informed by one of our Naz professors. We will not. Here is my plea to young men and women like yourself and even the “established” (Old Guys) like myself. Work where you are planted. Do everything you can to create the environment that God has pointed you towards. All systems are broken. Some may flow better, but all are broken. We are ready for change. I am not alone. So many of us that are generational Naz are bored with the “Fear” based tactics. We want fresh leadership that is “Spirit/Love ” based. Don’t give up. Press forward! You wouldn’t have written this letter if wanted to quit. It took guts. It took courage. God Bless you, John!
    Wayne McKamie

    • I love that you commented on this, Wayne. You know, better than most, how important a healthy environment is to fostering openness and growth. How do we, as millennials, hold our elders accountable while modeling the process of fostering an open and loving environment?

      • First off, Michael, thanks for your courage to share your heart with us in your post. The Spirit comes out of your words and speaks with truth and love in His name! I too am an ordained elder in the cotN and have found in times past where tough questions, needed questions, were asked and leadership declined to engage in the conversation. The questions are not just mine, they are from those in whom God has called us to care for. Therefore, because they are precious and important to Christ, they are important to us as well, which requires us to shepherd our flocks accordingly. So, I will continue to listen, seek the Lord’s guidance, and shepherd the flock the best way I know how and that is to be among the people without fear.

        I like Indycross’ statement regarding accountability. Accountability is crucial, we speak about it from our platforms, we are encouraged from the leadership to be accountable, and sadly when accountability is actually done most of the time it is hushed and asked to leave. I asked some of our folks recently what accountability is to them and their response was “to ensure/remind those who ask us to hold them accountable, of what they have stated needs to be done, will be done, or are working on is never pushed to the closet. We are to remind them when they are wavering as well as when they are doing fantastic.” I agree with them and am reminded of a professor I had once at NBC. I received a marked up paper and was furious with myself, as I thought I had done horrible on the paper. However, their response was “the areas in red are the areas where I liked what you said and am encouraging you to share it even louder, clearer, or more powerfully than you already have.” So, in the correction I was held accountable through critique and encouragement.

        May we always be willing to sharpen each others iron, as it is done best when in the presence of each other, not silenced for fear of being exposed.

        Thanks for being partnered in ministry together,
        Blessings,
        Steven Guizar

  4. In the business world, if an employer begins deviating from the mission and/or message of the company, he/she should not be surprised when they are relieved of their position. When a church leader begins deviating from core doctrine and beliefs, would it not be better for him/her to go where there are like-minded individuals? If I can’t support a denomination, why would I not simply go where there are like-minded believers instead of trying to change the denomination?

    • Unfortunately Sharon, the sentiment you just shared is what caused me, a fourth generation Nazarene, who also attended one of our fine colleges, to finally and sadly take my wife and children to another church. Not in search of the “like minded” to tickle my ears but because I no longer believed we were welcomed if we didn’t tow the line and keep our mouths shut. We don’t need the Nazarene church to mimic an arrogant, worldly corporate atmosphere where questions regarding the denominational direction are met with resistance. Can anyone support this trend with accurate references from scripture? It’s not lack of support FOR the denomination, but rather lack of support FROM the denomination which leaves a bad taste and causes many to find fellowship elsewhere. CoTN was my home. I pray for repentance wherever it is needed.

    • I agree with Sharon. We had to leave a church we loved because the new pastor was preaching a “new” doctrine and after 5 years, he had not changed my mind, so we changed churches to one with our core believes. We are much happier now. Why should we feel frustrated week after week when we can leave church feeling encouraged and uplifted?

  5. Thank you for asking this question. I too am asking the same question. My family’s roots run deep in the CoTN, my Grandma was baptized by Uncle Buddy Robinson. I am married to a pastor who has served the church for 33 years (and his dad for 50), and we have had many wonderful experiences throughout our journey in pastoral ministry. Our lives were turned upside down a few years ago when my husband’s ministry was underhandedly attacked by a few disgruntled board members, in much the same way that has happened with my relative, Tom Oord. In the end, we had no choice but to resign. Much of the community was upset and confused by our resignation. It was the most painful, saddest season of our lives. The moral of the story is: Jesus is completely faithful and loving, and in the Kingdom there is always a place for us! I’m sad when people are so AFRAID (most of these conflicts can be traced back to FEAR) of thinking outside of their boxes that they resort to bullying and using their resources as a weapon. We have a dysfunctional system that allows the bullying to continue, on and on, at every level. We encounter pastors ALL the time who have been bullied and mistreated, all while just trying to serve their churches to the best of their ability. I have some ideas for solutions on how to fix this on a local church level which involve accountability for the leaders relating to their spiritual journey. As a couple, our vision is to promote vibrant Christian community, and we will do this every chance we get, God helping us, in our out of the CoTN, by doing what Tom Oord says he will do, “live a life of love”. May God help us all, to march forward unafraid, in His Kingdom for His glory.

    • “Jesus is completely faithful and loving, and in the Kingdom there is always a place for us!”

      Yes, Yes, a hundred times Yes!!

      Thank you so much for your participation on this post. Thanks for sharing your story, and the courage you and your husband offer to so many. May Christ’s peace be upon your family.

  6. Michael, your wife and the Messamers used to go to our church in Marengo. My dad was senior pastor there in the mid to late 90’s. The church has not evolved with time and has pushed out people like Dr. Colling at Olivet for teaching that evolution is a theory of science. The scandal at NPH is a disaster and I wouldn’t be surprised of Dr. Bowling and a sitting General Superintendent are indicted by the federal prosecutor.

    • Brendan, you have once again proved how small the nazarene world really is. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. My prayer (as I know yours is, as well), is the church can find it’s way forward and become a tribe dedicated to the teachings of Christ.

  7. I have left the church I was raised in (United Methodist) because of poor handling of many things at the local level. Have moved to a denomination with a similar theology that gets me and my x-er and millennial generation, at least locally (moravian). It is nothing less than awesome being renewed in a local church. Look around. There is a place for you somewhere!!

  8. Good post. To support what Wayne was saying, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your feelings are age-related. There is a large number of people of all ages thinking this way.

    • Bruce, your opinion holds a great amount of weight with me, and it really means a lot that you would take the time to write. You speak something very true; this isn’t a generational problem. It’s bigger than that. I sometimes find myself writing out of my own context, and in this, I leave others out. I need this reminder. Thanks for challenging me.

  9. Jeremy and I are also asking this question as theologically trained lay people. If things do not change, there will be many, many vital and downright good people who leave the CotN (some already have!) – possibly us included. This is and would continue to be seriously tragic. Thank you, Michael.

    • Lisa, I certainly understand the struggle- we talk often about such things. I just pray enough (including you and Jeremy) people are willing to wade through this together. Your friendship means so much to E and I. Thanks for being a safe community for us!

  10. I was a Nazarene pastor for ten years. I am now serving in the United Methodist Church. I am glad that I made the move to the UMC. For ten years, I was only offered the churches that no one else wanted. I was constantly lied to by unethical district superintendents. Was in a pension system that was basically promised a worthless retirement. Was in a system where your success was based on whether you paid your budgets. Don’t dare advocate a place for gay people or you would be out the door. My kids were denied matching scholarships to Mid-America because their dad’s church didn’t pay their education budget in full the previous year. And I won’t even start talking about age discrimination. I personally knew DS’s who would not even accept a resume’ from a pastor over the age of 40. And think about being over 50. Scandals at the Nazarene colleges that would outdo any public university.
    Now, the COTN is mired in scandals where secrecy is the name of the game. Sort of Nixonian….Watergate…. General Superintendents who are under investigation, and could be indicted. A publishing house scandal, professors fired under cover of darkness. Colleges who undergo building projects with no-bid contracts to the good old Nazarene contractors. But I’m not surprised. The entire time I was in the Nazarene Church, it was mired in secrecy and “good ole’ boys club” mentality. Your success depended on who’s backside you kissed. Preachers who couldn’t preach to a fencepost were given cushy large churches. Shall I mention when my son was at one of the Nazarene universities, that a senior boy got a girl pregnant. Guess who got kicked out of school? You got it, the girl. The boy, whose parents were big name Nazarenes was allowed to stay in school and graduate.
    So what did I get for leaving? I got a guaranteed appointment every year, a fabulous pension program that is ten times more than what I had, and the opportunity to pastor sizable churches. But I got into a denomination where people, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation have a place at the table. I have several colleges who are ex-Nazarenes. And I will tell you that none of them would ever to back to what they had in the COTN.
    I see more holiness in the United Methodist Church than I ever did in the Nazarene denomination. .

    • Jeff, I’m so sorry for your painful experience in the church. I’m sorry that those in authority (and thus, those who should have defended you) let you down. Mostly, I’m happy to hear you’ve found a place you are thriving in. May God continue to use you to bring about his Kingdom.

    • What a great encouraging read Jeff. I graduated from Olivet in 1964, seminary in 1967, pAstoria Nazarene churches for 14 years. Made a career change in 1982, am now a retired insurance agent. For 12 years we have been members of a Christ centered Presbyterian Church, have experienced the exact kind of hospitality to all you have described. Our mission is “knowing Christ, making him known,” and I can barely wait to get back to church next Sunday!

  11. Jennifer, when I was bullied by the powers-to-be in my church, I got no support from my district superintendent. ZERO. I remember when I was going through a hard time in one of my churches, my DS took me to a bookstore and bought me a book and told me to read it.
    What I hear from my colleagues, no support from the superintendents was commonplace.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Jeff…lack of support is part of the broken system many pastors experience. If you do find yourself or a colleague needing someone to help and encourage, I know my husband would be happy to listen. We are trained coaches and we will help any pastors (and their spouses) who need us. Thankfully, we were really helped in our crisis by a couple of godly, loving coaches who helped us find hope and move forward. aj@lakecitylifecoaching.com

  12. not sure how I received this post…but love the post and the responses……was raised also in the COTN….received / accepted Christ as Lord and savior at age of 7 …..will never forget that day…now 51 years later..still saved ( lol ) …..COTN is really weak in my town..( judgemental ) ….have served in several churches in my lifetime….in states and towns that the COTN were really strong…..praying for this denomination ……and all Churches ..regardless of the tag on the door….” Christian ” is what were should be…..let God do the changing…people and leaders of churches and doctrines….seem to condemn ..they all ..stop at John 3:16………John 3:17 ..should be the motto……Holiness unto the Lord….not Holier than thou……had some great teachers and preachers..and church camps…not sure if I could ever return…had two really bad experiences trying to serve God ….but man …messed it up…..still serving at a new non-denominational style church ( not my mothers church ) but it appears that the present COTN is not my mother’s church either…..Rick in Kentucky

  13. Michael- Thank you so much for putting into writing what many are wrestling with. Some have already commented on the actions of a faith based entity as compared to what would take place – and is somewhat expected in- the corporate world. The recent events have been so mishandled under the guise of Christianity and are so disheartening that I am left incredibly dismayed at the lack of integrity, compassion, honesty, trust ,respect and transparency. As an HR professional – I am astounded at how employee rights have been violated within the walls of the university, as an MNU alum, third generation Nazarene, daughter of a Nazarene minister, mother of students and graduates of MNU and Randy Beckum’s sister I am completely and unbelievably stunned by the unjust treatment of both my brother and others by the Global Church and University leadership. I am witnessing daily the frustration of my children and nieces and nephews who I love dearly, as they justify once again, the reasons why they moved away from the Nazarene church as young adults. I stopped attending as well several years ago as I felt a yearning to attend and worship in a church where i felt my oldest son, who is gay, could be welcomed and embraced. My heritage lies within the Nazarene doctrine but my beliefs and future do not. I have wonderful friends and family who will remain but I have chosen a path, that for me, is one of biblical truth and grace over religion. I am, as Randy stated in his sermon on February 10, that resulted in his demotion, “Becoming by grace what He is by nature”.
    Thank you again for your transparency, your vulnerability and your honesty.

    • RuAnn, your family has done so much for so many. Thanks for your candor and honesty, thanks for sharing about your family, and about your struggle to find a church that will accept your family for who they are. I really pray we might become that sort of Church. Randy did so much for so many, and the ways in which he helped lead this progress cannot be fully understood.

      Thanks for sharing your brother with us. He has become like family to many, many others.

  14. Reblogged this on Peanut Butter Girl and commented:
    I don’t often reblog, but I appreciate the response and support people are showing for Dr. Oord. Churches shouldn’t silence, shouldn’t hate. So why do they?

    • Joyce, I say this without a hint of snark: There’s a lot we do that isn’t in the Bible. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s good or bad…just that the Bible isn’t an exhaustive list of what we can do.

  15. Michael,

    As a former attendee and member of the Central California District I can see very well where you are coming from. As a kid, I was always under the impression that my doubts were merely Satan trying to tempt me away, and that I needed to fight against that doubt as much as possible. Yet, it is, in my experience, doubt that truly brings us into relationship with God. We do not doubt because Satan or God force us too, but because we are human we do and cannot know all of the answers. We were given minds to seek out the answers to the world and it somehow was transmuted to me as a kid and high schooler that doubt was sinful.

    A little bit of background on who I am and how I came to leave the CotN may be important here. As a child is was a son of a former Baptist and Quaker. I spent my year at the CotN in Tehachapi, CA, but I spent my summers at a Quaker camp in the Sierras. Like all good Nazarene children I was involved in Caravans and Children’s quizzing and even attended regionals for Children’s quizzing in Arizona. My parents were the head of Teen Quizzing for our church and eventually the district and I spent all of my Memorial days at Point Loma once my sister got into Junior High. When I graduated I chose to go to Whitworth University (ostensibly though not actually Presbyterian) rather then Point Loma for reasons of money. I had been struggling at this point for many years with the issue of Holiness doctrine and doubt at the church and my life studying in Washington and getting to know many different professors and students from other backgrounds didn’t help the church in my eyes. I felt rejected by the Nazarene Church in Spokane and particularly was discouraged by the families who wouldn’t support their children’s interest in bible quizzing and people who were just as closed about their relationships with doubt as the ones I knew back in Tehachapi. I resolved to leave the church because it had (in my mind and by refusing to honor doubt and deal with sin not as something that we place between us and God, but instead as an action that God sets as a barrier between him and us and somethingthat called into question our faith) rejected me. I did not feel as though I would find in the CotN or any church the free reign to be human that I knew was allowed for by the grace of Christ’s sacrifice.

    Luckily for me, I found my way to a small church that celebrated this doubt. Now, I am not going to tell you to leave your church over doubt, I am simply illustrating how what you said resonates in my own life. At this new church, I discovered pastors who taught theology and encouraged us to question and learn, or even to question and be left wanting for an answer.

    “Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way”
    ― Karl Barth

    “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol”
    -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Barth and Bonhoeffer in Particular resonated with me. Men of faith, pastors, who pushed for their congregations to explore the mysteries of God and to understand that, sometimes, we will not get answers now and that is fine. It is also fine to let those questions be doubts because those doubts force us into further relationship with Christ, the only person who can help us see if not comprehend the answers.

    “The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
    ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

    “In the Church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians.”

    “Theology is not a private subject for theologians only. Nor is it a private subject for professors. Fortunately, there have always been pastors who have understood more about theology than most professors. Nor is theology a private subject of study for pastors. Fortunately, there have repeatedly been congregation members, and often whole congregations, who have pursued theology energetically while their pastors were theological infants or barbarians. Theology is a matter for the Church.”
    ― Karl Barth

    For me, the answer to this problem of doubt and the issue of connection lies in the churches steadfast refusal to being theology to its people. The church knows that it gets approxiamately two hours of our lives every week and, therefore, everything must be jammed into those two hours including, fellowship, teaching, confession, worship, etc. It is no surprise then that many pastors baI’ll at the idea of teaching theology and giving confusing lessons to the members of their congregation, but the struggle of the pastor to understand and the doubt that this can engender in people is very beneficial and we can grow as Christians from the image of the generations of great theological minds struggling with doubt and confusion. If doubt is not allowed in the mind of the Christian they have only a few responses; dismiss anything that draws doubt into their mind as false and of Satan, believe that doubt and the contradictions of the world prove that there is no God to have relationship with, or to leave the church that stifles the questions and find a church that deals with and allows for doubt. Please know that you are not alone in this question and that your doubts are important to you and to the church that you lead.

    • I meant to say that the church treats sin as a flaw that we must get rid of in order to be in communion with God, or at least make strides on since Christ is in support of us, not, as it is, barriers that we think we place between ourselves and God, those things and idols that tie us away from God, things we may never be rid of, but which, if we look, are gone because of the grace of God.

  16. I was part of Moody Church for many years in Chicago. I came as a new believer, became a missionary and deacon. The wealth, power and a sense of “Christian face” became heavier to the point I started to question theology and traditions. I miss the glorious worship, our passionate and very warm hearted senior pastor, but after I moved on spiritually discontent very few seem to care. As an emerging church planter with Free Methodist (much like Naz) I feel grateful that God has ordered my steps. I considered the Naz church since it is theologically the largest of true holiness denominations, but then I had a sense of the boldness BT Roberts took in founding the Free Methodist. Issues like American slavery, pew selling, and an overall lack of concern for the poor is what led to a break from the Methodist Church (niw UMC). Not all breaks are bad, and in fact as one family God never truly allows a break. We challenge each other to seek the one true name of the church as we face a world looking for answers.

  17. Dear Michael,

    I have your answer: No there isn’t, because there isn’t room for me.

    I receive lip service that I am wanted because I am a woman or think differently. However, what I see is a denomination that allows itself to live in such homogeneity that I do not see the point of staying. I have seen and heard of leaders and young people, especially the ones with new and vivacious vision, leaving the denomination because they do not feel wanted.

    What has happened?

    Many of our dreamers and innovators are leaving.

    And the doers, the ones who can execute the dreams, are letting them leave.

    We need our dreamers! They help us to think of new and bright ideas and plans. But they need help from the doers to make the dreams a reality. Instead, of getting help, they are demoted or shown the door.

    Now, I won’t leave my home church. It’s where I was saved, it’s where people invested in me, it’s my family, it’s my home. I love the people, I even love my district, but I need a reason to stay with the denomination as a whole. I need a reason to stay at NTS. Because right now? I could walk right out the door I’m being shown and not look back.

    I am proud of who I am: a biracial, loud, opinionated, independent woman who is filled with the Holy Spirit and wants to see a deep and lasting change in the Church of the Nazarene. But know this: I will not compromise my voice for fear of being bullied out of the church. I stood up to bullies my whole life and I will not get in line to save myself the heartbreak. It would be useless anyway,

    because I’m already heartbroken.

    Sincerely,
    Rhiannon

    • “I need a reason to stay at NTS. Because right now? I could walk right out the door I’m being shown and not look back.”

      Rhiannon, I know I don’t know you, but even still would encourage you to stay…if for no other reason, than because people like me need people like you. We need each other, and sometimes, community is the way that our voices (even when imperfect, hurting, or previously silenced) become vital and strong once more. Without your voice, the rest of us become more dim. We truly need each other.

      While I’m an eternal optimist, I really do believe- with all that’s within me- that the church has a future…and Rhiannon, that future has people like you and me in it.

  18. I grew up in the Wesleyan Church (sister denomination to the Nazarenes) and I am currently a member of a Nazarene Church in VA. I’ve seen churches rise and fall based on individuals, cliques, not wanting to change, and many other reasons. Yet, still there is a world out there that needs to see Jesus. It is sad when a church can’t step back and say is this how Jesus would show Love. We are human and very fallible. We so easily get caught up in believing our own expertise to the point where we think we are the authority and then use it to divide instead of show Love. I question theology frequently. I think it is important to ask questions about our beliefs and let God show us the answers through His word and the advise of others who have studied His word. But when someone tries to deal with an issue under there own authority, they start to fall on shaky ground. God should be sought out when dealing in any differences or challenges of faith. If He is in the middle of it than transparency should be easy.

    Life on earth is complicated. It was made complicated by sin. The one thing that should be easy for us to counter that complication(sin) is Love. Every person should be accepted and wrapped in Love no matter what they are wrestling with. God knows our struggles and it is up to God to help us through them. He may use the most unlikely person to do that. Or he may speak directly to us to give us guidance. The question is, “Are we listening?” We get caught up, elders, Pastors, and Theologians, in what we know. We forget there is so much more that we don’t know. It is important to have that humility when working through issues, especially with those who are struggling. It allows us to take out judgement that is reserved for God.

    I’m sure I am not saying anything new. It is sad to see someone feel rejected when they are doing their honest best to look for honest answers. Whether they are new to the church or lifelong members. The one thing we don’t realize is the world is looking at us. When we don’t act out of love, they see it, and they say we are no different than the world. This is not unique to the Nazarene Church. All denominations of God’s church face these struggles. We are human after all. I pray for God’s church that we would embrace those that seek truth. Even when it challenges longtime established beliefs. If the beliefs are truth God will reveal and reaffirm them to be truth. But we all have different paths that we learn and grow through.

  19. Mike,

    Your post really makes me sad. I can’t tell you how many Nazarene professors that I have had who taught things we don’t believe. I’m glad Oord was fired. Why should my money go to support students being taught things at a Nazarene school that goes against what we believe. He is fine to believe what he wants but not teach it at a Nazarene school. When you become an elder, you promise uphold what we believe. Oord failed to do so. We don’t need progressive theology, only progressive methods. The Wesleyan church and the assemblies of God gave grown consistently without liberal theology. I feel like too many people are causing young orthodox Nazarenes to feel like there is no place for us- only for theological liberal Nazarenes.

    • Brandon,

      I’m very sorry my post saddens you, I really am. Never have I wanted this to be something that creates dissension between those in our church. I do, however, want to kindly push back against a couple things you’ve said.

      I believe, as an ordained pastor, I am charged with upholding the articles of faith, and the integrity of our denomination. However, I also believe it is our job to engage and wrestle with what these mean in our post-modern world. I think Oord was very progressive in his theology, however I have spoke with highly respected Nazarene theologians (ones I know you, yourself would respect), and they said he’s never been guilty of heresy, and that his theology is able to co-exist within our theological framework.

      After all, the Nazarene church has a very, very wide theological tent. We aren’t strict Biblical literalists, we don’t mandate a person believe in a 6 day creation and we accept several different versions of the atonement as valid.

      I understand why many of his teachings make you uncomfortable; they made many Nazarene’s uncomfortable. However, I think it does us all a disservice to create false dichotomies like Orthodox/liberal and then apply them to the situation at hand. When we do that, there is now way to have a productive and meaningful conversation moving forward…and we need these sorts of conversations.

      I appreciate you, man! Thanks for taking the time to wrestle through this with me.

    • Brandon, I could not agree with you more. As Adjunct Faculty at a fine Nazarene University I had a VERY troubled ministerial student come to me VERY upset about what he was being taught about evolution; literally that man came from pond scum. Our Churches and our universities should not be forced to employ persons who believe and TEACH things that are absolutely anathema and toxic to what the denomination has believed and does believe.

      • Ralph (off topic a bit, but as you touch on something close to my heart, I will respond), I could not disagree with you more. I encourage you and your VERY troubled and upset ministerial student to take a moment and reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, and then if you feel up to it to seriously consider His chosen method (evolution) of creation. This isn’t something to take lightly or to be dismissive of it as “anathema and toxic,” it is a lifelong journey. It has been for me. I also don’t believe that debating God’s chosen method of creation is central to the message of Jesus Christ. You and your ministerial student have a lot to be VERY troubled and upset about, but I assure you this isn’t one of those things.

        I also encourage you to read a very good book on the subject: ‘Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology’ by Dr. Darrel Falk. I believe this will provide you with some of the intellectual tools from a faith based perspective that will better equip you to advise students on such matters.

        For the purpose of full disclosure, I now consider myself agnostic, but can appreciate the existential crisis experienced by many a Nazarene student that attends classes in the biological sciences. I left the Church for many reasons, but being told almost on a constant basis that I would go to hell for holding the view that God used evolution to create man certainly didn’t help. God (if he exists) will ultimately be my judge.

        Michael, I wish the best for you in your journey. Change comes slow to the behemoth that is the Church, but change does come eventually.

      • Thank you Ralph. I personally think that our Nazarene Universities are full of faculty like you with good, sound, doctrinal thinking. Keep pressing on and doing a good work to keep the Church of the Nazarene on the right path and not follow the same route as our very liberal brother and sister denominations have.

  20. I grew up in a Methodist church and felt great community and the love of Jesus and was taught God’s Word there…married in Moravian church (husband’s family Moravian) ….moved to France and started our own “church” in our home there–talk about an eye opener….there were no”Christian churches” anywhere close to the area we were living in France…so: …we invited people of every denomination and anyone who wanted to come…We had people of every race, every “denomination”, countries such as Nigeria, Germany, Britain, Scotland, and America….we had the sweetest time of fellowship studying the Bible together, sharing responsibilities, praying scriptures together, and everyone felt such amazing unity in Christ (many said it was the first time they ever felt that type of unity in Jesus)..we were not a “denomination” ..it is interesting that when we moved back to the states, we joined a church that came from “Baptist roots” but the church leadership specifically prayed and fasted about the perception of a” denomination” and we ended up becoming a “non-denominational Fellowship church” : our pastor teaches through whole books of the Bible and so we are studying the Bible as a congregation, we are very mission-minded, supporting missionaries in many countries and many local missions and local non-profits such as shelters for abuse victims and orphanages/ and we also have many mission trips overseas and in the U.S. every year. We have community groups that encourage each other and it all works well. Our church is growing and people who come say they have never felt such love and unity in Christ and /they feel great confidence in our leaders in being prayerful and Holy spirit led. There are many of these churches around. It is just not just my church. Churches are made up of people..the leaders and the people all have sins and flaws, however… None are perfect, most are striving to become more like Christ in loving Him and others and serving Him and others. All because we love Him. I have no problem at all with denominations, however, I do see that anything at all can become an idol ..even being a “proud Moravian” etc, and on and on.. I also believe that leaders are flawed, no matter what. They are held to a higher standard and that is biblical. They are responsible to a flock –they are the shepherds. I am praying we will all just follow the greatest commandment…Love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength and love others as Christ loves us. Unity in Christ no matter what our backgrounds, our “denominations” and the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, gentleness, humility and self-control / through Holy Spirit leading and wisdom and help…/
    Focus on Jesus, and be about our “Father’s business” while there is still time, and attending whichever church the Lord leads you to, where you will grow in grace and in knowledge of His truth and most of all in Love for Him and have a GREAT outlet through that church to serve your fellow man in love and kindness and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ would be a great goal. Sorry that was so long (: (:

  21. Michael, The comments have been long, if you get this far I have just a couple of suggestions. Not to belittle the seriousness of the issue but that cannot stop you from the task at hand.

    1) What did God call you to do?
    2) In who’s name or organization did he call you?
    3) Are you living in the moment and place God gave you or are you looking at the other yard’s green grass?

    Now get busy with God’s work!

    I love you brother, I have felt your pain. These were simply the questions I had to ask honestly of myself.

  22. Michael, after reading your post and other posts concerning the COTN, and the problems the church is experiencing goes much deeper than how I might feel about something. I believe the problem is a lack of holiness preaching being preached in our churches. This void of messages on sanctification has been coming for a couple of decades at least. Our church has become dry spiritually (not all thank God) and is more of a resemblance of the Corinthian Church now rather than a holiness church.
    To leave the church is not the answer. I had a professor when attending Luther Rice Seminary who addressed this very subject dealing with problems in the church. His comments were once you leave you no longer have a say in the matter because you are now on the outside looking in. You can only have a say if you stay. There is a book on holiness that was fifteen years in writing. The Title is “Bread of Tears” The book is available on Kindle e-book and Amazon paperback. The book ties together the command to be holy found in both the Old and New Testament.
    In the pursuit of truth, the writer endeavors to answer according to the word of God the following seven questions that have plagued humanity for centuries.
    1. Is God the Divine Creator of all that exists and apart from Him nothing exists?
    2. Is humankind eternally lost in his present condition?
    3. Can man be, saved, from his sinful state?
    4. Is Jesus Christ the only one who can forgive sin and set one free from sin?
    5. Is holiness relevant as a pre-condition to seeing God?
    6. Is holiness obtainable in the 21st century?
    7. Is there a final judgment where all humankind will receive their eternal reward that will determine their final abode of heaven or hell?

  23. I am a first gen member of the CotN. Having come from a Fundamentalist background, I’ve always been troubled by the presence in some CotN circles of the same certainty based and intolerant fundamentalism of my earlier Christian experience. Unfortunately, it seems that the fundamentalist tail may be wagging the denominational dog.

  24. Thank you for the open letter. I became a Nazarene about 43 years ago. Didn’t love the church I grew up in & did fall in love with the Nazarene church. My oldest son received a call at 16. He went to SNU & has a ministry degree. An older lady had some jealousy & lied about him. The church leaders believed her & not him. He is not in the ministry today & is serving the Lord with his wife in a non-denominational church. We hold no bad feelings & unforgiveness; but as an older generation we should encourage the young people. Thanks

  25. Great letter. I’ve recently returned to the CotN from atheism. One of the reasons I soured on Christianity in general and the Nazarenes in particular was because of the “sit down and shut up” attitude I got when I asked questions. It didn’t embarrass me as much as annoy me and make me believe that the reason that they didn’t want to answer my questions was because of weakness in their faith. Now I have a home and a pastor who encourages y questions and gives me answers when he can and is straight enough with me to not feed me a line when he doesn’t know the answer. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let people hold idiotic positions – you certainly aren’t going to stop them.

  26. Interesting topic and comments. My personal progression of church tribes has been: Methodist to Nazarene to Vineyard. I was formally educated in the Nazarene tribe (MNU & NTS). I am now 63 years old and have a fairly broad perspective on some of the questions/issues being discussed. There seems to always be a bit of a “love/hate” tension if you remain in a group for an extended period of time. There are things that are good, things that are not, and lots of stuff in the middle. For the most part, I am happy with my choices of who to affiliate with, but it’s not been without questions and some tension. I have found that many do not want to “live in the question.” They prefer to have airtight answers, opinions and positions that are not in question. One responder to this blog illustrates this position very well. I have no quarrel with him. I do have an aversion to being like that, myself, or being pushed in that direction. Refusing to explore issues of the day and not asking hard questions (theological and practical) does not make you stronger, individually, or as a tribe. It simply creates a closed set that cannot be shaken or penetrated by unwelcome questions, comments and perspectives. Unfortunate! KEEP ASKING THE QUESTIONS.

  27. Keep asking the questions, though many will react to living “in the question.” It’s much easier to have pat answers, positions and practices (theologically and practically). The “ancient paths” are not important and valid just because they are OLD. It’s because they have been proven valid throughout the years, and that takes continual testing along the journey. KEEP ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS

  28. Michael,
    I appreciate your letter and find myself in agreement with you on the vast majority of it. Doubts are indeed real and when dealt with honestly and straight forwardly, they can become a spring board to a much deeper level of discipleship.

    Thank you also for your carefulness to respect those unknown issues that might make transparency difficult. I particularly appreciate your sensitivity to the difficulties of leadership.

    Let me make one constructive observation. I don’t believe the issue is young vs. old, or millennials against the world. It is about the need for transparency and the willingness to allow robust dialog within the body by all constituents. These issues transcend age or demographic designation.

    Thank you for your honest writing. Keep writing.

    Chuck Hayes

    • Chuck, thanks so much for your kind words. They mean more than you know!

      Thanks also for the kind observations/critiques. You are absolutely correct. To diminish the scope of this conversation to a single generation is to remove the stories and concerns of many, many people. I will not make that mistake twice!

      Peace to you, friend.

  29. It sounds like you are mad at the church because you don’t know why these men were fired. Maybe they did something immoral and were let go quietly. If the pastors that were fired wanted you to know there business they would tell you. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill Palmer.

    • Amber, I’m not really sure what you hope to accomplish from this post. I’m someone who doesn’t require agreement, but I do ask that everyone is civil and respectful. If you want to respond and ask hard questions or disagree, I encourage that. But let’s not resort to dismissiveness. This conversation demands better than that (as I am confident you do, as well).

  30. Who is the head of the Church? If its a person alive today then ask the question again. If God resides within and I believe he does Then this is(NAZ) just one of the mansions or houses of the father. It is in the seeking and questions that we raise , do we find our place in his House. We find room within “the Church” comfortable and alluring , Yet we still already know that Men cull Men everyday. But the question does( the Head of the) “Church” has room for you is not the question . We all know the answer but do we choose to listen to truth of the answer. Ask the brothers in question or the person who had made this choice . THEN listen with your heart and open soul. You will find the answer. What you do with it……… Ahhhhhh That is the real question. Find Peace bring Love and Share Joy. If the” Push “is true then you need to drop the net and follow the master. for it may be a call to work another place and the reception more fulfilling. Leaders for what and for whom has always been a question of mine. For this world or the world to which Christ spoke of , on the cross. I pray that you hear the right answer and the strength of conviction to follow. In doing so You become a leader to which Christ has called. Not man but Christ.

  31. Michael,
    Very relatable. I could have written some of the same things in 2002. And while I/we needed to let the CofN go it’s own different way then, I have ever since hoped that I can return to the CofN someday. However have thrived staying on the way I learned originally in the Nazarene church. Ironic.

    Your/our/many of our stories… remind me of 2 Corinthians 7….where Paul is asking the people to make room for him/them (vs 2). And you speak with great frankness, just as verse 4 speaks of.

    I have no idea of the recent situations that you speak of (at MNU, ONU, etc.), as I’ve been out of Naz circles for a long time. However the red flags that I saw around 2002… dealt more with confusion and contradiction; sometimes so clear that it was frightening that no one either saw it or paid attention to it.
    Thanks again for your post.
    God bless the Church of the Nazarene.
    -Gary Chew

  32. I am not as connected in the Nazarene church anymore but it is my understanding that the laying off of Tom Oord is not as conspiratorial as we might think. It is a great possibility that this has been in the works for some time, was not a surprise to Mr. Oord to receive his walking papers in an email while on vacation in Hawaii, and is based on financial issues at the school more than anything. The money coming into the school is appropriated for specific reasons and by law cannot be used for wages. Mr. Oord was not the only staff member let go. Just something to consider.

    • Although, having said that, I know there is always more to a story than the obvious. Issues with trustees has always been on the top of the list. The trustees seem to be involved in every questionable situation that arises. Now I’m just bloviating. I can’t prove any of it.

  33. Thanks for writing this, Michael. Your voice is important, and you speak for many, both younger and older than you. Every person who has ever brought about change was told to sit down and shut up (always by those with power) for the sake of preserving unity and protecting the status quo of the institution. One of the big issues here (in addition to the lack of credibility or transparent and honest communication) is that we have a lot of leaders who are either oblivious to or are not taking seriously voices like yours. So you (we) have to keep talking. We have to. Everyone will tell you that when a marriage falls apart, lack of honesty and communication is almost always the first step. So as I see it, shutting up is the first step toward divorce. And I don’t want that, for any of us. Appreciate you, bro!

    • Thanks, Brannon. Your words are such an encouragement to me. I really appreciated getting to meet you (in real life) at M15, and I really appreciate all your work, advocacy and theological contributions within our denomination. It’s a pleasure working along side you!

  34. Michael,
    As a third generation pastor having served in the Wesleyan, Nazarene and Free Methodist churches, I have seen much of what you are talking about and more. I have told people on several occasions that the church has never been a safe place for me. The problem is that I have experienced this harshness from both sides. I have felt unwanted when I asked hard questions, and sometimes still do feel that way. I have felt unwanted as I have struggled with issues like women in ministry and sexual orientation and what the Bible truly says about them. But, I have also felt unwanted, specifically by a professor at NNU and his “proteges”, as I asked him and them hard questions about their “progressive” theology. That side was no better able to have an open discussion with someone who questioned than those mentioned often in this discussion that would be considered “old school”. The problem is two-fold;, 1) is there any actual, objective, absolute standard to which we can or should turn for all discussions and 2) while I love a good discussion, even debate or argument and do not have to break fellowship with the person even if we end up completely disagreeing, I have found that most people are just not capable of entering into this kind of dialogue. I was recently asked why I still even want to be in ministry. The answer is very complicated, but can be summed up in a way similar to another post, only from inside can I have any real expectation of effecting real change and moving discussion forward.

  35. Hey Mike– I have been a pastor for 33 years including a short stint as a missionary. I was debated as a baby in a Nazarene church, grew up in her revivals, Sunday schools, youth Groups, served on district and university boards after receiving 3 nazarene degrees from various Nazarene institutions of higher learning, and have served various districts as delegate to general conventions and assemblies, circumcised on the eighth day, regarding the law, blameless! Hahaha. Ok, enough pedigree stuff;
    I have seen the ugly underbelly of the church up close and personal. We could go through several boxes of Kleenex review the insults and abuses I’ve suffered at the hands of he sanctified so-called. I’ve thought of leaving more times than I can count. So here is my two cents; there is no such thing as a “general church”. There is no such thing as a “district church”. A university doesn’t even come close to bearing any similarity to the NT understanding of the ecclesia. So, the church only exists in local communities where people who love each other because they love Jesus have surrendered themselves to the cause and mission of Jesus. Who got elected, who got fired, who said she said he said is all a smoke screen that masks the true purpose of the gospel and drains us of emotional energy.
    Is there room in the Church for me? Yup. Because the local church is the only church. As long as I have people to love, a community to serve, and a pulpit to preach in, there’s room. If not, I’ll invite some people over to my garage and tell them about Jesus. I plan on loving Him, knowing Him, desperately seeking Him until I draw that last breath. And in this, I am content.

    • Don, your words are inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to write them down here. Sometime’s I’m so quickly to forget my charge; to preach the gospel, love the broken, and serve God. Pretty simple in the grand scheme of things, but how complicated I can make it!

  36. You seemed to have struck a nerve with many who have been in the Church of the Nazarene for many generations. These are my people. I have been a Chaplain a long time and tried to get a church after retiring–didn’t happen so I went back to prison ministry. Bitter no, just understand there are politics involved in our church. Chaplains don’t fit in very well.

    I appreciate the comments about sticking in with the Church to make it better. I also have noted the lack of assigning God’s role in the whole discussion. I don’t remember reading anyone who has said, “this is God’s Will” or design. Good Wesleyan comments. I believe in a God who weeps and I am sure He has shed a few tears for those who have been hurt.

    I am a grad from NNC (I know it is NNU now but not when i was there). There were plenty of scandals in my generation as well as my dad’s and children when they attended. I am sure there will be more. There has to be more to this than NNU is running out of money and had to let a tenured professor go. So we on the outside can only write on blogs waiting to the “rest of the story”.

    What we are learning now is more about ourselves and what causes us to take the time to write our feelings out. So some good has come from it as promised in Scripture for those who love the Lord and are called to His purposes.

  37. Would it surprise you to know that there are people of other faiths struggling with exactly the same questions? The Mormons (LDS) for example.

    This post is even the subject of a thread on a Mormon discussion board, where members are talking about the similarities between your experiences and theirs.

  38. Michael, this is not a lesson in psychology 101. For those who are struggling in the COTN with a personal disappointing experience whatever their disagreement with the church or their perception, one must remember the church is for all purposes made up of people pretty much like them. Each comes from different backgrounds, education, social values, and the list goes on. When we come to Christ our Christian walk must start with the gospel as taught by Christ and not everyone progresses in faith at the same rate of knowledge of God’s will for them; therefore we are taught to be tolerant love one another.

    What circumstance or circumstances that brought me to Christ may be different from yours. Having said that, our personal saving experience is the same, through grace by faith illustrated like this. The law arrests the guilty (me the sinner) and brings the transgressor to trial, and finds him culpable of sin worthy of death. When sins are confessed (I repent) then Christ, our advocate through grace comes along pleads our case to the Father who pardons (forgives me) the sinner and sets the condemned free without charge as if no crime was ever committed. Nowhere else in this world will you find that kind of mercy?

    I believe there is a place in the church for everyone if they seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. For those who wish to change the Bible and diminish its truth by introducing new practices and misrepresent Biblical truth Jesus sums up the power of His word found in Matthew 21:44 “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Jesus clearly teaches that there is only one way to receive salvation and that is we must fall on His mercy. If men continue to oppose Him the same power that would have saved them, had they accepted, by falling on the stone will prove their destruction. We are now living when some in the church are busy trying to change the gospel rather than the gospel changing them.

  39. For what it’s worth…here are my thoughts:

    I totally disagree with what this Pastor did in writing this “open Letter” . First he says He loves the Nazarene church and he would never leave it…then causes everyone else to be mad without having facts. We don’t know facts of the way President David Alexander made his decision to lay him off. From what I read Tom Oord really should have resigned or been fired because his beliefs do not line up with the Nazarene Church. Why would the Churches send money to support the Nazarene bible colleges and promote them to our youth when they do not have professors who believe the doctrine of our church?

    I hardly believe that youth today are leaving because they are not allowed to expand their thinking about what is truth. Nobody in this denomination has ever tossed out a youth struggling with truth. But a professor who teaches…he should know the truth. If not find a university that believes in evaluation and other liberal thinking…there are tons of them. Youth are leaving because we aren’t challenging them enough! We need to give them the truth and biblical guidelines with love and of course allow them to make mistakes give them grace and love and show them the power of God to live as God calls us. They are looking for something real.

    Galatians 5:15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

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  41. Michael – You ask the question “Is there room for me in the Church of the Nazarene?” I would say, it depends on you. If you fall in line with Dr Oords theology….let’s see…God makes mistakes, God doesn’t know everything, God changes, evolution and not creation, biblical errors and lots of them, oh – and a full supporter of Rob Bells book “love wins” even with its blatant lean towards universalism and the non-existence of hell (does Oord agree with Bell???)…these just to name a few………If this is where your theology falls, then there probably isn’t a place for you in this denomination. If you believe that the gay lifestyle is acceptable and not sinful, if you believe that abortion is a woman’s right to choose, or have opposition to anything that is listed in pages 46-57 of the manual, there probably isn’t a place for you in this denomination.

    I am by no means saying that you feel these ways in the least. I am also not saying that we should not be able to question what we believe in order to have a stronger argument for it. What I am saying though, is that if the end result of that questioning is a belief system that differs from what we believe as a denomination, than you should probably leave. The COTN is a “HOLINESS” church. Holiness is under attack by the world and we will continue to fight.

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  43. Ok… this is also an issue that I struggle with on so many levels. I was saved and Baptized in the Nazarene Church. Served on board and graduated from a Nazarene University. I was even around when that University dismissed one of the only professors that gave me hope that I might have a place in this church when I was questioning and wavering on if this was, in fact, a place I could feel at home. There is no shortage of politics, it would seem, in any of our institutions. I’m not sure there is a solution to that issue. I do know, that I have struggled with some of these questions and have been afraid to ask them for fear of ostracism in my church.

    An example of my question is that, I do feel as though it is a abortion is a woman’s right to choose. Does that mean I believe they should choose abortion?? NO, I don’t, but I do believe that if they do choose it, we as a church need to be there for them to embrace them in their brokenness when they learn the truth of the consequences their choice has. Do I believe that the homosexual life style is what God intended, not necessarily, but I believe that many are so broken that this is the only way they can feel love for what ever reason. Do I believe that the world began through evolution? NO, but I believe evolution is a scientific process and truth and should be taught to our children that biological beings can change and “evolve”. However, these are discussions that if I voiced in our church would become the subject of ridicule and ultimately end up in feeling so uncomfortable I would be forced to leave.

    Ultimately, I believe that we are broken people, but we are not the judges nor do we have the right to dictate how others live their lives. I believe it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone of the choices they make, it is God job to judge us for the decisions we, as broken people, make and it is our job as the body of Christ to be Jesus. In saying that I mean, it is our job to love people no matter their choices or beliefs. We preach the word of the Lord without apology and from that point let the Holy Spirit and God do their jobs. Are we to ignite fear in a person’s heart… I don’t think so, but if there is fear, maybe that is a conversation we should be able to have with each other without worry of condemnation by each other. If I’m not mistaken, I think this final point is the motivation of the entire article. I wish this would change. Do I see that coming in the future? I have hope, but do not see it coming to fruition in the near future. We must be willing to open our minds to the possibilities that we have it wrong, and no one likes to be wrong. Our purpose on this earth is love no matter what. When we figure out how to do that, we may finally see some change.

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