This weekend I heard yet another story about yet another dysfunctional situation at yet another church.
Without going into detail that could identify the particular congregation, the issues involved manipulation, harassment, dishonesty, uninformed leaders making hasty decisions, six-hour meetings to deal with the fallout, firings, and inestimable wastes of time and morale.
Oh, wait, I don’t have to identify the church—it could be one of thousands.
That’s the sad thing, and it’s the reason I don’t want to work on a church staff.
Granted, my temperament is also part of it. I’m an independent spirit who disliked the institutionalized idiosyncrasies of school (no bathroom without a hall pass, lunch at 10:30 a.m) and the corporate workplace (no open-toed shoes, meetings about the ROI of thinking outside the box), and one of the things I enjoy most about the freelance life is an absence of drama.
But it would be nice if I did want to join a church staff team, if the beauty and community of God’s saints co-laboring at a church—any church—compelled me to be a part. Instead it compels me to run the other direction.
The local church is the hope of the world—Hybels and others have said it many times. And I agree.
I love my current church and the church I served in California and the one where I grew up, even though they haven’t been immune to the issues listed above. And I’ve invested in those churches, teaching preschoolers and memorizing choir anthems and washing dishes and manning registration tables and getting up at 6 a.m. for praise team rehearsal.
I love the church, serving the church, and being part of the church. I support my leaders and elders and try to be part of the solution.
But I don’t want to work there. If I’m going to spend 50 hours a week in a toxic environment, I know many that pay a lot more.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? What causes these problems and how can we improve the situation?