Feb 2, 2012
commented on Church or Cult?
Hi all, this is “Lance” from the article - Thank you Brendan for such a well written article.
A comment on objectivity caught my eye, as I am a fan of the objective. As for bias – I agree, I do have bias, I am angry at the pastors who looked at me square in the face and said (paraphrased) Lance, I’m not sure you were ever a Christian to begin with. It’s not ok. But I am not angry to the extent of revenge via press release.
Here are some thoughts to add some objectivity – and I can’t help to be a little subjective either – sorry, I’m not perfect.
My involvement in this piece was, from my intent, to 1) seek some form of checks and balance system with the many pastors at Mars Hill – perhaps a humble pastor will see it and reconsider his position. 2) Encourage those who are going through similar circumstances as I was encouraged by Andrew’s – don’t worry, in Pastor Mark’s own words “It’s all about Jesus” and not about what a zealous pastor says. 3) to inform the public – even as a member, community group leader, and intern at Mars Hill Church I didn’t think the extent to which my situation was taken was possible – power defends itself at any cost, and to maintain power it can never be wrong. That is what I saw from 2 pastors – guys, if God gives something to you (leadership, power, cancer) there is no man on earth that can take it away by force, you need not defend it.
Now to play pastors advocate
I absolutely did sin. I stepped down from community group leadership because I got drunk and slept with a brides maid at my buddies wedding back in 2010, I submitted to God’s authority reported my behavior to the leadership that was over me, repented of my sin and moved on. There were a couple of meetings with pastors that were great for me personally, and I learned a ton about God’s grace through it all.
Since I was a kid I have had an affinity for pornography, in the last 8 years I decided that it was turning me into a man that I did not want to be, 8 years later, I still have not been able to entirely stop watching porn on the internet. I have been through extensive counseling and have several other guys that help me to quit for good. And all of this is in the context of “repentance” I hid nothing from friends and pastors, and there was a loving relationship. The pastors said that this is the reason that I could not date and they wanted me to live in victory until such a point that they deemed I was safe.
Pastors are called to be ”shepherds of their flocks”, and as far as any organization goes, people need to listen to their bosses, soldiers need to follow orders, someone has to make a final decision. No one is perfect; you or me or anyone is capable of making a bad decision – and our decisions effect everyone.
What’s the hang up then? – at the time life was good, porn had not been an issue for an extended period of time, my now fiancé knew of my struggles as well as her father, and they were both helping me and encouraging me through it. There was no reason for the judgment given by the pastor (break up with your girlfriend) – it started as counsel, when I refused the advice, it turned into unrepentant sin.
So what’s the point lance?
My point is that if you draw parallels between you and any other person, be it the president or the pastor, or the people, and honestly take it into deep consideration. You will find that you are no different; it is highly likely that you would display the same behavior and probably already have with your kids, siblings, parents, bosses, subordinates, peers, and even yourself. If you don’t believe this, I know two guys that you would get along with really well, they may even make you a fellow pastor someday.
So what then? Are we all self-righteous ass holes? Well….. yes. If we could ever have been perfect Jesus would not have had to die to save us from sin and death. He does it by grace, through faith…
The point is Humility – you are not always right, even if you think your position demands you to be. Examples are –war over nonexistent WMD’s, the crusades, soldiers being ordered to their deaths on bad intel, the Stanly Milgram experiments! God gives grace to the humble, but to the proud …. Lots of bad things (read a bible).
To the men at Mars Hill – REPENT! take a step back, while the word cult is strong for where you are now, it is the direction you are headed in. friends, brothers, judgment is what God does – we are not God, we are not a spiritual elite that can speak for God (the majority of us any way) - if you had to remove people from a “flock” for un repentant sin, you would not have a congregation. Fore sure if there is a child molester, wife beater, homophobic people hater, porn ring leader, or exploiter extraordinaire you should do something about it. But remember, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, he died for our sins that ANYONE who would accept him would be saved from an eternity of separation from him. And finally, look at Jesus’ example of leadership that he gives to the disciples; his pyramid of power is inverted.
To the readers – no one is perfect, at whichever point you condemn a person, you condemn yourself at the same point. the same goes in our court of laws with legal precidents. God has grace for all who sin and repent - even for those who don’t right away (our court system does not) Mars Hill does lots of good in the community, they support local business, they recycle, they donate huge quantities of money to food banks and other charitable organizations, and over all the point of their message is love – you just have to get past the strong punch lines and watch an entire series.
To fellow Christians – just as you would anyone else, encourage Mars Hill towards repentance, it is Gods kindness and grace that leads men and women towards repentance. Not an Iron fist or slander, or libel, or gossip
To my friends at Mars Hill – you know who I am, I love and miss you all, if I could still be there I would – we don’t leave a family when things go bad, we fix things. I am banned from Mars Hill and not allowed back without repentance. The specific thing I am called to repent for is not a sin, therefore I cannot repent of it. Remember romans 2:17-29. I’m getting married, you are all invited, watch the mail.
Ok, let’s have some fun – I love comments! Mash it up everyone, I can take a beating.