Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bullying or Mob Mentality

       "Thousands of years ago, tribes of human beings suffered great privations in the struggle to survive. In this struggle it was important not only to be able to handle a club, but also to possess the ability to think reasonably, to take care of the knowledge and experience garnered by the tribe, and to develop the links that would provide cooperation with other tribes. Today the entire human race is faced with a similar test."
       (Last paragraph of Andrei Sakharov's Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1975)   
   
The United Methodist church can still get out of a decline if there are enough leaders, who can fearlessly address the culture of our denomination that reflects congregational morale. Churches are trying to keep their doors opened, waiting for new members to join while not taking a critical look at their behavioral patterns. The revitalization starts with telling the truth, and the truth is not pretty: people get hurt by churches and live with sour aftertaste for years.   
      The most important question was to ponder why Christianity has become a wedge that drives people from Christ, rather than drawing them to him. Churches are polarized because Christians treat each other in distractive ways.
       How can we, pastors, prevent rude comments, bullying, arrogant attitude, and yelling that make sane people want to run away? How many people left the church because they refused to be treated in unchristian way?  Mahatma Gandhi once commented, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians."
       Unfortunately, too many churches act like tribes that try to survive, competing with other churches rather than cooperating and learning from each other.  
      What do we model as a church? While many of us are trying to unite Methodists, our congregations continue arguing and arguing, people do not listen.
       There is little space left for love and acceptance. There is little space left for God.   
       Do we even remember why we are Christians?
       We handle a club well, how about handling a dialog?

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