So I went to the Lutheran Men in Mission breakfast this morning at the "butt crack of dawn." Can't say that I was at my finest, but it was a good opportunity to talk with some of the older gentlemen from the congregation. And this has created a sort of dilemma. Here is what it is:
These gentlemen are perfect examples of what us young progressives would consider roadblocks to ministry. They're the type that some pastors say they just need to wait for them to die and then they can do effective ministry in their church. And sometimes I think things like that. I wonder what if they weren't here, constantly putting up a stink about some ministry decision? Just think of all the things we could do.
But over breakfast today it just kind of hit me like a ton of bricks between the eyes (i know i mixed metaphors. i can do that. artistic license and all. so there.), that these gentlemen are extremely dedicated to their church. They attend services weekly, they give money, they volunteer time to help out around the church (and fix parsonage dryers), really the church owes a lot to these men. They have been pillars of the congregation, often serving as past council presidents, committee chairmen... They have always been and continue to be very involved in the life and operation of this church. It is no wonder that they have loud opinions about what goes on in the church, especially when they see people who do less for the church and aren't as active as they are/once were take leadership roles in the church and start to steer it in a way that these older gentlemen don't agree with/approve of. Of course they'll protest loudly. They have a history here. They've invested their lives and their selves into this church.
And one of these gentlemen who you may know through some of my other messages as the lovely "Tom" has made very clear where he stands on various issues. And he's also made it very clear that he will not be swayed, that he really has no interest in hearing the other side of the issue, and any attempt to get him to listen to/consider the otherside is the work of heathens trying to lead him down the garden path to eternal damnation. So these men (at this point I think I need to make a disclaimer. I am using the term men, because that is the group of people I chatted with over breakfast and who I have heard the most protesting from. I know that in many churches, and mine included, that the women are just as vocal, but since I ate breakfast with the men this morning I am using that gender specific pronoun.) are often very set in their ways, and not open to much debate. So it's not like we can (or at least very easily) sway them to "our side" on an issue. They are very faithful men and the decisions they've come to are often very faithful decisions. But if we go against what they say, they still have enough pull in the congregation to at least make things uncomfortable for everyone. Although, in my experience, not once have they threatened to leave the congregation over these decisions that have been made that they've disagreed with, and to my knowledge they have not stopped being as involved as they once were (they, unlike others, have not splintered off and created their own church. They've, at least so far, decided to remain and to voice their dissent).
So there is my dilemma. Here are these faithful Christian men, who unlike the popular trend nowadays, are involved in church. They give both of their money and time. But they are very vocally opposed to a lot of what I, and others, see as Gospel oriented ministry. Makes things difficult. Why can't issues just be black and white? Wouldn't that make things easier? All this ambiguity sucks.