Sometime around last fall (2008) I began attending a small up-start church a few miles from where I live. Since becoming Reformed, I’ve found it very hard to find a church, but even more difficult is one that accepts divorce/remarried men into ministry. I would have settled for a church that wasn’t explicitly Reformed but didn’t teach against what I believe, as long as they don’t practice interminable non-restoration of men who are divorced and repentant where needed.
After attending a few times, I met with the pastor on Friday morning to explain what I was looking for in a church, my past, and my hopes for a grace-based church. To my delight, he explained that they were now independent of their parent church and that neither he nor the elders (to his knowledge) were completely against divorced or even remarried men in leadership. I’ll admit, I got watery eyes, as I felt I’d found a home in a young church or perhaps 120 people.
Earlier this year, around February, I told the pastor about what some ideas I had for things to present at the church and some ministry ideas. He was receptive and asked me to email his the ideas I had. I spent four weeks consulting with friends and praying over how to respond. On Sunday, March 1, I sent my email with my friends’ responses, desires and ideas for serving.
About two months later my pastor informs me that they’re putting together a membership initiative (a first for the two year old church) and I offered to help with researching the membership initiative process or anything else they needed. Knowing my theological background, the pastor was enthusiastic and told me that I might be invited to join the elders (not as a member of course) to help form the process. We talked about a couple issues and I left encouraged at a chance to serve. A couple weeks later, I followed up with an email that I spend transcribing from a John Piper sermon membership qualifications as it relates to the qualification for membership in the universal body of Christ (i.e., salvation).
Two days later I go my first and only response from my church. Ever. He merely thanked me for the “great nugget” mined from Piper, and an offer to “plan to get together” after he returned from camping.
I never heard back.
Last Sunday the sermondevotional was so bad I almost left five minutes into the series of obnoxious attempts at “ice breaker” humor. But I stuck through the anemic message, which only bore tangential reference to the text allegedly in focus, and made it through to the end. Though people know me, I’m not married and don’t have kids for their kids to play with so few people have any reason to fellowship with me, or so it seems few are interested in the single guy. But I struck up a conversation with one of the elders (the only one in attendance) and explained that I hadn’t heard back. Honestly, with how I’ve been ignored, I explained, it was hard not to think that it was that old divorce and remarriage issue cropping up again, hidden, unseen and unspoken, in the background. He felt bad an assured me that wasn’t the case. This lead to a conversation on divorce, remarriage and ministry, and I was delighted that he held a view consistent with the pastor. He, too, expressed a sense of urgency at the time running out before the pastor’s intent to preach about membership as early as September. He even stated that he’s personally welcome my offer to “drive” the process with schedules and such; similar to the project management I do at work. So he promised to email the other elders, the two pastors and me that very Sunday night, with a specific request for me to follow up with them all on my ideas, a prospective schedule, and a couple of personal notes on some issues we discussed. The more we talked the more certain he reiterated his plan to send an email that very night and for me to reply the same night, just as we discussed.
It’s now the following Friday and I’ve heard nothing.
I. Give. Up. On. These. Flakes.
But where do I go? Start my own? THAT is an option that has seen increasing discussion lately. Hey, at this point I’d be happy to gather around a Driscoll podcast with a bunch of guys every Sunday.
UPDATE 8/2: I came home at almost three in the morning to an email from the elder in question letting me know that he’s mistyped my email address a week ago. He included, of course, the email I was originally sent. I’ll blog it separately.