I read this post with a growing feeling of “This is me!” My current church — like many others — has become scripted and manipulative.
It isn’t deliberate. It’s the result of a thousand small choices combined with a few basic philosophies. For example: The “everything is in support of the sermon” philosophy. Everything from the choice of music to the emotional plea at the end is to hammer home how important it is to take this sermon seriously and to repent and change our ways this week. And then next week it’s a different thing we are doing wrong. I’m sure it’s well-intentioned, but it’s exhausting.
It also contributes to a very passive “The senior pastor preaches, we listen” mentality. Our pastor occasionally says, “This is a dialogue!” — but all it means is he wants an “Amen!” at the right time. Would he welcome the clarification of a point or someone questioning his conclusion? Unthinkable.
I don’t mean to bash the senior pastor. He is under a lot of pressure. He’s basically the CEO of a business. And businesses tend to be concerned about the bottom line. Not necessarily profits, but vision statements and alignment and staff meetings.
The church should be a family, not a business. And that’s why we’re leaving.