church_steeple.jpg Warning: the following post is an April Fool’s post… it isn’t true. Unfortunately, many who originally read it hoped so much that it were so that the realization it was fake was a rather strong letdown. For that, I’m sorry. Others, of course, found it quite funny.

Sometimes you can be caught off guard by the way God tends to realign things after a period of time. As most readers will know, I had an eventful departure from my CLB, and it was left unresolved — we just moved on. That was 4½ years ago, and last night I got a call from the senior pastor of the church. I was taken aback at hearing his voice on the phone, so I was initially a bit defensive. Yeah, call me cynical, I won’t deny it. He apologized for what had happened when we left and for the complicity of the church eldership in not addressing the situation at the time. Turns out that they had felt God convicting them about this situation (and a few others like it) during their usual January prayer and fasting time for the new year, and they had finally decided to confront the pastor/elder involved in the situation. The conversation hadn’t gone well, and he’s resigned his position as an elder. He’s now on a two-month probationary period as they work out what to do and whether he will own up to his part in the whole mess.

I indicated that I was glad to hear this, but the senior pastor told me there was more. It seems that in their re-examination of things, they’ve (finally!) realized that there are some problems with some of the ways they do things. They’ve been accused of spiritual abuse by others besides me, and my impression last night was that they still aren’t quite ready to own up to it, but they’re willing to talk about it and explore it as an honest question. Essentially, they are now inviting three people to do a review of their leadership and some of the church programs where there are issues, and because of the things I had been telling them over a period of some years prior to my departure, they have invited me to sit on this panel. The other two people are one of their lay-leaders and an independent outsider (a “bigger name”) who I know only by reputation. They are expecting the review to take place over a period of eight weeks and are offering a reasonable honorarium for our efforts. At the conclusion, the panel will make recommendations, and if they are accepted there may be an opportunity to work with them over a longer period to help introduce and monitor changes that prove necessary.

The weirdest thing will be that I’ll be attending church there on Sunday mornings for the eight weeks during the process, from April 19th through June 14th. I’m certain that’s going to feel quite strange at first. I confess I really didn’t want to do this… my preference at this stage is just to keep my distance and move on, but I feel I need to get involved again from the outside, at least for a brief season. I don’t forsee ever becoming a part of this local church again, and will therefore not be dragging my family through the process. Just me, and I’m not really looking forward to it.

To be honest, I’m still a bit skeptical, but when offered the opportunity to help review and bring some of the change that I know is necessary, it’s hard to turn down. There are still a good many people there of whom I am fond, and if this can work toward saving them grief down the road, I feel it’s simply something I need to do despite my trepidation. I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts on this one. There’s some additional background available as well, in case it helps inform responses.

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