I have been told by friends who attended the membership meeting last night at the United Christian Church of Dubai that we have finally been removed from their membership roster. All good things come to those who wait. We have waited for 6.5 months!
That chapter in my life is now closed. Perhaps I will write about it in detail at some point, but for the present I am happy to move on. I now have some strong opinions on what a local church should not look like, I am still formulating what it should look like. I have some thoughts on this and am trusting God to lead me to other like-minded believers. I will write more on this in the future.
What follows are some comments from a man named Eric. I have his permission to reprint them. The original comments can be found here under comment number 701. I believe several of his observations are applicable to the church I have just left.
“It seems you don’t believe that the pastors had intent to do the things that are now viewed by most people as being bad. While I respect your right to believe that they aren’t capable of intending to create bad policies with bad consequences, I respectfully suggest that you are not opening your eyes and ears. This may or may not apply to you, but many CLC people have a presupposition that CLC pastors are, and always have been, pure as the driven snow. More CLC people need to adopt the idea that CLC pastors are just another average human, subject to the same temptation and sin as everyone else, capable of making the same bad decisions as everyone else. They are just as biased, just as deceived, and just as deceptive. They are self-absorbed like everyone else, and in fact, are more self-absorbed than the average person is, which is why they obsess over trying to appear to themselves and everyone else as being so humble by repeatedly drawing attention to their humility. So, for example…
If a group of pastors implement policies (or practices through their direct or indirect actions) that have the effect of restricting how you can study the Bible, how you can move between care groups, how you can leave the church and go somewhere else, who you can associate with, where you can get your teaching, and where you can send your kids to school, then the most reasonable conclusion is the effect those policies had was intended.
If a group of pastors provide false or half-true information about why churches leave, why pastors leave, and why members leave, then the most reasonable conclusion is that that information was intended by them to manipulate people’s perceptions.
If a group of pastors claim that they believe that they should be accountable to the congregation, but then create a constitution that doesn’t give the congregation any authority, and they make the very important decisions to hire and promote pastors without congregation approval even though they asked the congregation to approve a meaningless financial budget, then a reasonable conclusion is that they intend to keep authority to themselves despite their words.
If a group of pastors can read all of the information provided about CJ and still pronounce him fit for ministry, then the most reasonable conclusion is that they intend him to continue to lead people astray.
If a group of pastors is aware that people that they claim to love, that they claim responsibility for shepherding before a holy God, that they acknowledge before God that they stand in the place of Christ for these people and like Christ should lay down their lives for these sheep, if those pastors cannot risk their church and more importantly their jobs to be open and honest about the incredible pain and suffering that people under their care have endured, and take open responsibility for their actions and the actions of the church (lawyers be D**ned), if they are more concerned with protecting pedophiles and their own pastoral jobs than with protecting the children of their church, then the most reasonable conclusion is that they intend to be deceptive and manipulative and self-protective and have no care for other people.
If a group of pastors refuse to acknowledge their myriad of past leadership mistakes (yes, CLC has admitted to a few problems, but not enough of them and certainly not the most significant ones) and repent, that they want to move on from past mistakes without acknowledging the mistakes, then the most reasonable conclusion is that they intend to ignore their past mistakes and not take responsibility for them.
Well, on second thought, I’ll offer one other very reasonable conclusion besides pastoral bad intentions: the pastors just might not be very bright or very gifted. But regardless of whether they are bad or stupid, they shouldn’t be followed.”
For those interested in reading more of the events leading up to my resignation from the 9Marks United Christian Church of Dubai (uccdubai.org) you can do so at The Wartburg Watch blog.
Wade Burleson, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK, has served as President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (2002-2004), trustee for the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (2005-2008), and the official parliamentarian for several Oklahoma Baptist conventions. He is the author of several books, including Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen: Learning to Be Content Regardless of Your Circumstances and Hardball Religion. (From Wikipedia) Pastor Burleson has written an excellent article titled “5 Reasons to Say “No” to a Church Covenant.”
Jason Harris has written an excellent article titled “When Church Discipline is Sin.”
“I’m With the Drunks” by Stefan Van Voorst from the album “Out Beyond.”