angry preacher

After college I moved to a nearby city with a good friend. We joined AmeriCorps and moved into the inner city. We were ready to change the world, or at least a few blocks.

One piece in our redemptive puzzle was finding a local church. Yes, we believed a church would be good for us and the community.

We found a church that met at the end of our block. We heard good things about the pastor, namely that he was committed to the bible and the neighborhood. Then we discovered that the pastor lived next door to us!

It sounded perfect! I anticipated a long term relationship with that congregation.

The first couple of visits were fine. It was far from hip and exciting, but it was fine. We believed that other things trumped coolness. They had the right theology, which the pastor continually pointed out.

However, something was not right. I began to ask some questions:

Why all of the effort critiquing all of the other churches?

Why all of the effort pointing out what was wrong with other people?

Why all of the effort criticizing every other group trying to help the community?

Why so much effort yelling about how we were right because we believed in the Bible and Jesus … yet, so little time actually looking at the teachings of the Bible and Jesus.

It seemed that the pastor was more concerned with our not being certain things than he was with being who we were called to be. More concerned with the “don’t” than the “do.”

It was all anger all of the time. Even the jokes were rooted in anger.

They claimed to be the church that put the “fun back into fundamentalist.”

It was not fun. It was not life giving. It was not good for me, or the community.

So, I left a church that I really wanted to be a part of.

I am still sad when I think about that pastor. He was so angry, so afraid, so wounded. I pray he has healed.

I pray that church is now a source of hope, joy, and peace for that neighborhood.

As I continue to strive to change the world, or at least a few lives, and as I take some shots along the way … I pray for grace to protect me from becoming another angry preacher.