Monday, December 20, 2010

sending out the wolves

"We let a wolf into the church," Rexrode mused, "and now we can't get him out."

I wish I could say that this story about a small CofC in VA frightens me because it surprises me. Instead, it frightens me precisely because I don't find it that surprising.

I've never blogged directly about the things in my experience which render this narrative unsurprising. I've alluded to them only once, writing,
...[our] churches generally don't concern themselves with psych profiles or background checks for people who voluntarily go overseas to do mission work--these people raise their funds, typically from several churches, and so at least some of those churches don't necessarily know them personally or well, and yet we give people money at the drop of a hat and send them off--just trusting that we can take them at their word, because they say they're wanting to do this great work for the Lord. Even if we don't really know them from Adam.

Maybe that's awesome. But it's also naive.

And it totally backfires. Sometimes.

Because sometimes the people we fund are not good people. Sometimes they are terrible people, who do very bad things, all paid for out of church budgets by people who feel comfortable assuming that they can just take someone's word for it that all they want to do is serve God.
I see the exact same issue here in this story of the Harrisonburg Church of Christ--and for that reason, I wish I could agree with the reporter that this small church community "is an unlikely setting...for the kind of Southern Gothic tale involving murder and mendacity and money and treachery and, by many accounts, the handiwork of Satan himself." Instead I find it, sadly, a quite predictable setting. The only difference between what I've seen and this story is geography: this time, they invited the wolf in, instead of sending him out into the mission field. 

And so, of course, this means that this time, the wolf got caught. What happens to the wolves we send out into the world outside of our little red brick churches?


mundiejc said...

If someone answers the baptism, instrumental music, and communion questions right, many churches will hire them... without paying any attention to other important things... like what kind of person he is (its got to be a he you know).

Matthew Winkler comes to mind.

I dealt with this in a slightly different way, when I was hired as worship minister with nary a question about my theology besides their knowledge that I knew about praise teams and had gone to "contemporary" churches. It caused some issues, since, I was in charge, essentially of putting together our liturgy every Sunday, which, lets be honest, for most C of C's doesn't require much of a theology, but for me, certainly does.

When I didn't want to sing 19th century revivalist hymns (mansion robe and crown anyone?) or more modern, but all together lacking in depth songs like "get right church" and "said I wasn't" and when our scripture reading and call to worships included admonitions of justice from the Psalms... it definitely caused a rift.

Miscommunication, and poor theological education of the men who are supposed to be leading the congregation is a recipe for disaster.

Scott said...

Let's not forget the fact that the ones doing the hiring were pretty much wolves as well inflicting untold damage upon people during the years they held court. The wolves hired a wolf and they ate each other up and didn't care who was caught in the middle.