some time at the end of may, beginning of june, i received a email from a bud telling me they heard of a church in the sacramento area that was looking for a pastor - he sent me a email address, but no web link [cornerstone christian church in el dorado hills does not have a website - recently i did find out it was formally "el dorado hills baptist church - in el dorado hills; which i had no idea about at the time i sent my resume] - and a short note saying, "they want to go in a new direction" - well, i am not keen on that [as i will explain later] but he was a friend so i send an email anyway saying:
"i received a email from a friend telling me that you were looking for a pastor, if that is the case i would be interested in sending a resume" -
that was it, the gist of the email - short and sweet; you see, i try not to send a resume just to send a resume - it is kind of a "test." you see, i have found that most churches are not caring enough to send a reply to an email asking for information, and that is the kind of church i have no desire to team with in ministry. i desire to open a dialog and ask questions about the church long before i send a resume. let me be honest, i can be a rather "radical" individual and as a pastor i truly expect those in "overseer" roles to actually do something and be an example of faith ["boards" are stiff and are only useful if they are walked on, or to build boxes with - and in either case i am not comfortable] - so i know i can be a pain in the ass, but i believe to walk in the light of christ requires us to stop talking and start doing, but i digress.
i send that email on june 5th, and as my test proves more times then not i never received a reply back; i figured they just "blew me off" [as most churches will do] - and that is not a big deal, because the more i thought about it the idea of "wanting to go in a new direction" should have caused me to not even think of sending an email - because in "church speak" "wanting to go in a new direction" always means "we got pissed at our old pastor and fired his boney little ass because he would not listen to a thing we told him to do - so, we are looking for a pastor with no balls to come in and do as we demand; keeping in mind that if what we tell him to do does not work we will still blame him for the failure and kick his boney little ass out on the streets with his family - like we did the last pastor." i should have known, but i sent anyway - why? i have no idea.
the "red flag"
the more i think about it, the more i realize the "want to go in a new direction" and the no website thing are two very large "red flags." you see in my world if the church does not have a website it is not in the 21st century - and that speaks volumes to "wanting to go in a new direction." now, at the time i had no idea the church was with the southern baptist church [another red flag], but that seems to be the the "norm" for southern baptist churches in the sacramento area, of all the southern baptist churches in the association less then 30% have a website, and just over 60% have an email address. maybe i was caught at a weak moment and thought, "well a friend said it was ok" - i have no idea, all i know is that it all came back this morning.
i got a reply:
this morning i opened my email and received a email from the "cornerstone christian church" - almost 3 months later - saying this:
"Thank you for your interest in the Lead Pastor position at Cornerstone Christian Church. We received over 130 applicants and, after much deliberation and prayer, we have narrowed our search to five individuals. We regret to inform you that at this time, we are no longer considering your application for this position.
May God guide you as you continue to seek his will and direction."
the lie - and the reaction:
what caused me some "concern" was that i never sent them an application - so what did they give "much deliberation and prayer" over? of the 130, mine was not in the mix - so, what were they praying over with my "application" [the one they did not recieve]? you see, to me, this is a lie - the church lied - it never received an application, so it could have never consider it at any point in time - but that is par for the course.
this little adventure reenfources my feelings twords the church and is just another reason why i do not like organized religion, and why i find most - if not all - churches to be a place of "questionable morals" at best - what i have found oer my years of dealing with churchesmis that, almost all the churches i have emailed and asked for information have either not answered my email at all, or if they did answer my email they simply referred me to their website for answers - and they never answer any questions i have had - why?
cornerstone christian church lied - now, i am sure that may seem harsh for some to here - and i am sure others will put it back on me saying things like "well, we all lie" - but i expect much more from a church - think about that for a sec, if the church lies about something how can i believe what they say about anything? if they lie about receiving a resume [which may seem small] how do i know they are not lying to me when they say they will love and care for me and my family? when does a church, or christian, cross the line between "little white lie" and "big bold black lie?" at what point does the church say, "it is ok for us [the church] to lie, but it is not ok for others to lie?" if i were to lie in the church would i be asked to leave? why should we view what they do as a "mistake" and what others do as a "lie?"
cornerstone christian church does not care - hard to grasp? but that is exactly what it tells me by not responding to my email for almost three months, and then replying with a message that does not apply to me at all - think about that - the church, as i have experienced it, treats people applying for a position with less dignity and honor then corporate america - i have been treated much better when i apply for a non-church position then when i apply for a church position - my questions are answered and my calls are returned.
churches need to be above what the world expects - they need to care, be honest and gracious in replying to emails - they need to be above what others expect from corporate america, and they need to show that people come before anything else - churches need to get rid of the corporate mentality and start to treat people with honor and dignity - they need to go beyond lip service and truly express the desires of christ - because the words of christ guides us, not the laws of man - hard to grasp? maybe, but until it changes, many people like me will not step foot into a church because we are tired of being hurt, insulted, belittled and thought of as something less then a child of God
10 years ago the world lost one of the greatest ladies to walk the face of the earth; no, one of the greatest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth. she died to early and yet made a powerful impact on many lives. her heart for those in need was great; her voice was a voice for those in need who, because of no fault of their own, had a hard time in life. she gave of herself on a daily basis and was willing to give more. no matter where she went people noticed her; they knew her; they felt her; they wanted to be by her. she was a great lady, and one the world will miss greatly.
10 years ago mother teressa left us to stand before God to hear the words "welcome, my good and faithful servant." i'm sorry, did you think i was going to mention princess di? funny, but the world is not interested in mother teressa - she was not as beautiful, she was not as rich, she did not have "royal blood," she was not in line to be queen - yet, as i write this i realize that she was beautiful, because her heart was bigger then anyone i could ever imagine; she was rich, because she honored God and cared for those who did not have; she was of "royal blood," because she was a daughter of the most high God; and her kingdom is the kingdom of God - so, yea she was all that and a cup of tea.
i heard a story that one day the pope gave her a fleet of limos, because [as the pope said] a women of her status should have limos - she in turn thanked the pope and turned around, sold them and used the money to feed those in need - i wonder, would di do that for another?
as i look at the differences between being "modern" and "postmodern" - i am struck at the paradox that is di/teressa - modern/postmodern:
mother teressa is more postmodern - she actually does the ministry - she does more then just "call attention" to a problem - she works, hands on, to solve the problem - she never becomes "the spokes person" for the problem, she becomes the voice that does the work and stands along side others in doing the work -
di is modern, she is the "write us a check" to solve the problem - she does not "get dirty" - but she stands for the photo op where she "touches" one of the fallen masses and asks us to "give of our self" - while never really "giving of herself."
of the two, i am more impressed with mother teressa - and not at all impressed with di - as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of di - with specials, movies and books - i wonder, will we get the same about mother teressa?
voiced by john o'keefe on 23.8.07
it has been a long time coming, but we are back in cali and loving it all. we drove across country and saw some very cool things - and had some very interesting experiences. one thing i learned during the trip is that sprint is not a very good cell phone company if you are driving across the 80 - we never seemed to hit a tower, even when we were under a tower.
we drove from north carolina to cali in about three days, but coming home was worth the effort. long trips are a great time to think and just restock life. as we were driving the open spaces i was able to think about life, my faith journey and all that comes with it - one thing that came to life is the desire to "make it simple." you see, too many church are making a faith journey hard, complex and filled with rule and regulations that are just not part of a valid faith walk. i came to the conclusion that our faith journey should be rather simple.
if you are seeking jesus as a teacher, you have all you need - seeking the help of another person can sometimes lead to "you must do this to be a 'true' christian" teachings. being a "true" follower is found in your voice with God, not with the voice others desire to place on you. you see, churches and ministers like thinking of themselves as "important" and i have come to the conclusion they are not - God is important, jesus is important - church is not important, ministers are not important, "church leaders" are not important - what is important is the desire to walk in the light of christ and seek the way of God. to know one is standing in a relationship with God and not with a human.
driving across country can be very interesting - in many ways - hearing the voices of "radio ministers" and the lines they strive to sell makes on thing why would anyone ever get involved in the church - i know that as a follower, all i desire is to be connected to God - and to be honest, i would never follow the teachings of many i heard across 80.
voiced by john o'keefe on 16.8.07
over the next few weeks i will be sharing with you some of the reasons i left "organized" religion. it needs to be said that i will be giving the reasons to you in no particular order - or in no particular importance. i will share them as they come to me, and i am able to express my feelings; they will come as ramblings from my heart. just so you know, everything is fair game. the reasons could be triggered by current events [as this one was], or just a "flash back" from past experiences - or a combo of both. so, without being long winded, let me share with you one that hit me today -
organized religion claims to love, but in fact finds reasons not to love:
today, as my wife was reading the news online she found a story about high point church in texas canceling the funeral of a man "last minute" because he was gay [story].
now the church claims that they did not know he was gay until the last minute; while the family claims the church knew he was gay from the start - so, who is right? well, in my experience dealing with the inner workings of the church i am more apt to believe the family and not the church - i know, i am very skeptical and jaded.
as a pastor, i was never concerned with what others thought, i felt we needed to do the right thing - and we needed to stand by what christ expected of us. in that, i got slapped many times and i am ok with that - because i knew i was doing the right thing. but here, as a church pulls out last minute, to help a family grieve and work through the loss of a family member - it blew the chance to minister and show that the "church" is above what others claim - the church gave in to pressures [and i am certain those pressures were coming from "major" givers]. the church could have said, "look, we do not agree with the lifestyle of your family member and we will be a place for you to find comfort in christ. we ask that you respect our views in this service, but we are first and foremost here for you." but, that was not the case.
the church said that they "did not agree with the lifestyle" of the person and could not hold the service based on that - ok, but what if a family member is a drunk, will they hold a service for them? what if a family member cheats on their spouse, would the church reject the service based on "not agreeing with their lifestyle?" what about a teen who dies and is not a virgin, would the church reject a service based on "lifestyle" issues?
you see, "lifestyle" issues are weak, and at best just a smoke screen for "we are afraid to lose money and members" over this issue; to me it shows a lack of integrity on the part of the pastors and church. it takes much more courage for the church to stand-up and say, "we are here for the family and we will support them in this time of need" - oh, and the fact that the guy was not a "member" has nothing to do with it; that would be simply another excuse to show how closed organized religion can be.
on a more "personal" note - high point uses the domain "church unusual" because it claims to be "not a normal church" - but it is so normal, it is the center of normal - and the funny thing is that on no place in its website does it claim that it finds "homosexuality an unacceptable lifestyle."
voiced by john o'keefe on 11.8.07