What do we do? Church politics and problems...(very long)

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by doodlebug, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. doodlebug

    doodlebug
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    If you look at the history of my posts, you will see I do write a lot about problems in our church. I'm sorry, but I am at a loss for what to do. My dh does not want to leave the church, despite there are many things going wrong. I am so stressed that I don't know how much more I can take. I have quit every job I was asked to do because of the stress. First, we had a scandal with our youth leader and his wife who were accused of child abuse (this was substantiated because they were required to take parenting classes, plus one of the county social workers goes to our church). Then, there was a big blow up with one of the men in the church wanting to keep others from serving in positions, so there was a meeting with all the men to deal with that. Then, we had several of the young families (about 5) leave the church due to one man who is teaching training union for children....and was talking to the children about all the problems in the church. The most recent thing that happened was a scandal with our building fund treasurer who was caught red handed stealing money from the account. She was also the SS treasurer and had been doing both jobs for 8-10 years. She got off because her brother-in-law is the head deacon. Oh, and by the way, we only have two deacons.....you do the math.
    So, we fast forward to last fall when I was on the nominating committee. The committee didn't want to set standards, they didn't want to define faithfulness (we have teachers who only show about 1/2 the time), they didn't want to hurt people's feelings (the treasurer has Huntington's disease and is about 70+ years old), and my favorite, "How can we require anyone to change when we've allowed it this long?" The committee was unevenly balanced with 2 against the preacher and 2 for the preacher and one coward (the head) who is afraid to make the tie breaking vote. I started having panic attacks, blood pressure issues, and then I found out I was going to have major surgery. I quit, and cited my health as the reason, but I wanted to tell the truth. The two people on the nominating committee who are against our pastor were going around behind the committee's back and trying to recruit who they wanted in important positions. They were spreading gossip and rumors, and they continued to do this even after I left. *sigh* Sorry this is so long!
    So, our treasurer ends up in the hospital, and is moved to a nursing home (where she is so much better off). At this point, we find out that no one is listed on the account besides her. The committee gets together and decides that they should elect someone to take the job temporarily. One man on the committee (he's against the preacher) elects himself. He gets two votes for, and one vote against. So, the church elects this man, but he only barely got 60% of the vote (he's required to have more than 50%). So, the next committee meeting comes, and this man now says he wants the job permanently. This raises a stink with the committee and the pastor says he's spoke with the deacons and they all agree that the person holding this position need to have 70% of the vote. This man tells our pastor that if there was a vote for his position, he would never get 70% now. So, the pastor gets in the pulpit that night and says he is calling for a vote, he doesn't want to be somewhere he is not wanted.
    (BTW, this is the condensed version :laugh: )
    Now, fast forward to this week. Wednesday is our business meeting. Not only is our pastor coming up for a vote, but this man (who has caused this whole mess) is coming up for a vote as our treasurer. He has not been faithful, his wife goes to a different church on Wednesday nights with their son because "they have a great children's program". Guess who is in charge of our church's children program? This man! His class attendance has dropped 80% in the last two years, and he doesn't care.
    What do we do? We have enough information on this man, and can get witnesses to prove he is not worthy of the position. He wants our pastor gone. Our pastor is Independent, our church is SB. This man is against Ind. and has tried to convince others in our church that our pastor is trying to change us to Ind. The weird thing is this man went to an Ind. church prior to coming to our church. We have no constitution, we have no by-laws which pertain to this situation. We are supposed to use Robert's Rules of Order, but it doesn't get used appropriately. Dh will not walk away, but I need scriptural reference to explain why we should do what we should do - I just don't know what to do....does that make sense?:BangHead:
    If you don't know what to say...........just :praying: for us!
     
  2. Scarlett O.

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    Whew!! And I was worried about the color of our floor in our social hall! :saint:

    Seriously though, sister, I do not know what to tell you. So I will do what you ask. I will pray. :praying:
     
    #2 Scarlett O., Feb 4, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  3. tinytim

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    Praying too....

    Just make sure your next church has a constitution....
    That would have taken care of a lot of the problems.

    BTW, are you still able to worship God there when you go on Sundays?
    That should give you a signal on what to do.
    Worship is the purpose we go to church.

    If I couldn't worship God, I would go where I could.
     
  4. rbell

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    Two basic kinds of churches:

    1. The "God, you're gonna have to make me stay" church.
    2. The "God, you're gonna have to make me leave" church.

    This one is the first.
     
  5. gb93433

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    How are you an organized church with no constitution and bylaws?
     
  6. doodlebug

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    That's the problem. You see, our church is in a rural area, and is very old in the community. A lot of the people who come there are either old timers or young families. The generation in between is missing. The old timers remember how things were always done. Back then, they didn't need by-laws or a constitution. There was always a large deacon board back then too. Over the last 10 years, all the other deacons have either died or divorced (and removed themselves) with the exception of our head deacon. He found it comfortable to just make decisions on his own. Until our current pastor pushed him into getting another younger deacon. Now, there are only two or three men in the church eligible to be deacons (my husband, one old timer, and the man who is causing all the trouble). The head deacon didn't hold his sister-in-law accountable for stealing God's money (he completely swept it under the rug - we do not know the extent of her theft except it could go back 8 years or more and it was last estimated at over $50,000), but he verbally reprimanded the younger deacon's wife for reporting child abuse on the youth pastor and his wife. The younger deacon doesn't have any support, so he just sits by. So, that is how you end up like us. We have "by-laws", but no formal constitution. I thought you couldn't have one without the other. Basically behind closed doors, our head deacon has said that our church hasn't practiced church discipline or Matthew 18 since he's been a deacon (30 years) and he doesn't plan on implementing it any time soon. I told him it wasn't scriptural - we have to practice Matthew 18, and he said we could, but he wouldn't bring anyone before the church even if we had already followed the steps.
    Of course, I should put my little disclaimer here and state this is my opinion, and how I see it might not be how someone else sees it. I just don't know how to continue to function in a church who doesn't care what the world thinks, but is more concerned hurting each others' feelings or making someone mad at us - what happened to "God said it, that settles it?" He said we shouldn't be of the world, we shouldn't be a stumbling block, we shouldn't steal, etc. When someone in our church does this, everyone just cowardly looks the other way. If I speak, I am told that I am out of place because I am a woman. My husband is told he doesn't have 'control' over me. :BangHead: That makes me crazy. My husband and I are partners - he gives me permission to speak my piece and stops me if I get over the top. If someone had listened to me at the last nominating committee meeting (when I was still a member), we wouldn't be in this position in the first place! I stood before all of them, and asked the question, "Can you someday stand before God and tell him this was the best you can do because you don't want to hurt someone's feelings?"
    Where is the fear of God? Where is the shame? Where is the desire to do our absolute best since God gave his best for us?
    I'm going to :sleeping_2: now. Perhaps in the morning, I'll have a clearer perspective.
     
  7. ccrobinson

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    Doodlebug, I'm surprised you've held out this long. This begs the question of why have you and dh stayed as long as you have? Hope that it will get better? It doesn't sound like it's going to get better anytime soon.
     
  8. Mexdeaf

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    My advice- make like Joseph!
     
  9. doodlebug

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    Honestly, I have wanted to leave for the last year, but have only stuck it out because my husband is so set on staying in the church where he has been going since he was a little boy. Of course, he has history, but he and I left the church once about 14 years ago due to these kinds of problems. We came back about the same time as our current pastor, which has been about 5 years now. I am the daughter of a SB pastor, and have been through these battles before. I feel like I owe it to God to stick it out, not for the people, but for Him.
    I'm just so :tear: sad today. I know God is still on the throne....I just have to let go and let Him deal with this. I don't know if there is anything we can do or not.
     
  10. rbell

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    Praying for you...

    As you and your husband talk of this, remind him gently that your children (if you have any at home) will likely think that this is what "church is supposed to be like." Maybe a move would save them from later woundedness. Generations behind you two could be harmed because of a infighting, caustic, rebellious church.

    Having said that, if your husband insists on staying, pray for him and support him.
     
  11. annsni

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    Can I be honest? That doesn't sound like a church at all. Atleast not anything slightly matching Biblical descriptions!! This just makes me so grateful for our church - with a large deacon board (18 men), a large pastoral staff (9), a large staff (45 at last count) and a lot of accountability. Our finances are taken care of by our administrative pastor (actually the senior pastor's son-in-law but he was an accountant by trade before he came on staff) and he makes sure that each year we have a full audit by an outside firm. He holds a tight grip on finances and is SO careful about how things are done (3 people in the locked room when counting the Sunday offerings which run around $25-30,000 a week) so that no one could be accused of anything. We just had an incident with one of our members (an accusation that ended up on the evening news with the reporter showing her disgust - when they totally didn't have the facts) and this was dealt with from the pulpit - with the woman's approval - where rumors were nipped and the church stood behind her with prayer and love. I've seen church discipline doled out when needed and people confronted when needed too.

    I read something like your situation and just cannot fathom being under the authority of a church like that - and would be praying very specifically for God to boot my hubby in the butt to leave that place. It is not a healthy church by any means and I think it's beyond what you guys can take change at this point. They don't want to change and they're not going to change, so it's best to find a church that atleast follows Scripture and is above board with stuff.

    I pray you can get out of there soon.
     
  12. Salamander

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    The reason most pastors who know what a church can be reduced to such as you've described, and I would have to consider my intent of revealing so many different problems as you have, is to surround himself with people he knows stand with him on the issues. that pastor then wouldn't have any problem making the decisions to honour the desires of the Lord in the church being more like He wants it to be. Instead it seems men have run amuck and done the usual thing and mess up what would otherwise be a good ol' country church.

    I use caution in what I'm about to say, mainly becuase I get to hear many gripe about their respective churches: the man who follows the Lord is the head of the wife and he should be more responsible in the decisions of this nature in regard to church affairs. I often request the wife of anyone who makes any major complaints to go with her husband to the pastor and let them discuss your concerns. If that pastor opens the door for your comments then that's his business.

    This will help the pastor make a rational judgement by how your husband responds and make it possible to see the spirituality of the situation surrounding your family and the church.

    I'm afraid what you offered is alot of complaints about the leadership in the church and this should be orchestrated by only the men.

    God will honour the scriptural way of hashing these complaints of yours out, don't forget, people will always act just like people. God's man is the one who God allows the discernment in these affairs to be wrought out the way that God will receive the honour and glory only He deserves.

    All churches have problems and many of the problems they have are caused by those who complain to others alot and seem to know everything that goes on in the church. I do know if this is a very small church that it can't be helped to know about most of what goes on, but iIlike to make sure i don't know about everything!:tear:
     
  13. trainbrainmommy

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    I can so relate to your frustration and how it makes you feel spiritually, emotionally and physically. When I married my DH, the church he was attending was the church he had attended since age 8. I grew up in the Midwest and attended many churches of all sizes - very small to very large. I had never attended a church that was as dysfunctional as "his".

    From the start I did not feel comfortable, but decided to just pray that God would lead us elsewhere if it was His will and that He would have to lead DH to make the final decision. I never came out and told DH I did not want to be there. See, his parents and sister attended there and I did not want them to hold it against me when/if we left. I also wanted DH to be clear that he was the head of the family. I prayed for 6 years.

    DH was the head of the finance committee and a trustee and he was the music leader. I told God that I didn’t want to be there, but I would serve while I was there. By the time we left, I was the head of junior church and the nursery, I put together the bulletin and decorated the front of the sanctuary and I was the church treasurer. I made it clear in the meeting where I was voted in as treasurer that I didn't want anyone to have a problem with me being treasurer and DH being head of finances. I have experience cleaning up financial records. I only took the position after discovering that the former treasurer had not kept up with the books or bills. Instead of the $10,000 bank balance she had guessed at, there was really only $100. There was no money missing - there was just no concept of bookkeeping. My discovery kept the church from making a huge financial error, much to the pastor's relief and dismay. See, he wanted the church to fund a missions trip. He had waited til the last minute to raise funds and everyone had to scramble to find money to go because he told them not to worry - he would get the church to pay for the trip. OOPS. :tonofbricks:

    The pastor stated from the pulpit that if the church constitution did not allow him to do what he wanted, it needed to be thrown out. And he said if there were people who did not agree with what he wanted to do, they needed to leave rather than hinder him. All this was in reference to how he had been spending church money on church projects without following procedures.

    Anyway. My best friend told me during the turmoil, "It will get worse before it gets better." And it did. DH took a real beating by the pastor and the men of the church. We were running in the red (for 3 years, I discovered) and even after showing them the figures and the future estimates, they insisted on giving the pastor a raise and increasing the budget and said DH was not living by faith when he said he could not support that decision. We found out through this situation that the pastor had lied on 2 occasions and had been deceptive on a third - all to save face and to manipulate situations to do what he wanted with the church finances. DH talked to 2 deacons who agreed the pastor was out of line, but they would not do anything. :BangHead:

    For months, DH and I felt as if we were constantly sick and church consumed us. We gave up leading praise and worship. We were not happy about giving money to the church for the leadership to misuse. We were not happy about attending church at all. The final straw for me was when one of the women in the church protested the notice I posted in the nursery. It was a short list of common sense things for the workers to be sure to do. I had also proposed having a card for each child with general likes/dislikes and instructions - including who was allowed to take the child from the nursery. (I had a 2 year old and a newborn and I was very angry that ladies and teens from the church felt comfortable taking them from the nursery.) The pastor sided with the lady who said she didn't want visitors to think the church ran everything with a bunch of rules.

    I sent DH to the church to remove every thing there that was ours - including the flowers at the front of the church. All this took place just before Christmas. Christmas Eve service was so sweet – we visited the “other SB church” in town. We were joyful to be there. We gave our offering happily. We worshipped! We spent 3 months visiting churches in our area and each week we were excited to be fed. I have to say, when we finally made the decision to leave, it was a HUGE burden rolled away. I gave them a copy of the junior church curriculum I had put together and I stayed on as treasurer long enough to train in the new lady - they found someone to be a check writer - not a treasurer.

    We found a new church and although we are learning some of the issues here as it is IFB, the pastor strives to do things decently and in order.

    DH decided that DS and DD would follow our example concerning church and our feelings and attitudes for it and he did not want to bring them up in a church where we did not respect the leadership – deacons/trustees/finance committee and/or pastor.

    I will pray that you and DH find peace in the midst of this storm and that DH will have the clarity of thought and discernment to do what is best for his family. I will pray that you have patience with DH to hear God’s leading and that you will all come through this storm more blessed and at peace than you can imagine. :godisgood:
     
  14. Scarlett O.

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    Hey, again, Doodlebug! (I love your screen name!)

    Well, I have read some more of your posts and posts from others and I think I can suggest a couple of ideas. You can take it or leave it.

    You have added that there are people in the church who claim that your husband has no control over you. That seems to be an issue that you did not say in your first post. By your own admission, he apparent does being that you say he give you "permission" to voice your opinion and he stops you when he's had enough of your opinion. I don't know if that's exactly what you meant to say.

    Well, you know in the Baptist universe what the expectation of wives are.

    I asked myself what I would do if I were in your very unhappy and miserable condition at this church and were also a wife whose husband did not wish to leave his boyhood church.

    It ain't easy, but this is what I would do.

    I would ask myself, what is the worst case scenerio. It would be that things would get no better at church and my husband would stay there forever. OK, then. I would prepare for the worst. I would do the following:
    • Continue praying for the healing of my church. Everyday. Not praying for people's actions, but for the Holy Spirit's healing.
    • Continue praying that God would move my husband, since I am not allowed to move myself.
    • Being a very selfish prayer warrior for me. I would pray for God to give me a contentment like he gave the apostle Paul. Paul said that in all things he was content. In all things. Paul went through some horrid things and came out whole for enduring it. He was not a martyr and I don't like a martyr attitude and Baptists especially don't like wives who consider themselves martyrs, so I would be careful to avoid that pity-party trap. I would pray for real contentment.
    • I would very selfishly pray for God to help me run the race like the apostle spoke about running and finishing. I would think of every Sunday as a "hurdle" in that race and pray for peace to overcome it.
    • I would not serve on anymore committees nor take a active role in large responsibilities. Maybe small efforts. Not out of defiance, but out of trying to keep the peace, even if it meant my backing down and just stepping aside.
    • I would beg for the mercy and grace of God to show me how to worship in this place. Even if I had to tune out the preacher and focus on the worshipful words of a hymn that we sang or one of my bible readings. Even if I had to feel like it was just me and God there......I would pray without ceasing for something that could trigger contentment, peace, and worship for myself at that church. Even if it was just sitting there, silently praying to God and silently making a list of all that He has done for me and being in a spirit of gratitude and praise to Him.
    • I would not allow the devil to get the upper hand on my worship time with God in His house.
    • I would continue to share with my husband that I felt that our family, especially our children, needed to be in a healthy church and a peaceful church for the sake of our spiritual growth. I wouldn't get into specifics anymore with him about the church. I would not voice my "opinion" on those specifics anymore. If my valid concerns about what I felt was wrong with the church had not moved my husband, then only God can do that. If he did not understand me, the woman that he is one flesh with, then my efforts at continuing the frustrated opinions must stop.
    Your situation may not change for a long time.

    It may never change. Your husband may never leave.

    But you can allow God to relieve you of the misery. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it.

    So far, you are letting the circumstances get the better of you. Your circumstance are standing between you and God. Put God inbetween you and your circumstances.

    Pray a hedge of healing around your church. Pray a hedge of understanding around your husband. And pray a hedge of peace around yourself.

    And everytime that the devil tries to remind you that you are miserable, quickly pray for God to provide you with a way of escape. And He will.
     
  15. doodlebug

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    Thank you all for your prayers....

    Due to the weather, we were unable to go to the business meeting. Our pastor's vote was 95% for him, and only 4 people voted against him. Three of those 4 we know were the man who was being voted on as treasurer, his wife, and his son. The man who came up for treasurer did not make his vote - the majority were against him. A few people in the church who support him are upset. One older man spoke up today in church during service stating that in the 60 years he has been a member of the church, he has never seen someone not get voted in. He claimed that the church by-laws were being changed into independent Baptist ways, but this is untrue. None of our church family spoke the truth or said anything.

    I am still frustrated, but I have more peace than I did before. I know that God is clearing a path in this church, and I have enough faith to keep holding on. I am not getting fed right now, but I plan on attending some spring revivals in the area to get recharged. I have to stay because my husband insists that we need to stay. I have to put my trust in him that he will know when we absolutely cannot do this anymore. God is trying to weed out the wheat and tares. I am trying to focus more on my family and not so much on church, which is helping. Keep praying for us. God is still on the throne! He will bring us through, or He will give my husband a big sign that let's him know it's time to go. Thank you again for the advice and prayers.
     
    #15 doodlebug, Feb 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2007
  16. Shiloh

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    Due to the weather, we were unable to go to the business meeting. Our pastor's vote was 95% for him, and only 4 people voted against him.

    This whole thing sounds like the old fellow that got a call from his wife as he was driving on I95. His wife yelled to him, "honey be careful I just heard on the news that some nut is driving the wrong way on the interstate" to which he replied, One nut, there is a whole lot of nuts here, they are all going the wrong way.

    I am leaning more toward the pastor all the time!
     
  17. bapmom

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    excellent advice Scarlett! doodlebug, I suggest that Scarlett's advice here is the absolute best you could get and I think you should print her post out and tape it to your mirror or 'frigerator. Seriously.

    Im praying for you sister!
     
  18. menageriekeeper

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    I've been through this too, but my situation was somewhat different from yours.

    I married into my husband's small country church that was led by one certain family and where it seemed the Bible was followed selectively. (ie, black folk were welcome to VBS but not regular services, there was a huge fuss when the volunteer music minister brought he music in an old liquour box, church members would speak on Sunday but not know you through the week and on and on) But, it was close to where he lived and he and his parents had always gone there and there were "reasons" why we couldn't attend any other church in the area (and these too were run by the "founding family"). So off we went.

    About two years into our marriage, my husband's parents began having problems and dropped out of church. We were having our own problems and just gradually quit attending. At the time, I thought things would blow over, eventually.

    The church was having it's own problems. Infighting, control issues, giving was down and there came the need for a new pastor who the church couldn't support. DH didn't want to be involved and so we weren't and didn't need to be what with everthing that was going on at home anyway.

    About two years later, our marriage problems came to a head at just about the time our first child was born. We still on again, off again, but these problems put an end to our going to church, period. We dealt with our problems (with no help, I might add from anyone in the church), but DH wasn't going back to church. Did I say that we hadn't been visited by anyone from the church during this 4 years of declining church attendence? Of course, there was no one who could. We chose to deal with our problems privately, others just fought them out in the presence of God and country. :rolleyes: The church was down to less than 50 members by this time.

    Well God wasn't just going to let me get away with not going to church and not raising my daughter to go to church. DH again said, if we can't go here, I'm not going. So, despite the problems, I went there. DH didn't. For the next 5 or 6 years I went to this church and took my kids, by myself. The worst of the infighting was over, cause those who caused it died off. But it left the church with very few members. By the time my third child was born and DH still wouldn't go to the only church he allowed was good enough, the Lord led me to look for a change. At this time, it wasn't the infighting that was the problem. The problem was that DH wasn't going and I felt that my children needed to hear about Christ from someone other than me. I was the only one teaching them at home and I was also their SS teacher.

    Did I discuss things with DH? Yes. But, since he refused to go to church, wasn't living a Christian lifestyle and also wouldn't take the responsibility to teach our children about Christ, I had no choice but to take this matter into my own hands and go where I felt the Lord was leading me. He led me to the church where we attend now. It took nearly two years, but DH also moved his membership when I moved mine.

    Back to the old church. It took the church nearly dying before it changed it's ways. It's been a good 10 years since I was a member there and only now is the church beginning to make a comeback, thanks to a few faithful members who worked tirelessly to make the changes needed. The selfishness and the power mongering were the first things that had to go. But, those go easily when there is no power to be had! My inlaws are finally back in church (after nearly 15 years) at that church and the atmosphere is such that they are amazed.

    Whether to stay or to go, is an individual decision that can only be made by the individual and God and in your case, Doodlebug with your husband. My only advice would be, if your husband insists on sticking with this church, you will have to take the good with the bad and keep your mouth shut. Sounds ugly doesn't it? I don't mean it to be, but, it is your husband's duty first to deal with issues in the church. If he won't deal with them, sit back, relax and let them go on. You as a woman stepping in front of your husband's decision to do nothing is what Paul was describing as usurping authority. You say, "you left a whole church behind because your husband wouldn't deal with it." But in my case, my husband refused to deal with more than just church issues. He refused to deal with spiritual issues at all. It was as though he weren't a Christian at all. I had no choice. I would have been thrilled if my husband had darkened the church doors even if he didn't deal with church politics.

    You have a husband who seems willing to lead. Let him! Trust your husband enough to let him set the manner in which your family responds to church mess. At least until he abandons all pretense of living life as a Christian. Only then should you pick up the full responsibility of leading your children to Christ. It's a heavy load and not one I would wish on anyone.
     
  19. Jkdbuck76

    Jkdbuck76
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    doodlebug,

    Run. Run far. Run far far away.

    Go to a bible-believing and preaching church.
     
  20. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    Amen to that. While lots of posts above have alluded to the fact that men are in positions of leadership, and that the wife should follow the leadership of the husband, it is also a Biblical command that the husband love his wife as Christ loved the church. This being so, it is up to the husband to take the lead, realize that his wife cannot worship God in the immoral and carnival atmosphere you describe. Look, there is strife at work, strife with kids etc, church is the one place one should not have to put up with that. To the husband of doodlebug, use your Godly leadership and lead your family to a place where true worship can take place, and stop with the soap opera and politics.
     

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