Friday, July 18, 2008

Stay In or Bail? -- What's Up with the Presbyterian Church USA - Part 4

So those of us in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who believe the leadership is leading us in a wrong direction, and are making wrong decisions that are directly in conflict with the Word of God, have to figure out what we're going to do.

What would you do?

I know the answer that many, many people have made: Bail.

It is because of decisions like this, I believe, that many people are bailing out of the main church denominations. It's been going on for a long time, thus the plunging membership numbers. Can you blame them?

Many of us understand why Christians are leaving denominations that are making profoundly disturbing moves like this.

But still, is it the right thing to do?

It has probably been fifteen years ago that I had a conversation with a friend about this very topic. She's a member of another denomination--one I had some experience with when growing up, and not necessarily good experiences. They, too, were struggling through the push of some to ordain homosexuals. (Yeah, even back then.)

I asked her, "How can you stay a part of that denomination?"

She said, "I'm not going to abandon my denomination. I'm going to stay in it and fight for it." And she is to this day.

I've thought about what she said many, many times over the past decade and a half. It took me a while to come around to her way of thinking.

But you know what? I think way too many conservative-minded people have had the same line of thinking that I had. If your denomination does something (or several somethings) that you don't like, bail.

Bail out. Go somewhere else. Find some nice little cozy non-denominational church to attend and forget the big mainline denominations. Right?

Unfortunately, so many conservative-minded people have bailed, I think the percentage of liberal-minded people compared to conservatives has dramatically increased, thus allowing the liberal-minded folks to push through their agendas. Not good.

We can blame it on liberals if we want. But at least half the problem should be blamed on the conservatives who bailed, who refuse to stand up for what is right.

This is just another version of the same decline we see going on in society. The conservative-minded Christians don't stand up and say a word. They (we) just watch what's going on, get frustrated or angry or disappointed or discouraged, and then we go on about our business. It's as if we all think, "Let someone else take care of it. I'm busy." And so the other people are able to push through bad legislation or immoral policies or whatever. And everyone stays frustrated or angry or whatever. But no one stays in the fight.

Whether in society or in the mainline denominations, which do you think we should do? Stay in? Or bail?

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:12-15, NIV

Coming up in future posts:
Part 5 - A Hosea Relationship?
Part 6 - Bad-mouthing denominations


Jan Verhoeff said...


I agree. We are far too willing to step out of the picture and then look at the picture and complain at the lack of presence in it. What ever happened to standing on principle and being counted in the ring?

I remember hearing my grandparents talk about being "in the numbers" and at the time, I didn't know what they were talking about. Now I know. I want to be in the numbers who stand on the side of right and focus on keeping the numbers up on my side. I want to be one who stands for what I should be standing for and is counted. I can't be counted as standing, if I'm huddled in the corner gossiping about who all has left the church.

I believe. Therefore I must stand up for Jesus.

Dianne E. Butts said...

Thanks, Jan, for your comments. "Being in the numbers." I hadn't heard that phrase before, but I like it. I wanted to be counted among the numbers, too!
Keep standing for Him, and I'm standing with you.