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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

Missing the Point

Updated: Apr 30




Comfortably sandwiched between my Church Peeps, I sat in service, feeling chastised. But it wasn't because of a grievous transgression. No; I rolled my eyes all the way into the back of my head because I believed the speaker was, albeit humorously, poking fun at those of us who planned our lives around the viewing of the solar eclipse.


Instantly my mind shouted down all of the words during the rest of the sermon, as I thought back to that thrilling act of God and nature. Over the next two days, I formulated a gentle rebuttal to his off-handed, but humorous take on that "once in a lifetime!" event and published it on Living Water's blog.


But here’s the thing…I MISSED THE POINT!


Our Mike Bongo didn’t spend hours pouring over commentaries, praying, and seeking godly counsel, while simultaneously fulfilling his other duties as Outreach Director, just so he could publically razz me for going bananas over the solar eclipse. He got up there and preached on the meaty 2 Corinthians 3, and the gloriousness of the New Covenant.


Oh, that point.


Now granted, I didn't write that blog itching for a fight, and this wasn’t the equivalent of a rage email that I should have waited 24 hours to send and then delete anyway. But if you had replaced “solar eclipse” with something like “pride” or “anger”?  Those and other weighty sins tend to rattle my cage.  A sanctimonious, defensive email easily could have flowed from these fingers.


How about these complaints?

  • The opening story didn’t fit.

  • The word “sanctification” was spelled wrong on the screen.

  • The King James Version is the only true translation.

  • You mispronounced “Jehoiachin”.   

  • Your sermons are too short…or too long…or too consistent.

  • Your wife should be more (or less) involved in ministry.  

  • Your kid hasn't been very friendly with my kid. (And for the record, as a preacher's kid myself, can we keep them off limits?)

  • The 80s called.  They want their sweater back.


I won’t confess which ones, but I’m guilty of thinking of some version of many of those, and my shallow self has actually written an email about their attire. Embarrassing.


But what about the meatier stuff? Hot-button topics like women at the pulpit, the LGBTQ camp, racism, and abortion. Politics!!  Of course, you should approach the messenger if you feel that the scripture was misrepresented or taken out of context.


But I will humbly submit to you this:

  • Maybe we shouldn’t rush to the podium after service to share our thoughts; it’s possible they need to collect their own while they prep for the next service.

  • Maybe we should sit on that rage email for 24 hours before hitting “send”.

  • Or (and this one clobbers me) maybe I should pause before ranting to someone in my circle of friends who I know will agree, in the spirit of not starting an argument.


The kindest, wisest thing we can do is approach our leaders with some scripture research to support our argument, and/or well-thought-out questions, rather than pass our feelings off as fact. But do it in love, as the Bible teaches. It plays a small but important role in keeping the church unified. Because I know from my own experience that our pastors, teachers, and elders would love to have a mutually respectful discussion or email exchange with you about your concerns. It may be why they got into the ministry in the first place.


From my seat in ministry, I see our pastors and teachers as having dual citizenship. They are servants of God, but they are also husbands, fathers and sons, who have to make a living, and they’re doing it in a fishbowl. Don't they deserve a safe place to fulfill all those roles, without them having the fear of opening their emails each morning?



Finally, in case you are concerned, and contrary to popular belief, my purple laptop has not been able to hack into our staff member’s email accounts. Or the sound booth. And nobody, church staff or otherwise, asked me to write this. These words flow out of pure conviction. When I’m certain that the Holy Spirit is knocking at my consciousness, I need to obey it.


Sending an angry email to my pastor should never be one of them.



Submission in any form is always a sticky word, but as we go through the rest of 2 Corinthians and beyond, I challenge all of us to think beyond our biases and preconceived notions and take these sermons, delivered by flawed human beings, and ask the Holy Spirit what, indeed, the point is.


Your Pastor will thank you.


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8 Comments


Guest
May 05

Good reminder to pray for our pastors and show the same grace, mercy, and kindness to them as God gives to us.

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Guest
May 05

With the large amount of burn out, it’s important to support and encourage our pastors and other church leaders.

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Carol Apgar
Carol Apgar
Apr 26

Janet - you have the gift of weaving biblical truth with a bit of wit! And that is always appreciated. You have given me something to "chew" on. I am a big believer in waiting for at least 24 hours before hitting that send email. I cannot count how many of those have gone into the correct file drawer AKA the trash. :)

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Janet Richey
Janet Richey
Apr 28
Replying to

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. This was a team effort, and this piece would not have been the same without your support and input.

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Mike Bongo
Mike Bongo
Apr 26

Another great post Janet! I'm going to go ahead and take some "inspirational credit" for this one! [Patting myself on the back!] As I stated in our email exchanges this week, you are a tremendous blessing in my life, and in the life of our church family! I'm so grateful to God for your well-written, thoughtful posts. Keep up the good work!

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Janet Richey
Janet Richey
Apr 28
Replying to

Thanks, Jim. Your support is invaluable.

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