I quit

Credit: Rob Day, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rkday/4162111614/

(Sigh) I’ll just get right to it!

Today I am tendering my resignation as your pastor. This will be my last month with the church as I help the board through the transition process, assuming they still want me to stick around after I finish this sermon.

I realize this news may be a shock to many of you, though perhaps some of you will be relieved that I am stepping down. I have no axe to grind with any particular individual, but I can no longer support a broken institution.

The church’s focus has shifted from following Jesus to supporting an organization. When leading an organization, you have to feed it with increased attendance, finances, and volunteer staffing.

Some of you are diehard supporters of this church and have held sway over it with little regard for those who are uninitiated to its ways. Yet, those are the very people we should be blessing. So, I am casting my lot with them.

As Christians we should be known by our love, not our hate. So, I am trying to love those who have been rejected by the church. Admittedly, I have some catching up to do.

Instead of serving you and providing all kinds of ministries for you, I should have been equipping you to live in the real world where you actively love people like Jesus did. So, I am turning away from pandering those who should know better to simply loving those around me.

In our attempts to be relevant and cool, we have spent thousands of dollars to attract people to this building. We should be going and showing instead of asking people to come and hear. Our “coolness factor” is nothing compared to honesty, acceptance, and love.

The church needs to become the center of the community and actively display Christ’s love through activities that bless the people of the community. It should be the busiest building in town.

When you say, “Just preach the word, brother!” I fear you mean, “Repeat my theology back to me in an intellectual, but understandable manner so I will feel satisfied that I have it right. Then I can look down on the heretics.” I will not do that anymore. I believe in a God who is mysterious and I believe that people should have freedom to ask questions and express doubts.

Instead of trying to make our congregants happy by serving up a smorgasbord of programs, we should be trying to figure how to love the people in our community.

You have expectations of my wife that are far and above that of other members. You tell me when my kids are expressing themselves in normal adolescent ways as though they should be above such. You even want us dress a certain way. I am done playing that game!

I realize my lack of inhibition this morning has likely caused those of you who didn’t like me to change your feelings to something more extreme. That’s up to you. What’s up to me is to not harbor bitterness and to be true to my heart. I am working on both points.

Whatever you think of me, I hope that you love the church and the one who heads it enough consider what I have said today.

After serving as a pastor for over 20 years, Glenn Hager has devoted himself to being an encourager. He is the author of An Irreligious Faith (forthcoming) and blogs at glennhager.com.

Issue 32

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 32, Winter 2013, Thirty more sermons you'd never hear in church.

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