The Good News/The Hmmm News

Saturday, 28 November 2009

"Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

The Good News:

The good news isn't so much that Glenn McDonald resigned as pastor of the big 2000 seater Zionsville Presbyterian Church in Indiana, USA. (Though that could probably only ever be a good thing from my personal perspective but hey, that's just me). The good news was the transparency he displayed in his leaving. As painful as it may be, it is good to draw attention to the emperor's lack of clothes - especially if it's your bum that's hanging out the back of your non-existent robe.

The truth is that no pastor can perform the job that they are asked to do if the people surrounding them box them into what the system expects of pastors - being Jesus to everybody, and Superman to the rest. This is what happens when the system puts you on your little pedestalled ratwheel - start running. And keep running, it turns out, basically for everybody else except your wife, as ex-pastor Brad Cummings points out in the latest God Journey podcast (see below).

Glenn described the reason for his resignation as idolatry:

McDonald said he had committed the sin of idolatry by allowing the business of running a big church and the desire to please his congregation -- rather than God -- to become the focus of his work. The result, he said, was the mind-set of a workaholic who neglected his wife and his family and his own personal spiritual connection to God for the sake of the day-to-day machinery of the ministry.

... "You can make a church grow. It can meet its budget," he said. "People can be happy and full of ministries, and you can do it all without prayer, without ever checking in with God."

... He took a leave of absence this fall and entered a Seattle-area clinic for people with addictions. "In my case," he said, "it was for somebody who feels he had to keep pedaling the bicycle at all hours of the day and never stops."
From 'Zionsville pastor says he's quitting to refocus,' by Robert King,

The Hmm News:

The church will soon begin the process of finding a replacement.
I feel hmmm about that statement. My cynicism says that things will continue on as they were, because some will not see there is a problem, because they will be powerless to change what is totally within their power to change because they will not believe they can. And in the process of that people will continue to objectify the ones they are called to love, all in the name of serving the system.

I wonder how many people in that giant 2000 person church would dare to do things differently if they were to listen to and take on board the truth spoken by one of the cogs. I wonder how many would care enough. I pray that maybe they will, because with God all things are possible, right? I pray that they will choose to put their care for each other as church as paramount, over and above the thing they are serving that we call "church".

I just hope that if nothing changes, that the next incumbent is not like the poor dude who could not see any other way out than this.

HT to Brad and Wayne, two ex-cogs in the pastor machine who I greatly respect for their willingness to follow after truth wherever it may go. They spoke about these two pastors above on the lastest God Journey podcast. All of the thoughts shared here I have really just vomited up from listening to them :)


  1. I wish this pastor the best. I wonder how many people will find a new church because they were there because they wanted him as a pastor. I know that happens is some mega churches, seen it happen here. Good post as always, Q.

  2. Classic. I wish things would change faster. The pastor-as-one-man-band model has to go.

  3. That took great strength and a great desire for God to even do this!

    But I am saddened and I wonder how many of his "flock" will simply feel he has lost his way instead of finding the way....

  4. Barbara - yes, I wonder about that too. What else would be the drawcard for going somewhere that has so many people? But then, maybe that impersonality is a drawcard for some - can fade into the background etc. Just the thought of going to one of those places makes my stomach turn over. Yuk.

    Erin - yeah, me too. It's so unfair on the person who gets sucked into it (especially when they are probably doing it with good intentions but then their ego gets so stroked).

    Tyler - I agree. It did take so much strength, didn't it. It's always inspiring to see. And yeah, which makes the possible/probable blindness and refusal of the others to see what's going on because too inconvenience even worse. Sigh. What a crappy culture for a bunch of people to NOT love and care for each other the way that would change everything. It sucks.


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