“What if you found out that the principal had denied access to the gay/straight alliance because of some technicality… a rule the Christian club broke all the time? Would you take a stand for the gay/straight alliance? They have the right to meet at the school under the same rules that give the Christian group rights to meet.“ I asked this question to a senior pastor friend of mine over a cup of coffee. The conversation got to this point when he asked me why I was always standing up for the little guy. I told him that our role as Christian leaders was to help others seek justice to which he replied, “Well, some things deserve justice and equality while others don’t.”
And Christians wonder why some people hate them?
Let me share a few reasons why I think more Christian leaders don’t stand up to bullies:
1. They are wimps. Somewhere in all of our education we are taught to never fight the system, just to submit to the ruling authority, and smile at old ladies on Sunday mornings. I’ve met far too many church leaders whose only leadership skill is diplomacy. Diplomacy is great. But the desire to negotiate is worthless if no one takes you seriously. Just because you are a church leader doesn’t mean you have to be a pansy.
2. They have horrible theology. In the above discussion you see it played out. That church leader was only interested in standing up for the Christian group. No one else in the community matters to him because they don’t directly benefit him. (Directly, meaning he doesn’t see the connection between justice and church growth!) You know, Jesus and his disciples only ever stood up for the religious folks, right? Just ask the woman at the well and that woman about to be stoned when caught having sex.
3. They are afraid of their churches. Good Lord, imagine what would happen if the senior pastor actually stood up against injustice in his community! I mean, what would the board say? I mean… if I don’t do what they say I could lose my job! (See #1 & #2)
4. Their worldview is jacked up. I could ask the pastor above if he was an absolutist or a graded-absolutist and he’d swear oaths to Josh McDowell that he was walking the absolutist straight and narrow. But based on how he answered the question above you’d see that he’s really a relativist. (gasp) He’d stand up for the Christian groups right to meet at a local high school because he agrees with them. But because he doesn’t agree with gay/straight alliance, he wouldn’t. Relativism in action. So what’s good for one group isn’t good for another, right pastor?
5. Their priorities are out-of-order. The last cop-out I hear all the time is, “I’m so busy running the church.” Too many who work in churches are so worried about running the programs of the church that they forget their place in society. Think about it… most pastors make horrible neighbors. They are too busy to be a part of the community, they use their house as a meeting location, and they are preaching all the time that you should love your neighbor despite the fact that they don’t know their own neighbors names or love them one bit. It shocks me that the way evangelical churches operate that they are so out-of-balance with the community’s need.
I know these are generalizations. And I know that people think that if they can dismiss one single point with a specific example they can dismiss all that I’m saying. Please don’t lose the point of the post by disagreeing with a single generalization. The point is that if you want to be a Christian leader in your community, you don’t need the title of pastor. What you need to do is look deeply at what’s going on, expose injustices, speak out for the weak and poor among you, and stand up to bullies. Whether that’s a school board, a government official, a nasty neighbor, a gang, the big donor at church pulling the strings, or even some bullies picking on kids as they walk to school.
Jesus is a big fan of justice, are you?