Our most recent post regarding the David Wisen letter elicited a comment from a reader that struck us as a wise and grace filled response the the MacDonald crisis that we thought it was worth putting up as an independent post, as opposed to letting it languish among hundreds of other comments.
We receive emails from members inquiring about steps forward after reading this site, and this letter she wrote seems to strike the right tone that it should serve as a model to those asking, “what now?”
Current members: Last night, after much anguish over many months, we submitted our member resignation, with reasons, to Elders and our campus pastor. We had engaged them in various conversations and attended & posed questions at two Congregational Meetings. During our decade-plus tenure, we have been well-apprised of every criticism and change (however subtle), but we chose to stay for the people and because we believed & hoped (falsely) that our campus would become a plant. This website’s information aside, there is much that is problematic about what is happening and has happened based on the Elder Updates and responses at Congregational Meetings alone.
We have told staff and friends at Harvest about our resignation and that we will gladly share our reasons and/or our letter with them. We are grieved to leave but are not ashamed–nor do we think that it’s right or “Biblical” to not tell people that you’ve served with and love why you are leaving a church.
In our brief letter, we made straightforward statements about why we are resigning memberships–the primary reasons being related to governance, lack of member voice, the senior pastor’s use of Scripture, stewardship of finances, and the handling of the HBF dissolution. Our leaders, including our campus Elders, have been kind in listening to us and have respected our decision, despite our disagreements. Thank you, Lord, for that!
Like others, I do believe that action can provoke changes at HBC. But, in the current structures and considering our desire to be truthful & loving, there are only so many options. To our knowledge, we are the second longer-time serving members at our campus to leave recently, although there may be others. (It’s hard to know with three services over two days and when people are discouraged from the pulpit and elsewhere to avoid taking with one another about the church or the leaders.)
It hurt, but I had to let go of my pride & arrogance in thinking that we alone could change hearts and minds. God WILL do it…in His time and in His way. There’s a 99% chance that it will not be in the ways I’m hoping for. (Admittedly, I may be hoping for the wrong things.) In the meantime, we are “releasing” our minds, emotions, and spirits by choosing not be at a church where we can longer submit to the authority or teaching.
I urge members who are leaving to let your pastors know first, then to submit their reasons in writing to the Elder Board, and also to let others know that you have resigned membership. Leaving without telling anyone, without saying why, or without saying the real reasons (e.g., “we feel like God is calling us to…”) isn’t helpful, or truthful, or loving. If there is a significant decline in attendance or giving attributable to members’ dissatisfaction with events and decisions, it’s better that it can be explicitly linked rather than left to guesswork or excuses. Stay away from citing things that you might “know” but are hearsay. If you must elaborate or support your reasons, stick to citing communications from the church that you’ve read, your own interactions, your own conversations & experiences in meetings, and your own perspective in “the pews” listening to the messages.
For those who are staying, we pray that you will not be bitter toward those who have accessed the same information, discerned it for themselves, and see it differently. I pray that we will be as gracious to you.
Finally, people who know me/us may be critical that I posted at all on this website and in this Comments section. But consider this: TED is not some e-tabloid with no credibility whatsoever. The site “lives on” because there is no voice for the HBC member. No forum or mechanism for ongoing feedback & input. Only periodic chances to “ask questions” at large group meetings as leaders try to react to and manage a crisis. So, that’s something for current and future members & leaders to consider, if they’re reading this. May God forgive me if my heart is the wrong place and I have sinned in posting here.
Looking forward to Christ’s return, and to the “new Earth,” when church will be perfect. 🙂