Would You Go To This Church Where The Pastor Calls Out Members Personally?
Pastors and parishioners alike can be heard bragging all the time about messages that ‘hit close to home’ and preachers who ‘pull no punches.’ These are good things within religious circles, and supposedly everyone appreciates a message that causes him to look at his life and know exactly where changes must be made. However, having gone to church my entire life, it is typical that one hears a message that feels like the speaker was ‘all up in his business’, rather than have someone actually go there.
I read once (and saw re-enacted in King, the miniseries) that Martin Luther King, Sr. would call out some of his members from the pulpit for their shortcomings. Not since then have I seen anything like it, until Pastor Jim Standridge of Skiatook, Oklahoma’s Immanuel Baptist Church took center stage this week.
A few things in the pastor’s defense before his turn to get called out. First of all, working capacities in church (such as working in the sound or video rooms or even taking care of children in the nursery) can, in many cases, serve as a distraction to youth from any actual worship or spiritual enrichment. Second, as Pastor Standridge somewhat notes, part of loving people is to be willing to tell them the truth and that can mean having uncomfortable conversations.
However, while few things cause change quite like shame, when we really love people, we don’t embarrass them or use our position and access to sensitive information to make them feel insecure. These might cause some temporary (or even sustained, in some cases) change, but in many cases, there is corresponding resentment as well.
Finally, sleeping in church happens. It shouldn’t be taken as a personal affront or an affront to God. There’s even at least one instance of it in the Bible!