Monday, August 13, 2007

Family Meetings (Edited)

Edited previous post.
As I re-read, I found that it was possible to read that I was attacking some. The question below is the intent of my previous post, and is more direct and to the point.


Can you imagine having a family dinner, that fails to ever address any one individual directly? Or a dinner in which no names are ever used? It would be so odd to be sitting around a table, listening to others talk about each other, referencing actions and questions of others, without ever using personal pronouns.

If you've ever spent time with me in Aces, Crossroads, or Community, I imagine that you were fairly comfortable having someone personally addressed in service. How many times have we openly talked about Brian's weekend excursions or jail time? We pray for Jake before he goes to court, and I do whatever is necessary to avoid praying for, "the anonymous one who is undergoing struggles."

I'm curious as to what other's thoughts are regarding being personal in church. Does it make the experience more like a real family gathering or less? Does it strip away the religiosity or add to it?

12 comments:

Kari Rodems said...
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Ryan said...
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Kari Rodems said...
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Kari Rodems said...

Hey Ryan,
Thanks for your thoughtful consideration of how some may have viewed your previous post and for opting to revise it. Enjoy camp - grace peace and hope, Kari

Debbie Evans said...

Oh Ryan…I have been thinking about your original post since yesterday. I am bothered by your analogy in painting this as a Family Dinner experience in which no names are ever used. (Is that sarcastic humor using the Saturday Evening Post?) It has the appearance of white washing (a deliberate downplaying of a problem) what transpired. A family gathering to dialog with one another, yet submitting themselves to the leadership of the family’s rules of engagement, because there are very real and legitimate concerns about the direction that a beloved sibling is heading is a more accurate picture to me.

To assume, your choice of word, (I don’t like that word because it has a propensity to mislead) that we felt uncomfortable because we don’t have a connection to those people or not part of the family or don’t have a vested interest in one another lives is not accurate either. Many who were present consider themselves to be a part of the family and were present because this is a family affair. Yes, I was uncomfortable, saddened, and feelings of grief in my gut, but not because I was a friend visiting a friend when their Family Meeting was called…and No, I didn’t need my parents to come pick me up early…I stayed…I am family. I have those feelings because family rules were broken, family members were injured, and the family went away without a resolution. I love this family.

In your biological family, have you never felt uncomfortable, saddened, or even grief when you’ve witnessed a sibling, or even a friend, being reprimanded and/or punished, whether justly or unjustly? Yes, these things all happen in families and when families reconcile the wrongs then healing can take place. When families do not insecurity & doubt grows, trust fades away, and the family becomes fractured.

As to personally addressing people in service depends on the context of how it is used and whether the person you will address is made aware that they will be addressed. Telling the person ahead of time that you will address them during service shows respect and may help quell offending the person.. I think you walk a narrow line when you do this and you will end up, at one time or another, of offending your the person (your sibling in Christ) and/or a young emergent seeker. I know when my sibling tells a story about me to a family gathering, at times it is hurtful to me, it can also appear to be false when they don’t tell the whole story, or it can be funny when I’ve been present to fill in details which were left out.

Communication is good. Thanks for the opportunity to dialog with you.
-Debbie Evan

ATSmith said...

I did feel uncomfortable when people were called on. Honestly, I wanted to hide. My stomach wrenched and my heart pounded ... it seemed like the meeting had taken a turn for the worse when names were starting to be called. And yet, when it was all said and done, I noticed two things:
One: Our pastor is hurting and broken. He has been sent enough emails questioning his beliefs and faith in God to bring any one of us to a state of total grief. Have you ever been beaten on and beaten on until you just want to stand up for yourself? And sometimes that means getting honest ... and open ... and that hurts. The second thing I noticed was that an elder of our church left during the more hairy part of the service -- but all the other elders stayed by Paul's side, or at least up front.
So, while the meeting didn't achieve what it was supposed to -- understanding fully the direction of our church and what the heck the Emergent Movement is all about, it did achieve a couple things for me: We should now be fully aware that Paul is at a low and weak point and he is not steel and cannot stand up to the endless insults and accusations. We are all human, and none of us deserve the grace given us by God. Secondly, if there are leadership in our church who clearly do not support the other elders or the pastors, and they are allowed to remain in leadership -- then I am just confused.
So, I did want to run and hide, but God takes crap and molds it to his liking, as I am sure he will do with all of this mess. I cried all morning finally understanding the Apostle Paul's pained heart as he wrote to the many churches regarding division. We are not alone in these problems -- they are age-old. But it doesn't make them any less painful.
p.s. Good job editing the post. The edited version allows for more discussion.

Ryan said...

Great addition to the conversation Debbie. You, Kari, and obviously Amber, have been extremely helpful in assisting me to see this event through other's eyes. Thank you for taking the time to think about the post and to comment. It's great that through the blog I can grow. :-)

mary reynolds said...
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mary reynolds said...

Hi Ryan,
This is my third try, and I hope I remember everything I wrote.
First of all I hope your having a great time up at Hume with your family and all the kids are doing great. (remember to keep an eye on that Emily, shes crazy for Hume!!)
I'm praying all goes will and you all experience God @ Hume, one of His most beautiful places.

So, my experience on last Sundays Meeting was tough, to watch and come home with no answers for my husband and crying trying to tell him about it,I had to wait to let it all sink in.
First, I had several people asking me about what I thought about the church messages and if I've ever heard of the Emerging Church? Well, needless to say I could not give my opinion because I had not been to church for the past 2 months, and I guess thats when the Emerging church contoversy started. So friends kind of updated me and gave me printed info on the issues of the Emerging Church, and what I read was very disturbing.
So I did attend last Sundays service and Jim Geyslers message was great, and I was glad to see him be the mediator, or whatever the title is, of the meeting.
Though I felt like the tension was high and it was uncertain how to go about this meeting. I thought that the majority of the people were there to find out if OVCC was heading in the Emerging Church direction?
My observation was, here the Elders sat down in front, looking uncomfortable and looked as if they wish they were not there and hurry up and get this over with. And just sitting there not saying anything would imply to me that they were there to support all that you were to talk about, and be there to answer questions. Only Ed, attempted to answer before all the questions were in and Jim asked him to wait.
It would have been better if the Elders had sat up behind the Pulpit, in the choir section and stand and circle you and Paul, and Jim and prayed with hands on for the meeting. Then quickly introduce themsleves and maybe even give a stance on where they stood in regards to the EMerging Church.
A small handout on the Emerging Chruch explaining some issues what it is about and why the OVCC would consider going this way, or that this is the direction you are heading.
I really feel the majority of the people came just for that info, the Emerging Church, and rather that going over other questions and keeping that one for the Grand Finale, that never happened, was were the meeting failed. The main question was never addressed and answered, and a concrete answer needs to be implimented, then family members can decide where they want to be, in God's Word.
Now, it was a shame to watch Paul start to answer a question that was directed to the Elders, but he went in a different direction eplaining all the past teachings he did and as you watched his veins start to pop and face get tight, I thought, this is not going to be good, its come to a head. I felt bad for Jodi, and Paul, and unfortunately it exploded and that is what the family is going to remember. I felt the Elders should have interveened(sp), and stop Paul, so he could compose while they took over, but I'm not sure what happened except that one of the Elders got up to the pulpit and talked.
As far as the EMerging Church, I did do some research and what I found really disturbs me, for instance here is one site;
www.understandthetimes.org
"The Emerging Church: Another Road to Rome", Commentary be Roger Oakland, just one short paragraph;
"It is not my purpose in writing this commentary to define every aspect of the Emerging Church. In fact it would require several volumes to do so. Even then, some would say that the Emerging Church was not defined properly. The common denominator being promoted is the idea that the time has come for Christianity to be reinvented for our generation. In order to do so, the church must provide the environment and the experiences to attract people. Christianity, the Emerging Church promoters say, must become relevant to our postmodern generation. No longer does reason or God's Word hold the answers to life's questions. Experience must become the key factor to encounter spiritual reality.".....(9 pages on).
The more I read and have checked other sites basically say the same thing, and are moving away from the authority of God's Word. I am not interested in this ,and God's Word is the only way, the truth.
I pray that the Elders and Pastors can be up front and honest with a Solid answer to the Family if this is the direction they are going.

Now,to answer the question on being personal in church make more like a real family gathering?
I did experience being singled out by name at a service and not prepared and it was very uncomfortable. You had asked out loud if Mary Reynolds was here (and I thought, oh oh, what is he going to say, is it a compliment?) and that she would not let Emily have a MySpace site, and you went on with your message. Well, it was embarassing, getting looks like I wonder why she wont let her?, the problem is; its one sided, in a Family situation you get to respond, I would of loved to responded and said I felt it was a unsafe site, and since then it has improved security, not just anyone can entered your MySpace unless you invite them, before it was scarey. Anyways, I had a lot of people come up to me and I had to explain why, and I just figured you felt comfortable because I have known you for a very long time. I would have rather you called me to inform me for a heads up and that it was ok. Fortunately I am from a large family and we are very close and we critize, laugh, cry , all those things, so I can handle it, but it wasnt comfortable being singled out, without a voice. I think there is a place, and even when you pray for the anonymous one, they know who it is, unless you have contacted them and its ok for them.

Well, I think that is everything, I have written this 3 times, and the account wasnt entered yet, so here I go again, and You are always in my prayers, and I love you and your family. Mary

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thoughts, ability to articualte your mind, and view of the matter at hand. I however though maybe misunderstood your comment as Debbie E. mentioned regarding those who needed to possibly be picked up by a family member and go home (I honestly cannot remember the acutal verbage) but honestly although I consider myself part of the family at OVCC, I as my family, havent known what has been going on for quite some time because physically I havent been able to come and obviously have missed out on what has been going on. I didnt want to be picked up by my parents and go home, I too felt uncomfortable especially not knowing what had transpired with my family while I was gone. Two things I want to add from my point of view... one being that possibly from a spritual standpoint I feel this could be satans way of getting into the church...by creating a ruckus among a family ,which is so likeh him. Just my take though. Two reading the posts caused to think about what similar things ( although to a greater degree) Jesus went thru himself...preaching the gospel which he believed which was the truth as we as christians know) it swelled inside him and he felt a great amount of emotion of needing to get the Word out. He was treated terribly, insulted and ridiculed, criticized etc etc. I believe in my heart totally and fully and always have that Pastor Paul is preaching with all his heart like Jesus it swells witihn him and pours out, what he believes God is saying and called to do...whether it is truth is not my place to say. I know like others am saddened by what we came back to find occuring in our "home", uncomfortable and wondering with concern if now when I am able will I and my husband be able to come away with spiritual food to help us what is going on with our world. We like many others are going thru much tribulation when we leave the grounds of OVCC,and are starving for the things Pastor Paul has given us thru his sermons.
I am and will always be accepting of others views and opinions and hope people know that about me...I will listen and be slow to speak and not become angered even if I dont share same views.
Obviosuly we walked into a great ordeal going on but I truly believe God will lead us to truth whatever it may be and hopefully there can be peace in the times to come. For whatever its worth, I will keep praying for the things needed to move forward, the people involved and am so glad there can be diaologue; hopefully not division, and peace among the family, selfishy my family needs it and I so desire it anyways. Love to all and God bless... Lisa Graham

Ryan said...

Mary, ah yes, the myspace escapade. I think that it's tougher for me than I thought to bounce between community and ovcc. In community, one is expected to be called on, unannounced, to make an announcement, be used as an illustration, or to give an account of life style decisions. It becomes the "norm" in commmunity, and as I walk across the quad I don't always adjust my expectations. I think my task now is to know what are style and method differences to be respected and left unchanged, and what, (if any) uncomfortable challenges and changes will assist us growing into the body that God wants us to be.

Anonymous said...

Sadness is what enters my heart as I read these comments, especially after thinking for a few days about what I witnessed on Sunday at your church. I am not really involved in many of the events at this church but I have attended both sides of the "quad". I feel that there is conflict that is not being addressed. Clearly the conflict lies in the unanswered question concerning the emerging part of your direction. It has not been answered whether or not you are heading that direction. From my standpoint you ARE simply because you are not answering the direct question but you seem to be skirting around it; "Look in Wikipedia" or "here is a web site that gives the best answer." These give examples of what the Emerging Church might look like. This is not an answer. There are very Godly things in these that we should be doing such as reaching out to the community, having others over for dinner, and trying to serve the communities needs. MANY organizations fill these parts of the definitions. This church has been doing that "stuff" for years without the label of emerging being put on it. As Paul read the paper that Frank Christenson put out and stated, "He could be right out of the Emerging Church" because these are things that are Godly. "Emerging" does not have the corner on being Godly.
As for the ending, it was clearly wrong. The rules at the beginning stated that there would not be attacks on individuals as they didn't want a Jerry S. show...Paul broke the rules. After that it was just wrong. If one were to look in at family dinners, often times, conflict does in fact bring out yelling and shouting with results sometimes being that one, or many, walk out. Sometimes the conflict is resolved at another time and sometimes family members move on. I personally NEVER want to be addressed in public at church no matter what. That is not what I go to church for. And, I don't hang out all of my dirty laundry for all of my family to see either. I bet Paul and Kathy don't either, although they are "family". Some things are private and should be held in confidence.
So, back to the conflict at hand. Why isn't the real conflict question being addressed?