Shaun King’s Warning to the Church
On Tuesday the Internet Monk’s Chaplain Mike shared his thoughts on Shaun King’s resignation from Courageous Church in Atlanta. This was the first that I had heard about it, and I have spent the last couple of days reading more about what is going on there. Courageous Church is in for a tough season, we need to be praying for them over the coming months: losing a pastor is hard, but I would have to imagine that hearing that pastor say he no longer believes they are doing church the right way is like getting kicked in the gut.
What intrigued me the most about the whole story was a blog post by Rai King, Shaun’s wife, sharing a grittier version of why they are leaving the church. Reading her post, I felt it. I know the frustration that she speaks of, the exhaustion, and the loneliness that sometimes comes with being in church leadership. Three distinct thoughts came to mind while reading her post:
- The Cool Church. Being the cool church is hard work. The effort that needs to go into developing a cutting edge Sunday morning experience is more than most churches can afford or desire to invest. Churches that make the required investment have an ever increasing standard which they are required to meet or exceed, or else people lose interest and start to look for other ways to spend their time. I learned long ago, while serving in the New York City area, that there is nothing that I can produce program wise that will compete with all that is available in New York City. What I needed to focus on was communicating the message of Christ in a way that is excellent and engaging, and providing a space for authentic, Christ inspired relationship..
- Ministry Wives. Ministry wives have it rough. They see some of the darkest sides of the church, experience all the frustrations of leadership, and often do not have the ability to speak into the problems, or have a safe place to vent. Churches need to be intentional in the way they care for the families of their pastors, and we as pastors need to be far more aware of how we feed into their frustrations with the church.
- Stepping it Down. The era of the mega-church has been upon us for about thirty years or so now. Televangelists, TV networks, and the internet have created ways for people to take part in a church service without really being a part of the church, and this has carried over into the life of the traditional church. The idea of going to church on Sunday, singing a few songs, saying a few Amens, and listening to a well crafted sermon before going home until the next Sunday has become mainstream. A radical departure from this mindset generally does not end well (just ask Shaun). What we need to be thinking through is how to gradually step our society back from this mindset, and return to a more holistic faith mindset that focuses less on production quality, and more on genuine life change in the people we are called to serve.
While I don’t have any hard facts to back this up, this kind of disenfranchisement among pastors who were leading “successful” churches seems to be happening more and more. I am wondering if we shouldn’t sitting up and taking notice of this as a warning to the church, and what we should be learning from this.
What do YOU think… is this a growing trend, a random occurrence, or a warning that the church needs to pay attention to?