So far our “ice storm of the century” is underwhelming. We have about 1/4 inch of ice, and the streets currently are passable. I wouldn’t care to take a walk down our slippery driveway, though. We don’t do salt or ice melt at our house. Not out of any grand environmental concerns; we’re just lazy bastards.
Anywhoo…the forecast, at least, is all I could ask for. Freezing rain and ice pellets beginning again late tonight (Saturday) and continuing into the day on Sunday.
And why is a Sunday morning ice storm a good thing, you might ask? Or you might not, depending on how bored you are so far with my tale.
Because I work for a fairly large church. And this forecast means a pretty good chance we’ll cancel worship tomorrow, to avoid broken bones in congregants making their way from the parking lot into the building. And that’s where the issues of faith come in. Now we get a little more serious. Because the idea of not having church tomorrow pleases me to no end.
I’ve been a full-time, paid lay minister in this congregation for 12 1/2 years, as Director of Children’s Ministry. My job description? Anything that has to do with families having children ages birth to 6th grade. And anything else I need to do to keep the congregation in good shape. Assisting with worship planning. Writing devotions for adults. Creating a system for keeping needed supplies in the building stocked. Creating and implementing a protection policy for children and the adults who work with them. Serving on teams that do work completely unrelated to children and families.
In other words, I know the workings of the congregation, its pastors, and its lay-leadership inside and out. I’ve seen behind the curtain.
And I don’t like what I see. In fact, I’m fed up with what I see. It’s become so negative in the past year it’s a cause for constant stress and anxiety. I’ve had more confrontational conversations in the last year, trying to deal with some of the crap I’m seeing, than I’ve had in my entire lifetime. Confrontations, for this introvert, put my stress level way over 100%.
A good friend, who has also spent much of her life working in ministry, asked me recently if everything I’ve been dealing with at church is affecting my faith and my relationship with God.
Answer: No. Not at all. God and I are cool. God has absolutely nothing to do with the nasty bullshit going on behind the scenes in our congregation. (FYI, nothing prurient or illegal – just seriously wrong, as in deception, lack of communication, and extremely non-Christian behavior.) Everything that’s going on is purely due to human error.
But the end result is that I have a very difficult time at this point engaging in my work, knowing what I know. I have to put on a good face for most people, be the cheerleader for an institution I believe in less and less every day. Individually, most of our program staff members do amazing, Christ-centered work. As a whole, it’s a sham.
If I could change careers I definitely would. And, to be honest, I would be unlikely to attend any church for a very long time. But I’m responsible for half our family’s income and all our health insurance. For now I’m stuck. Currently I don’t see a way out.
Working in ministry, I’ve read plenty of pieces over the years about the damage done to so many people by churches. Generally those are stories about people being beaten over the head by some narrow definition of religion: gay people told they’re sinful; women told they’re value-less. This cold, hard truth about much of Christianity makes me ill.
My situation is entirely different. One thing I can say with pride about our congregation is that we’re progressive and affirming. Nonetheless, I, too have been damaged by organized religion.
So…no church tomorrow? Time to celebrate!
And there you have it. How our ice storm and issues of faith are related. Thanks for listening.