If by politics, we mean communicating, negotiating, and even persuading each other… well, those are good things. It makes sense to engage in them because a church depends on people working together in a mature, respectful fashion. In the best circumstances, there can be disagreement, flared tempers, and hurt feelings but they are resolved when people practice open, caring communication.
However, when we speak of church politics, we usually refer to those who gossip and manipulate to get their way. Some are looking to impede change. Others entertain themselves by assassinating the reputation of persons. Then there’s that special cadre dedicated to undermining the preacher with the ultimate goal being to get rid of him or her. Sometimes these people cling to leadership positions; others prefer to stay hidden, doing their work with whispered conversations.
Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t ignore them. I also couldn’t negotiate with them because they couldn’t tolerate the openness of honest discussion. As a result, I spent too much energy protecting myself and others. It was easier when leadership protected me but that meant they couldn’t focus their energy on anything else either.
Every church I’ve known since childhood has this dysfunctional element. Every minister I know describes similar dysfunctions. No wonder membership continues to decline–although they’re not the only reason for it.
To the surviving handful of people who tried so hard to get rid of me over the last three decades, feel free to claim your victory. Congratulations… I’m out. However, I didn’t leave because of you.
I’m out but I’m not done. I have more to say.