As I often tell my friends, I spent the next two years, two months, two weeks, two days, and too long as Pastor of the little, but "perfect" church. Although with the exception of one sermon/teaching session, I never felt so empowered by God's Spirit; I was clearly anointed. Even though the church was truly blessed (by some power, and not necessarily God), it was a spiritual disaster. One hundred thousand dollars in the bank, new facilities, paved and striped parking, a church which had at one time twenty-six deacons, was almost totally void of evidence that believers attended. With a congregation of about sixty or so, one might wonder why so many deacons. First of all, nearly all had either died or had ceased to be a part of the church (I buried three the first five weeks I was Pastor). It seems that my predecessor had the philosophy that in order to "keep the money in the church," he ordained all of the men. Hard to believe, but true; he told me himself.
Ironically, the next two plus years were spent dealing with fights over the furniture the deacons ordered to convert the Youth classroom into a deacon's room; the "roomless" and leaderless Youth; whether or not the Pastor had embarrassed the church by buying a washer and dryer for a needy family (with my own money, I need add); etc. instead of over "tongues." As far as I can remember, the subject never came up again following my "triumphal entry." I had succeeded in redirecting the contentious focus of both factions against me. You know, the way to unite people is with a common goal, or a common enemy: I was apparently to become the latter. The "final straw" came when, at a "business meeting," a huge debate ensued over whether or not to give our custodian a pay advance to help him catch up on his child-support. The true nature of the majority reared its ugly head, resulting in both the Janitor and the new Youth/Music minister walking out, never to return. Just as I imagine Peter would do, my following sermon threw down the gauntlet: either our "team" was going to have to start playing as one, or they needed to get a new "coach." As is usually the case, the "team" remained and the "coach" was liberated!
It would be nice if I could say that it was the work of the Spirit described in 1 Corinthian 13 that had prevented the church split, but I am not sure either faction knew of the chapter between the two on the Holy Spirit. It was as though they had studied tongues on the left (chapter twelve), tongues on the right (chapter fourteen), and nothing in between (perhaps they were triskaidekaphobic). I wish that church had been unique or an exception to the norm, but unfortunately the Church, pictured by Paul as the Body of Christ, has splintered so many times that I often believe most Bibles had omitted the chapter altogether. Instead of being knit together as one, "arms" seem to be insisting everyone else "has to be an arm" or they are not saved. It would almost be laughable if it were not for the fact that the exact same problem plagued the Corinthians (12:12-31). Not much has changed over the past two thousand years. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will focus upon the "love chapter." Pray for me.