Check out this article from the Wall Street journal about a new trend in churches around the country.
It raises an interesting question. Do churchgoers forfeit rights that we've become accustomed when we enter into a congregation?
"While many Christians find such practices outdated, pastors in large and small churches across the country are expelling members for offenses ranging from adultery and theft to gossiping, skipping service and criticizing church leaders."
I see the point. Don't we all? If a person is acting like a fool consistently, jacking up the service and the holding back the body, shouldn't people be able to kick them out?
But, this is what freaks me out:
"Last week, the pastor of a 6,000-member megachurch in Nashville, Tenn., threatened to expel 74 members for gossiping and causing disharmony unless they repented. The congregants had sued the pastor for access to the church's financial records."
Questioning authority is a major component to being American. I think we can all agree that this is an essential quality. But, does it have a place in the church?
I lean toward a big ole "yes"! With the insane amount of Pastor's "falling from grace" it seems sensible to have a limited amount of trust for people in that position of spiritual power. We must question them. And, I think, we must hold tight to our right to question.
Maybe we should turn to the middle school mantra "what would Jesus do?" Well, I think we can tell what He did. He questioned the religious authority, reserving his harshest words for the Pharisees. So, shouldn't we too hold those above us accountable. Shouldn't they want us to?
This trend illustrates a troubling future for the Protestant church. Reminiscent of the Southern Baptist takeover of the early 90s, it could lead to a change church with unchecked power. Something dangerous both for our spiritual fulfillment and individual journeys.