The Thin Green Line

This post is dedicated to every Adventist employee. But even if—make that especially if—you’ve never been employed by the church, you need to read this post. You don’t know what you don’t know.

I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff as a church employee, but this… this is… evil, corrupted.

If you take a dollar bill and turn it on it’s side, the thickness of that bill constitutes the thin green line. It’s the line that Adventists employees who aren’t robots (and even those who are) know they cannot cross and still remain employees.

It’s the seemingly insignificant, yet maliciously and ridiculously powerful line that effectively enslaves employees caught between keeping a roof over their heads and speaking their minds. The line between keeping gas in the car and being free to express themselves, free to live up to their potential, free to make a real difference in the world. Free to live their convictions. Free to ask important questions.

See, the truth itself doesn’t mind questions. But the Adventist institution is question averse.

The thin green line is used by the institution to threaten employees into submission. To express thing like, “We’ll give you what you deserve, depending on your attitude.” Well, if your attitude isn’t their attitude, congratulations, you’ve crossed the thin green line.

Need to pay rent next month? Don’t cross the thin green line. Need to eat next week? Don’t suggest new ideas. Are your clothes looking ratty and worn? Better not get creative. Think there could be a better, more cost-effective way to evangelize the first-world? If you value possessing your possessions much longer (aka living the life you’re accustomed to), you won’t say a word.

Sadly, many Adventist employees know how hard it is to be an outsider living on the inside.

Anything but sadly, employees aren’t just self-aware of the thin green line. They are shown it, like, “Don’t cross me/us… or else.” Things will be done the “administrator’s” way, whether or not that is God’s way.

The thin green line keeps the powerful in power. It keeps brilliant minds in line (in check, really). It keeps transparency in a chokehold; if you tell the world what you have seen—if you violate the non-disclosure you were forced to sign—you will forfeit your livelihood.

The thin green line is a carrot, dangling in front of all Adventist employees. Pastors not excepted. Actually, the dangling is often done by pastors who have climbed their way through the “administrative” ranks and can now be called “Presidents.”

Many sacrifices are made at the thin green line… but not heroic sacrifices. They aren’t daring and bold sacrifices “for the cause,” but rather sacrifices for personal safety and well-being.

Many an Adventist employee has asked, “How can this be a Christian organization?” Well, employes. the proof is in the pudding. Matthew 7:16. Actions speak louder than words.

Does it really make sense for a Christian to ever be put in a situation where they can destroy another human being’s, much less a fellow Christian’s, life? Whatever the reasoning or circumstance? Do Christians have any business being in business? Hiring and firing?

“Administrators” are keen to tell employees when they have crossed a line. But in reality it is the “administrators” themselves, and the institution they serve, have done the line crossing. They have abused money: either weilding it like a weapon or wasting it. They have polluted purity with putrid politics and power. They have become proficiently prejudiced against younger generations and against anyone isn’t a clone manufactured at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews.

Don’t let “administrator’s” attempt to fool you with their excuses fool you. This is wrong. This is bad. And not just for Adventist employees…

 It Also Affects The Pew-Sitters

I don’t know about you, but I want to hear people preach, and pray, because they are passionate. I don’t want to hear pastors pandering behind a pulpit that might as well be a prison.

But that’s often what I—you—we—get. Because pastors aren’t entirely free to speak their minds. Say the wrong thing and it’s forced resignation, or outright firing, for you.

And so, pew-sitters, we hear the same kind of thing week after week. And sermons continue to focus on the outward, because to gaze, even honestly, inward and observe is treason.

And now your pastor is caught between serving God and serving the church. That can tear a person up inside. The church makes it plain to pastors that it could either take them or leave them. They are optional. There are more where they came from. Someone is always happy to climb the ladder. But the denomination itself is not optional. It’s “going through” no matter what.

Think about this: are pastors pastors because it’s their job—or because of a higher calling? Could it possibly be both?

The Adventist church finds itself in a perverse situation. Where the church isn’t reaching it’s full potential. Where it’s usefulness has reached a limit. Where people are expected to serve the church rather than expecting the church to serve them. Where “Presidents” have power over pastors and pew-sitters and pew-sitters don’t realize they are the ones empowering “Presidents” to cripple their spiritual experiences.

This is just one way in which the little green line holds the church back from becoming something great—an entity truly worthy of being called Christian. An entity one can be proud of, in Christ, rather than ashamed of.

Isn’t that funny. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But I am ashamed of my denomination.

I’m ashamed that the denomination I have been associated with for so much of my life, have believed in, have worked for, have cared for, have invested in so closely resembles a cartel, or a gang, complete with ringleaders and foot soldiers. Where money and rank rule the day and define the way.

In light of all this, pew-sitters, how can you ever be certain again that the words your pastor speaks each Sabbath are born out of pure conviction as long as they are collecting a pay check? As long as the little green line keeps them in check? As long as they aren’t entirely free to speak their mind?

Perhaps it would be better to attend a church service helmed by volunteers. People with nothing to lose, gain or prove.

Show me a church where money doesn’t matter and we’ll see reformation. Or be staring revolution right in the eyes.

Had I never been hired by the church, I’d only know what I was told—what I was allowed to know, as a pew-sitter.

That’s why this blog exists.

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