Things That Are Not Okay
Adventism. It’s a phrase that makes many proud. Mostly, it makes me sad. Then mad. Then depressed. Over… and over… and… I’m sick of being sick of my denomination.
It used to make me feel like I was part of something big. Something important. Something that mattered. That was “back in the day"—back before I worked for the church.
That was before I had the audacity to start asking questions.
After I became an employee, part of me felt like I was involved in a bit sham. It was like a pseudo-church, or pseudo-business… not really fully either.
There’s a lot of stuff, both good and bad, that I would never have known about the Adventist denomination had I not become an employee, rather than a pew-sitter. Stuff that other pew-sitters can’t believe. Stuff they don’t want to believe. Stuff they want to pretend doesn’t exist.
I’ve worked for the church in various capacities, in various offices and around various people with all kinds of job descriptions. The days of being an oblivious pew-sitter are long gone for me. I’m giving you the option to become an informed pew-sitter, without having to become a church employee.
Caution, by reading on you may burst your bubble of pew-sitting bliss…
If I had never been hired by the Adventist church…
- I wouldn’t have known about administrative perks that have been doled out to board members such as free iPads or trips to Hawaii.
- I never would have seen hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands and finally millions of tithe dollars and donations wasted like congregants were undrainable ATM machines.
- I wouldn’t have known that the church is full of politics and politicians whose cunning and ruthlessness I’d only expect from the most debauched of the Washington set—not from "Christians” paid via believer’s hard-earned money. My tithe money. Your tithe money. God’s tithe money. I wouldn’t have—couldn’t have—imagined them roaming the halls that tithe built… with not so much as a term limit to put a blessed end to their reign.
- I wouldn’t have known that elections for church offices are basically rigged. I wouldn’t have known that pew-sitters don’t get to vote; that’s reserved for special delegates. I wouldn’t have known that the delegates are only shown “the facts” that previously elected officials want them to see, and even then have a minuscule amount of time to make a decision. I wouldn’t have known how little debate actually takes place, how little transparency there is, how much spin gets spun. I wouldn’t have known that my denomination gives a whole new meaning to making a calling and election sure.
- I wouldn’t have known about a person who has pitched many high-dollar ideas to the North American Division, had them funded, and became personally enriched by church funds.
- I wouldn’t have known that wealthy individuals often call the shots behind the scenes. I wouldn’t have known that things often get done like this: “I’ll give you all this money if you’ll do what I want with it. If not, it’s going somewhere else.”
- I wouldn’t have known that there is a business side to the Adventist organization and that this business side is basically run by pastors. I knew pastors were trained to be theologians… I never knew we were empowering and trusting them to be CEOs.
- I wouldn’t have known about a treasurer who stood up to a “President” only to be forced out for speaking his mind; for having a conviction. I wouldn’t have known that people who express opinions, who ask questions, who think different are forced out all the time. I wouldn’t have known that being an employee and being able to think for yourself aren’t fully compatible.
- I wouldn’t have known about all of the pastors out there whose greatest dream is to become a Conference, Union or Division “President.” I wouldn’t have known that any pastor, much less many pastors, would want to hop onto a corporate ladder that leads down, rather than up; down to the heights of power and further and further from a congregation.
- I wouldn’t have known… lots of disgusting, gut-wrenching things the likes of which I can’t type here. At least not now.
These items, the things that I’ve just listed, they’re nothing new. And there’s far worse that has happened, is happening and will continue to happen right within our beloved denomination. It’s just that you won’t know about any of it. There’s just no transparency.
Pew-sitters don’t know what they don’t know. It’s not their fault, really. But it will be their fault if they don’t do something about it.
This is the kind of stuff that many pew-sitters don’t want to know about, because, sadly, too many pew-sitters are happy in The Matrix. They like their pretend, fluffy world where the church is perfectly acceptable—perfectly—no matter what. Their church can do no wrong.
When the church does wrong it’s ignored. Excuses are made. It’s like nothing bad ever happened. Church “leaders” act as if there is no Earthly accountability—because historically in our church, there hasn’t been. And if there’s no Earthly accountability, why should we expect anything to get done and done properly?
How, pew-sitters, can you live in with such a church? If you lower your standards for the church, aren’t you lowering them for God?
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Want to get your friends involved in the discussion? Here are a few intriguing title suggestions you can use to get their attention on social media.
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