Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Things I Think, by the Rev. Michael Newnham

The other day, I was thinking about the organizational narcissism of Grace Church under Dysfunctional Bob. Specifically, the church imposes no accountability on Dysfunctional Bob when he doesn’t do his job, commits perjury, or tries to drag a dying woman into court. It does nothing to address the matter when Dysfunctional Bob, Sugarland Chiow, and the vestry lie to church members, telling them that Mike and I left on our own. And yet members of the parish feel that somehow I have an obligation not to share my experiences or, as one parishioner put it, I “ just need to get a job.”

At about the same time, I came across the following post by the Rev. Richard Newnham, an Anglican priest and noted publisher. (I use Anglican in the sense of belonging to one of the ACNA churches. Thus, while I don’t agree with his overall worldview, I had a very pleasant albeit brief exchange with him via email when I asked for reprint permission.)

The post does an excellent job of correlating abuse of power in churches and the resulting decline in organized religion.

Check it out.

1. I talk a lot about how the “business model” has usurped the “family model” of church governance…the “congregation” has replaced “employees” and they have as much say about how the church is run as the average corporate employee has…none…

2. This is always highlighted when there is some sort of issue or scandal…information and influence (as well as decisions) are cloistered only among the chosen few and control of information is a paramount concern…

3. Controlling information is a primary concern because it serves the ultimate concern…preserving the leadership…

4. It has always struck me as strange that in the place where the importance of truth is held as sacred, that some truths are considered too true for the congregation to know…

5. In business and in church the primary benefits accrue to the “owners” and the employees and congregations are simply means to those ends…

6. I’ve never run a story where I didn’t have to use confidential sources because telling the truth was such a risk to the one speaking truth…some truths are too true for management…

7. I’ve lost count of how many people I’m friends with who can’t take the risk of anyone finding out they’re friends with me…in the church…

8. The “successful” modern pastor is one who can create the illusion of a family that may save him when the business has a scandal…it’s still just an illusion…

9. Pastors who fall betray God and their congregations…the congregations usually then betray each other by standing with the one who has fallen or abused instead of with those abused…

10. I’m guessing that those who have left the church over the abuse of power or people comprise one of the biggest and fastest growing “denominations” in the country…

Find the original post here.