© 2011 John Casimir O'Keefe

I Need To Vent

Here is something I just figured out, Liberal/Progressive Denominational Leaders are not different in how they abuse people as those who belong to Conservative Demoninations.

Over the past three years I have had dealings with “denominational leaders” and each and every time I go into the meetings with an open heart, very excitement and seeing the possibilities and expressing those possibilities in positive ways. While I could list their names, and the names of the denominations, I am not sure that would do much but make this sound bitter, and I am not trying to be bitter, but I am trying to vent. You see, I made myself a promise a long time back that I would not deal with denominations or denominational leaders, because when I have invested my time and abilities with them, I always walk away feeling abused. But this time I allowed myself to walk in the open door because some of the people who I was talking with were friends, and people I trusted, and that hurts the most. Besides, I figured since they were liberal/progressive denominations I was safe, but I was wrong. It is hard to get the “smack-down” from a friend and I think I may be more upset with myself over this situation.

These “leaders” have contacted me to discuss the possibilities of joining them in ministry and share my views and abilities with others in the denomination – that actually seemed like a very cool thing to do. So, I put my promise aside and decided to open up and have a dialog with them. But what I have found is that they used me, abused me, ignored me and lead me on to think something amazing could happen between us, only to find out that they never intended anything at all from the start of the dialog – what they simply wanted was to “pick my brain” and use what I know to see if it could help them. They wanted my ideas, but I feel as though they never wanted me.

Because of these past three years, I have grown more disillusioned, more disconcerted, more disconnected with denominations each and every day. I am tired of denominations calling me, “wooing” me and spending time with me – just to pick my brain and dump me over the side of the boat like yesterdays garbage. That sounds harsh, but it is amazing how many have done that over this past three years. So while it may sound harsh, it is how I am feeling. There have been so many that it just turns my stomach and the even sadder part is that it makes me feel angry, and I do not like to feel angry. Their actions have actually caused a bitterness to develop in my heart towards denominations and denominational leaders and caused a deep mistrust to develop concerning anything a denominational leader has to say.

A few of them have led me to believe that they wanted me to join them and minister with them – only to be told, after months of meetings, idea sharing, helping them plan certain events and connecting them with others, that there is “no room in the inn.” I find it sad; sad to be misled, sad to be used (no, abused) and sad to think there was an ulterior motive to why they wanted to meet with me. What concerns me even more is the people I connected with them are now in the same boat, getting ready to be tossed over the side.

I have come to the realization that they never wanted me to be in their family, they just wanted me to help them develop some things and move on – what is even sadder, is that I have come to think those things of “people of God.” I mean, how can people who claim to follow Christ treat others so poorly, so mean spirited, so misleading? Sure, this idea that we are all “just people” is the standard “Christian” response to such actions, but that one is getting rather old and is more of a copout than a reality. Besides, I expected much more from denominational leaders who claimed to be inclusive and open.

So, what I have decided is that I will no long share with a denomination without a fat consulting contract – I figure if they want to take from me, I want something in return.


  1. Mike
    Posted 2011/08/12 at 12:52 pm | #

    I suspect that this dynamic is behind the trend of many younger leaders (and some older ones) to chuck the denominations and go it independent. Yeah, it helps to get seed money from the suits, but you have to be willing to play games and fit in their cookie cutter.

  2. Pastor Nar
    Posted 2011/08/12 at 1:12 pm | #

    Sorry you had to go through that – again – my brother. I hear and feel the pain. You have a call and a voice that will be heard. May the Spirit bring light and lead you along her path.

  3. Kevin Copeland
    Posted 2011/08/12 at 1:48 pm | #

    I can totally relate. Same sort of thing happened to me last year in a church with pretty Conservative leadership. At the same exact time, a very close friend of mine in a very Liberal/Progressive Denomination was experiencing the same exact thing. Even some of the verbiage and excuses being used were the exact same. Seems it happens everywhere, no matter where you go. So sorry to hear that.

  4. Micah Royal
    Posted 2011/08/12 at 8:36 pm | #

    Sorry to hear your experience. I had something happen at a liberal congregation I pastored recently. Now I am back to (unpaid) church-planting and working as a part of the Progressive Christian Alliance, a free church network that doesn’t have money for funding projects but gives mentoring, prayer, moral support and collegiability. I find that is alot more helpful than I get working as a part of established churches and denominations. It is not nor ever has been about money for me — or I would do something other than ministry — and love the freedom to do the work the Lord has given me without being pushed into a denominational box. Since what I share and give is all voluntary, I also don’t feel used in the way I was when I was serving for a more established group. Rooting and praying for you. Love the vision I have heard you share and know that as you work toward it with an open heart God can bless it.

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