Spiritual Infections

I meet pastors for coffee. Every one of them says something like this to me: "I got an email this week from somebody who says they're leaving my church." I'm like, "Welcome to my club. At least you got an email."

We have the right to change churches. We have the right to quit being a part of one altogether. We even have the right to leave the faith. But there's something I notice in charismatic type churches, or churches who have been connected in any way with the renewal movement: we are more transient. We're looking for something. And if the church loses it or doesn't provide it, we'll be faithful for as long as we can, but eventually we'll move on. When I was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, I never saw anything like this. There are many churches in this area that people move around in. Like certain birds, we tend to migrate around to wherever it's hottest and most agreeable. Renewal and charismata does something to us. And it ain't all good. It plants a discontent deep within us that can never be satisfied, at least for long. I know what I'm talking about because I fight this restlessness all the time. As messed up as it was, Corinth, the conference capital of the Roman world, would've been my drug.

Yes, I'm infected. I have the charismatic renewal virus. But I also realize that what I value most is relationship. I am worshiping, praying and learning with my friends. To go after my drug would mean to abandon them.* I don't want that. I love them. They love me. My God, all we've been through together! And, as disappointing as church can be sometimes, when it comes down to it, the greatest of everything and anything is love.

*I realize that some people leave my church because they believe I am not preaching the gospel, or the whole gospel, or something other than the gospel. But that's another story.


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