Sunday, October 16, 2016

Local church corruption quickly found after Mackay talk

An earlier blog post noted that Hugh Mackay, a leading social researcher, had determined that an intrinsic function of churches, characterised as “corruption”, was a prime reason for people to be repulsed from church.  Mackay suggested that people will largely ignore the corporate corruption of churches (e.g. the child sexual abuse that has been identified through the Royal Commission) until such time that they evidence localised church corruption.  Localised church corruption was considered to take many forms including abuse of standards of practice.
free and unattributable

Sadly, in a sermon earlier this month, I witnessed local church corruption.

In a sermon that otherwise offered a very sound exposition of verses in Acts, there was a flippant point where the preacher turned to identify part of the church building fabric.  I use "flippant" as it represent a turn from the eternal to the passing.

It represents a point in the sermon were I walked out of the church (the second time I had walked from a sermon at that church in the past two years) – principally as a result of abuse of the usual form of oration that we identify as a sermon.  The abuse is quite pronounced in that to make mention of a part of the building fabric is to politicise the sermon.  On reflection one has to ask whether the Biblical text, and sermon theme, were chosen such that the political message could be delivered (which is itself a form of corruption).

I have little personal view on the particular item of the church fabric and yet I know that it was discussed two years prior as part of a request to change the church building.  That request was denied.  In such circumstances, I find it detrimental to the church family that a preacher would perhaps derail sound diplomatic discussion of the future of the item of the church fabric - such discussion being ordinarily due the whole church family - by being so pronounced about that item during a sermon.  Perhaps, corruption was evident in railroading the congregation back again into a church fabric change management process?

Further, the chosen Acts text spoke to the wonderful intent of God to include all persons in the church, yet the flippant pointing to part of the church fabric was an adverse illustration.  It was an adverse illustration in that it was utilised in terms of exclusion of persons.  Approximately, 80% of the sermon was true to the theme of inclusion (and true to the Biblical text) and then the sermon turned to the illustration of exclusion.  I have since researched the history of the item of the church building fabric and have been delighted to comprehend that on sound reading one need not see any form of exclusion but instead the most wonderful example of inclusion.  The sermon could well have been completely true to inclusion and powerfully left all parishioners solidly understanding such theme.

I hope that Diocesan control ensures sound continuing professional education of its clergy such that the sermon format is not corrupted.  This would be appropriate after Diocesan consideration of sermon quality.

We should turn from corruption wherever we see it. 


Note 1: Some may say that I’m idolising sermons.  I’m not.  I’m instead calling for application of standards.  If a church hasn’t the discipline to deliver solidly on its main method of communication then it hardly stands credible for any other communication.  Further, I’m not idolising the item of church fabric – I truly do not hold to a personal position on the item.  Anyone wanting to criticising me of idolatry is then only left to criticise my interest in church family democracy – to that I’m very willing to be critiqued.

Note 2: By private message I will offer a link to the recording.

Note 3: all links good at 10 October 2016

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