The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

I Disagree with my Church's Theology

February 21, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 33
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
I Disagree with my Church's Theology
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever grappled with the tough reality of theological differences within your church team? We're here to guide you through these choppy waters. In this episode, we dissect the fine line between core beliefs and secondary issues, examining if these rifts are recent developments or if they've been simmering under the surface. I share personal insights on how to approach changes in belief, reminding us that evolution in faith is natural. We delve into strategies for effective communication and consider if these divergences truly hinder the church's mission. For anyone contemplating whether it's time to stay or move on, this discussion underscores the value of seeking wisdom from mentors and the power of open dialogue before deciding to part ways with your faith community.

Navigating church ministry as a theological purist can be a tightrope walk, especially when secondary issues come into play. This episode sheds light on discerning the non-negotiables from the aspects of faith where we can bend without breaking. I share experiences and insights on assessing the gravity of theological disagreements, whether in current or potential roles within the church, highlighting that a knee-jerk reaction isn't always the answer. Listeners are encouraged to contribute their perspectives and suggest topics related to church staffing. Be sure to connect with us as we continue to offer guidance on aligning personal convictions with our dedication to our spiritual communities.

Have questions or comments? Send to podcast@chemistrystaffing.com

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Speaker 1:

I hear it all the time. I'm not aligned with my church anymore theologically. This is just it's not working. It's not a good fit. We're going to talk about that today here on the Healthy Church Staff Podcast. My name is Todd Rhodes.

Speaker 1:

I'm a co-founder over at ChemistryStaffingcom and thanks so much for joining us today. You're here because you're in this pickle right. You find yourself in a church that you've got some what you feel are really deep theological problems with right we're going to take a look at. There's probably enough here today to do two or three podcasts, but I'm going to try and cram it into one just because that's the kind of guy I am. But it's not uncommon. We in our work at ChemistryStaffing talk with tons of candidates every week and it's not uncommon for a candidate to say I'm just where I'm serving right now is just not a good fit theologically. And first of all, I'd love to start by helping you identify the disagreements I think you need to really dive into. Is this a real issue? Is this something that I really need to be concerned about? Is it a core issue theologically or is it a secondary issue? Are we talking about virgin birth stuff here? You disagree on things like the virgin birth, or do you disagree on things like I don't know, it's different for every church. But do you disagree on things like a literal six day? Creation Could be a big thing for some churches, other churches, that's a secondary issue.

Speaker 1:

So distinguish is this a core theological issue or is this a secondary one? That's the first thing. Second thing is this something new? Did you know about this when you took the job? Are you surprised that this kind of come out of nowhere? Sometimes it does. It's just it's new and you determine that things are different than they used to be. But many times and a lot of times, churches don't change. It's more us that changed. And that's the third question is who changed? Was it the church or was it me? And granted, we all change over time. I doubt that you probably believe exactly, maybe even about some core theologies, definitely about some secondary ones. You probably have changed your beliefs a tad bit over the last 20 years and that's okay. But really, when I hear people say this is not a fit and I disagree with my church's theology and I need to get out, the first thing I ask them is okay. So what exactly is the theological problem? Is it a core issue? Is it a secondary issue? When did this show up? Who changed? And that gives me some insight. And those are the questions. If you feel like you're going to pickle here, these are the questions I'd be asking if I were you.

Speaker 1:

So now what? You decided that, hey, there are some differences in the way I believe and the way my churches believe. What do I do from here? Where do I go from here? A lot of it has to do with communication and the truth is not everybody lives and breathes theology like you do, for crying out loud. You're a pastor, okay, so hopefully you do have interest in theology, but you know what Most of the people on your lay people on your board, most of the people in your congregation, do not have the interest in theology that you do.

Speaker 1:

The question is are you really making a big deal out of something that's only a big deal to you? Sometimes I'm surprised because when we onboard churches for our searches at chemistry staffing, I'm surprised at when we have them do a theological assessment. I'm surprised when the members of the board or even the search committee get together around a table and start unpacking theological questions. I'm surprised at how often they don't agree and they're surprised that they don't agree because you know what? They've never really thought about it.

Speaker 1:

Theology is not top of mind for most people. They love Jesus, but they're not interested in reform versus Armini and they're not having the complementary and egalitarian discussion or debate. They're not having all the denominational debates that we have in many of our tribes. They're just trying to live their lives and live for Jesus. So is this a big deal For you or is this just? Is it a big deal? Does it really rise to that level?

Speaker 1:

Communication you need to make sure that you express your disagreements respectfully. You need to try and grow through this, through openness, and really the bottom line question for you is a couple of them Does this affect the gospel mission of your church? If you were to stay there, and even with this kind of discrepancy in what you believe and what the church's belief is, can you still be effective in the gospel? Can I live within the boundaries of this local church? If you can, then it might not be nearly. You might be making more of a mountain out of a molehill. If you can't, then yet it's serious stuff.

Speaker 1:

Not all of these theological debates, though, particularly on secondary issues, are gonna necessitate you leaving or a move on your part. Sometimes you can agree to disagree on secondary issues. Churches and staffs do it all the time, and not on primary issues, but on secondary issues. So how do you make, how do you size all this, how do you take all this in and determine is this something I need to worry about? Is this something I should? Just what do I do here? Cause this is tough when you're in the situation.

Speaker 1:

Here's my advice leaving should be a last resort and that might sound funny from somebody that co-founded a staffing firm because we pay our mortgages on helping churches find new staff and when people leave, that's an opening for us. But really leaving should be a last resort. You should try and move forward in grace and not bitterness. You should try and seek wisdom. You should try and consult your mentors, pray for guidance and really try to and I know it's tough sometimes try and maintain openness amidst these disagreements.

Speaker 1:

Not every disagreement necessitates a fight and sometimes disagreements can actually deepen faith and the disagreement can maybe lead to a broader discussion that might lead to some theological clarity, both for you personally and for the church. So focusing on using disagreements to expand understanding rather than create divisions is always the way to go, and, at the end of the day, once you've taken those steps and you've moved forward in grace and you've communicated and you've sought wisdom and you've consulted mentors and you've prayed, sometimes it is time to move on. Sometimes you find that no, this is I'm in a place where this church is just a lot different than what I am and I don't think it's gonna work long-term. And that's fine. That's fine. You can go and learn from what you've just experienced and make sure you find a church that fits you maybe a little bit better theologically for the next 10-year ministry.

Speaker 1:

I hope this has been helpful. My word to you is don't make any rash decisions. If you're a theological purist, this is gonna be an issue for you. Chances are not only at the church you're at, but at the next church. If everything has to line up and there's no wiggle room at all on secondary issues, this is gonna be something that might plague you for your ministry. On the primary issues, though, absolutely there has to be clarity, there has to be unity, moving forward, and I hope that some of these ideas will help you discern whether this is a big deal or it's not a big deal. Not everything's a big deal, guys. Okay, I hope this has been helpful. Let me know your thoughts on this. I can anticipate already some of the feedback and comments I'm gonna get, but I would love to hear from you is podcastatchemistrystaffingcom, and if you have any topics that you would like for me to discuss here that relate to church staff, I would love to do it. Just leave me an email at podcastatchemistrystaffingcom. I'll be back here tomorrow.

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