My wife and I moved to a new town a little over a year ago. A spiritual life was very important to us, so we quickly found a church and became members. All went well until a few months ago, when our pastor was arrested for absconding with church funds above his salary. This has shaken me to my core.
I am considering leaving the church for good, or at least trying a different one. My wife tells me that she wants us to continue going to this church. She says that the actions of one person shouldn’t sway us from worshiping God, and that most of our new friendships were formed there. What do I do?
Al in Alabama
I am so sorry to hear about your pastor, it is very difficult to go on when someone has betrayed your trust.
When Mom and Dad moved us from Seattle to Las Vegas, we did not know very many people. Mom and Dad both had a history with Toastmasters, so they started there. They also looked at different churches and found one they liked. Soon, we had so many friends that we were busy all of the time and never lonely!
But then, our trust was compromised, much like yours, and we had to make some tough decisions.
One was with the church. This was not just one person but institution-wide. Mom said that she could not be part of an institution that would do something like what that church did, so she left. There are still a few people who were members and not involved in the issue that Mom and Dad are still friends with.
The other problem occurred in Toastmasters, but this was with a particular person. It hurt Mom very much, and she almost left the organization because of it. She gave this person plenty of time and opportunity to be sorry or make amends, but this person was not interested. The thing was, the organization did not cause nor back the problem the other member created, so mom just stopped trying to be friends with that one person, chose a club that person was no longer a member of, and continued to flourish without that person. Mom and Dad are both still members and all three of us still have a whole bunch of Toastmaster friends. We just visited a big group of them on Friday!
The reason I told you two stories is because I wanted to point out that there is a huge difference between an organization that does bad things and a person that does bad things. Organizations tend to carry on doing the bad things over and over because so many people think that it is OK, so it becomes systematic, if not accepted. This means that most of the people are not the kinds of people you want to be friends with anyway.
The other example was one person within the organization. Even if the person is in a leadership position when they do something bad, that does not mean that the organization and/or every one it believes it is OK.
It is not easy to find a good church that holds your values and is full of people you love and trust. Leaving one should not be taken lightly, and should not be based on one bad experience with one person.