Sunday, April 13, 2008

How decisions are made

Today I was reading through a conversion story--rather unusual--a twice married, Lutheran pastor (Australian) converting to Roman Catholicism. It's quite interesting in that his struggle and mental gymnastics and reworking of doctrine went back some 20 years. Here's the statement that caught my eye, Two questions were rising in my mind: How were doctrinal decisions made in the church? And what authority enforced them?

Several of us women were sorting through a similar idea--one a member for perhaps 10 years, one a member for almost 50, and me a member for 32 years. Our question was simple: Who is "they" in our church? None of us knew, yet we were all in different circles and spheres of influence.

Everything you belong to or participate in, whether work, service, religious or fraternal, has a "they," as in "they say you can't do that," or "they say we will eventually. . ." or "they say you have to talk to. . ." but no one seems to know who "they" is.

The former senior pastor of UALC (about 15 years) had his finger in every pie and pot; he was a micro-manager. He rewrote our constitution to weaken the influence of the lay people. We had a fat committee/ministry manual that would make any huge corporation proud--right down to an edict not to send a fax to a newspaper without the church official logo, but not until someone on staff had approved the message. He was a charismatic out of Missouri Synod (now there's a combination!), and someone told me once that his sermons were like every LC-MS sermon she'd ever heard growing up. I suppose you can tell that people either adored him and hung on every word, or attended services where he wasn't the preacher. Maybe you didn't like it, but you always knew who "they" was. When the word came down that "staff" was unhappy about something, or desired something to happen, you knew immediately who that was.

Maybe that's how the Lutheran convert to RC felt--he might not like all the decisions, but he knew who was the go-to person.

This entry is just loaded with gossip; I repent.

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