Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Vanity (11/15/18)
- TITLE: To God Be the Glory
By Kate Oliver Webb
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“Tom, these are not the figures Pastor Ken brought to the Board. How can this possibly be true?”
“I was at the Board meeting when he gave his presentation, Marcus. This” he drummed his index finger on the page, “is a totally different plan than what he gave to the Board. The facility the Board approved is half the cost of what you see here, although on the surface the construction looks pretty similar. It’s the upgrades that are sending the costs through the roof. The ceiling heights in the sanctuary, the additional lighting for the stage area, all the enhanced sound and lighting that he’s ordered, and just the salary for the interior decorator,” Tom did air-quotations here. “The Board isn’t aware of all that.”
“Did you ask Pastor Ken about the figures you have?”
Tom Fisk nodded.
“What’d he say?”
“About what you’d expect, Marcus. You know how persuasive he can be. He said I didn’t understand what people are expecting in a forward-looking, seeker-friendly church. He said with the satellite congregations he expects to be forming, he’ll need the enhanced structures and technology to get his messages out to those who attend. And those people, he says, will be looking for a successful appearing church. I don't disagree; I just want everything to be clear and above-board. The Church Board needs to know about these financial projections and expenses.”
Tom studied the table in front of him, looking like he’d rather be having teeth pulled than revealing this deception to the Associate Pastor.
“So I asked him about what he presented to the Board, and that it appeared to me to be deceptive. Frankly, he tap-danced with me, said the Board would go along with any upgrades and additional expenditures, because they like him and his message.”
Marcus was silent for a moment.
“First thing, Tom, is we’ll need to pray about this. And it must remain between us for now. We’ve got to give Pastor Ken a chance to explain what he’s done. Perhaps it’s all completely innocent; maybe we’ve got the figures wrong. I can’t see him being deceptive to the Board simply to attract a more affluent—for want of a better word—crowd. I’ve always thought he was just preaching a simple gospel, wanting to attract those who need Jesus. I’m sure that’s what’s going on; we just need to confirm that.”
“Too late, my friend. Check out the purchase orders here.” Tom opened another file folder and handed it to Marcus.
And there, in black and white, was the evidence that Marcus’s beloved Senior Pastor had begun to focus on the material rather than the spiritual attractiveness of the Gospel of Christ. And who, he wondered, would get the glory for that?
The two men prayed together, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance for the way forward. Over the next months, Marcus would find it necessary to approach his Pastor with knowledge of the deception, then present the matter before the Board. He knew there would be a lot of work to be done, a lot of back-pedaling, some fences to mend.
The revelation was not a pleasant thing, but Marcus’s conscience would not allow him to do otherwise. Was this, too, perhaps a pride issue on his part? In his heart he knew it was not: the break with his Pastor caused him much pain.
Following Scriptural guidance from Matthew 18 and I Corinthians 5, Marcus was able to work through the details of disciplining even one of his peers. In this case, the end was positive, as Pastor Ken was able, with God’s help, to confess his deception, and submit himself to his Elders for reconciliation.
We can only pray that in other circumstances such as this—and they do happen—the culmination, while painful, can result in Spiritual receptiveness and renewal.
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