A few weeks ago I took my daughter out for an celebratory lunch at her favorite Greek restaurant. She’s gotten acceptance letters from all of the colleges she’s applied to plus we really needed to touch base, take a time out together from the busy of our lives. Over sovlaki and hummus she started talking about what she would say to our former pastor Patrick if she ran into him again. She had run into him an few months ago and had been so surprised she’d just hurriedly muttered out pleasantries before leaving him as rapidly as a man with his pants on fire would run for the lawn sprinklers.
I had to ask her what she would say to Patrick if they were face to face. She blurted out something like “F**k you, motherf**ker and thanks for ruining my f**king childhood!” before laughing. We both laughed imaging the faces of those sycophants and hanger on-ers Patrick was always surrounded by if she let the F word fly.
That’s one big marker of a cult-like unhealthy church atmosphere, if everyone treats the pastor as if he is either the world’s most famous rockstar or the big toe of Jesus touching down on the earth to be adored. We saw that, participated in the pastor-pleasing behaviors too, perhaps not to the depth that many did but we did it as a family. It’s dangerous business for the most part. When everyone is busy kissing the rear end of the pastor or bowing down to his every whim and word it starts to look like a one man show with no real room for the Lord or anyone else. Plus the pastor starts to think he’s in control or assumes control. It also breeds unhealthy competition among the members all vying for the attention and favor of the pastor.