Thinking Out Loud

November 11, 2019

When You’re Running Contrary to the Church Culture

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:02 am

Although Pastor Ted Reynolds had been six weeks at this new church, this was his first time teaching the adult Sunday School elective which met in a classroom setting.

After reading a chapter in Philippians, he said, “I think there are four things we can learn from this reading;” and as he said it he wrote “4 things” as a header on the whiteboard and underlined it.

As soon as he did he noticed a bit of a murmur and some shuffling. He turned around to face the group and there were a few people quietly coughing. Finally, there was a raised hand.

“Pastor,” he said, “Just so you know, in this church we write the number four with the top part closed.”

Reynolds, whose brain was focused on the doctrinal points he wanted to make, didn’t get it at first. “I’m sorry;” he said, “Can you repeat that?”

This time a woman spoke up, “You need to write the number so the upper part forms a triangle;” then after a one second pause, “That’s how we do it here.” She walked to another part of the whiteboard and illustrated the contrasting styles.

He looked at his header on the board and he had written it the way he had always written it, with the stems of the numeral either parallel or perpendicular. “That’s how I write it;” he replied, and he could feel himself digging in his heels on this bizarre issue.

Then Stan, an older member of the congregation who had served on the search committee which had interviewed him firmly said, “I guess you better get accustomed to how we do things here.”

Pastor Reynolds couldn’t believe this, but it wasn’t a hill worth dying on, and he resolved to conform. Problem was, habits die hard, especially when you’re looking at penmanship habits which had been formed long before Kindergarten.

So he simply, at every juncture where he could remember, wrote “four” instead of the number. In his mind, four was quickly becoming a four-letter word.

“It’s funny;” he said to his wife one night; “When I candidated here we talked about eschatology, women in ministry, Bible translations, worship styles; I tried to cover every topic which could possibly be controversial, but we never talked about calligraphy.”

It was then, and only then, that Bethany, his wife of 17 years turned to him and said, “Actually, I’ve always hated it when you write it open like that; I much prefer the way they way they do things here.”

Ted Reynolds was shattered. It was the controversy that wouldn’t go away. Ted did the only thing he could do. Fifteen months in, he resigned from the church, divorced Bethany, and now serves in a much more progressive church two states over, where they don’t judge you on how you write the number four.

 

3 Comments »

  1. After all, when you compromise on your fours, the next thing to go will be your sevens. For the record I always make mine with a cross.

    Comment by Lorne Anderson — November 11, 2019 @ 10:10 am

  2. Shows the absurdity of the kind of gthings we nitpick over..Sheesh

    Comment by Jesus Wins — November 13, 2019 @ 5:02 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: