Wednesday, September 20, 2006

tough questions

Well, it’s been so long that Phil (and maybe others) have no doubt struck me from their links list. And that’s ok. I’ve needed to take some time off and, who knows, may need a little more before it’s all through.

It’s been a tough couple of months. For those who have sent emails, thank you. You’ll be glad to know that neither my marriage, nor my ministry are in shambles. I’m also not suicidal or in financial ruins. You won’t be seeing me on the news or reading about me in any Christian publications. I’ve just managed to adopt a rather unhealthy lifestyle and a ministry schedule that has allowed for very little in the way of personal rest and devotion. I’m aware of that now and am trying to take the necessary steps to make those two things, along with marriage and fatherhood, a priority. But once you get started down that path, it’s very hard to reel it back in without disappointing or even offending people. So mostly it comes down to giving myself permission (or finding somebody else to grant me that permission) to say “no”.

So, after more than a month, what might bring me back to the world of online purging? Well, since I last vented, I managed to both walk through dog poo wearing only a pair of flip flops, and to reach into a trash can (rubbish bin) in the middle of the night only to come up with a handful of maggots. Both of these stories are absolutely true and I have not embellished in any way. In fact, I really could write entirely separate posts on both topics and easily fill a page up with my latest plans to rid the planet of big dogs, and of how I find it hard to eat now as most everything reminds me of those maggots. In fact, even as I type the word “maggot” I find myself looking around to see if they’re still on me. I think I need to go wash my hands again.

To be honest with you, I could be perfectly content to continue in silence if it were not for the event that took place last week. Chick Yuill’s resignation. Where do I start and where do I end? And do I even have the strength to engage in this discussion or to weed through the naive comments of “loyal” soldiers that may respond to this post. Or, what’s worse, do I have the strength to continue on should the spirit of fear that currently exists in our church keep people from commenting at all. I don’t know the answer to that question.

People get into ministry for all sorts of reasons. For some it’s power. For others it’s the desire (and gifting) to preach/teach. For others their personality wouldn’t allow them to be happy doing anything else than helping others. And the list goes on and on. Hopefully, for most of them, it also involves a calling.

I got into ministry for several reasons, but the longer I’m in it, and the more I get to know and understand myself and my past, the more I realize that I’m in ministry because of bullies. I look at my ministry and my passions and realize that most things I do revolve around helping people overcome bullies. It’s a personal vendetta. I admit that. When I help somebody else overcome a bully, it’s like I’m overcoming a bully myself. In fact, my rants on this very blog concerning the church are me taking on what I consider to be one of the biggest bullies in the world. And, in this case, a bully that is (I believe) actually keeping people from hearing the true message of the cross. So when I’m confronted with the current story taking place in our church, I find myself at a complete dilemma.

Now, for those of you who are not part of the Salvation Army, I apologize. I apologize because I just don’t have it in me to get into the entire story or to explain all of the ins and outs. If you’re really interested, go to google and type in Chick Yuill resign. It’s that big of a deal. But for those of you in the know, what can I say?

The spirit of fear that exists in our church right now is wrong. In fact, it’s sin. And even as I type this, I’m fearful of the repercussions. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me at all if I’m eventually contacted and asked to delete this very post. In fact, there’s my accountability. If this post is deleted, you’ll know exactly what happened here. People are afraid to say anything about this, at least publicly. And I’ve struggled with my own willingness to stick my neck out here, which is so unlike me. I’ve got a daughter now, and I’m responsible to meet (almost) her every need. But I also don’t want my daughter growing up with a father who is afraid to take a stand against sin. I’ve dealt with similar dilemmas before, but honestly, never to this extreme. I’ve never felt this much tension from both sides before.

What am I supposed to do here? The trend is to put our head down and go about our business, hoping we won’t be the next one to get singled out. Or even to believe that “blind acceptance” is the same as “being faithful”. But for all of you who believe that God ordains all church leaders, or that the decisions of praying, Godly men cannot be questioned, let me encourage you to go back and read your Bible. It is full of men, in high positions in the church, who were not put there by God. And it is even filled with men, put there by God, who went on to make ungodly and unblessed decisions. Saul comes to mind.

One of my first impressions of the Army was that it was a church full of unexplainable arrogance and spiritual pride. I believe those two things to be one of the biggest reasons our church has been in a decline for so long now. And yet here I still am, believing that God wants to do something with us.

And so, as I struggle through this, and wonder how to respond to it all, the following question is never far from my heart and mind; what would true repentance look like?

Comments on "tough questions"


Blogger Roz said ... (2:56 AM) : 

I read Chick Yuill's resignation statement and was saddened that someone should be treated in this way and even more so that it was by people in The Salvation Army.

I think that my experiences with the Salvation Army have been 99% positive, but then that has been an experience with some pretty amazing people who often don't seem typical of The Salvation Army.

There seems to be a foundation built in the church whereby the best and the worst are the rebels and renegades...the best, though having their ideals, are still keen to explore, they are open to positive change, ready to listen to all POVs and move the organization's ideals forward and stretch them further for all.

While the worst wind the ideals into a tight unrecognisable ball with lots of restrictive rules on how the game should be played and who gets to/should play it. Goal posts are ever-shifting, rules are so complicated they interfere with play to the point people forget what game was started in the first place. And the important rules that are there to protect people from injury are swept away with the fervour that comes from wanting to win at all costs and having the power to do so.

Its no surprise people want to opt out of such game will only hurt and it is very hard to fight especially as so much of the game play is hidden from view and remotely controlled.

Its a problem not peculiar to the Salvation Army...but is especially sad in the Salvation Army...and I can see why it concerns u.

I hope you find a way to deal with it and I am glad you are speaking out despite your reservations... you are in the first category of rebels & renegades...

BTW as it is 2.46am and I can't be sure in my tired state that what I am writing actually makes any kind of sense...I don't mind if u erase it after reading it...I will understand why...however if u are asked to remove your post from your blog or if you are at the receiving end of any kind of reprisals I won't understand that


Blogger Tim said ... (7:02 PM) : 

Nothing to erase here Roz, and thanks for your words. I hope people read and consider them.


Blogger Larry said ... (2:07 AM) : 

Well, I am not sure what happened in the case of the Yuills. I have heard the rumors and maybe the facts.

I look at it this way, it is a sad day when any person who is in minstry feels hurt in such a way that it causes them to leave their life's joy and work. It is also sad when Christian brothers and sisters can not come to a place of peace between them.

I am saddened that the Army lost these people. My experience with them was a positive one.

What is one to do? We do not stick our heads in the sand. We do not ignore, but what we do is resolve in our hearts to do what we believe God has called us to do. No matter what obstacles we feel are thrown in our way, God can make it possible to get through. Brian McLaren call this fighting the "tyranny of the impossible."


Blogger Bret said ... (5:03 AM) : 

I haven’t heard of the resignation . . . thanks for sticking you neck out . . .

As far as your first impression . . . the same impression caused me to seriously resist my call to officership. I still struggle. But God is bigger than all that . . .




Blogger Bret said ... (5:33 AM) : 

OK . . . I read Chick Yuill's resignation here . . .

I don’t know him . . . have never met him . . . but have heard nothing but great things . . . as I read the resignation letter my heart broke . . . even though I don’t know what happened or didn’t happen . . . I understand.

Perhaps this will have a similar effect on the army as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. had on America.

Even though the Yuill’s have paid a high price . . . I think the Army has paid the highest by loosing them.

May God bless the Yuill’s.


Blogger jsi said ... (4:54 PM) : 

I read that resignation letter last week and was struck still. The things which must have occurred to make that his only avenue of action must be dramatic. You are witnessing this mess first hand, with others, a sad day when adults cannot be one the same page of communication. Its painful to watch ministry become a tug-or-war, where power and its control has a big part of motivation.
Praying for you and the ministry you carry, the changes you have put in place for your family and the understanding of those around you who walk this world with you as light to those in darkness. Enjoy your day!


Blogger surrendered said ... (5:58 PM) : 

Just wanted to say off the top that you're one of the few people whose blogs are so thought-inspiring that i'd never take you off my blog list, no matter how long it had been since your last post.

I haven't read this post yet, but i wanted to get that out of the way...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:47 PM) : 

I'm flabbergasted. I don't know how much contact you actually have with the Yuill's. If any, please assure them of the prayers being lifted up on their behalf. it is an incredibly sad thing to see what the effects power has over people who allow themselves to become so far removed from accountability, to allow position to overshadow ministry (admitedly an oversimplified assessment of a situation I know the bare minimum of).

Tim, you have been an inspiration to me as I have often wondered what would draw an "outsider" such as yourself to the Army (I apologize if that offends anyone reading this; I'm just being honest). I have been so grateful for your presence there and can appreciate the struggles, the depth of the questions. And I do believe it's a struggle worth fighting for. The beauty of the Army is the struggle to BE the true Church - one that truly cares for the orphans, that offers places of worship in the midst of that caring. I don't believe that is an easy identity to maintain, especially in our world today. It is all to easy within the structure the Army has established to incarnate that mission for such misrepresentations. Which, I agree with roz, is not a problem unique to the Army.

Anyway, maybe I've said to much - especially as one who's no longer a regular part of the Army's ministry, but all that to say I resonate with you, Tim, and commit to praying for you in your ministry as you continue to seek your place, however it is God desires to use you.

And on a personal note, just wanted to say Hi, um, if you remember me! :)

Elissa (Hostetler) Hamon


Blogger Graeme Smith said ... (9:59 PM) : 

It's clear that there is a lot going on that those of us who are not in certain territories are aware of. I am deeply saddened by the Yuill's resignation as I have said elsewhere.

The way things have clearly been going for sometime is a very worrying situation, especially as it is not more widely known. The nature of the things that have been going on would appear to be far from Christian and a simple "I've got nothing to apologise for" is simply not good enough.

The fact is though that the ramifications will only be felt at certain levels and within certain areas of the Army world. Part of this is for cultural reasons, in that authority such as that on display is acceptable in some quarters. For others it is simply that they are far from the centre of things and news tends not to seep through.

Unfortunately, it is those territories that are already struggling numerically where this will be hit hardest. This is especially true when they are trying new things.

This is not the only problem we face though. Liberal views shaped more by society than the Bible are the norm at all levels in some territories. In these places the Bible has virtually no authority and its increasingly likely that anything goes.

Despite everything though I am still striving to see a positive future for the Army. This may be one of the darkest hours in living memory but God has brought the Army through them before and I truly believe He will again.

I won't ignore the problems we face as a movement, but my first calling is to Jesus and His path. I will follow Him and Him only and I will go whereever that takes me regardless of the human consequences. I can do nothing else!

God Bless
Graeme (aka uksalvationist)


Blogger Bill said ... (6:31 PM) : 

All I can say is that it is very unfortunate in the way that this happen for the Yuills. But I can not help to say and probably offend many people on this reply list. But we need to remember that there are always two sides to every story. No matter how much we know of one side.

There is ALWAYS power in meekness.


Blogger Nicole_Hostetler said ... (8:42 PM) : 

As I read his resignation, my heart was broken. To think that we can become the enemy within is frightening. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I was unaware that this even happened.
The Church (universal church not only TSA) needs to get a grip. The world around us is quickly going to hell and we are busy keeping our own little kingdoms afloat! God help us!


Blogger kevin said ... (3:00 PM) : 


I have read the resignation letter. I am saddened. I have benefitted from the ministry of both parties. The Cliftons were my DC's in Massachusetts for several years. They were fine examples of pastoral ministers, leaders willing to make tough decisions, people who stood on principal and did not waver under criticism. I have been under the Bible teaching of the Yuills and still count those days as highlights in my spiritual journey. Because I do not know the full story it is a challenge to comment in any way. There is very specific guidelines in Scripture which are to be followed when there is a dispute. I would hope that these steps have been followed before the statements were posted on the net. Nothing good can come from division. Sides will be chosen, allegiances will be formed, time will be wasted. When we should be united against the enemy of our souls, we will be divided against each other. Satan wins. A sad day.
I am confident in this, that despite our human nature bumbling and fumbling around, God will remain Sovereign. Lord, grant us wisdom to discern what is the way of God and what is the way of man.

Thanks Tim, for sticking your neck out.


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