My wife (Dr. Kris T-B) and I go on a date on as many Fridays as possible. On our “date” we go to lunch and catch a movie matinee. Last week we went to see Joyful Noise, which was a good movie and showed the church and the faith in a positive light (for a change). On the other hand, it also revealed rather accurately a bit about church politics. And there’s one particular instance of church politics I want to reference in this post. BTW, although I’ll be sharing details about a scene in the movie, you don’t have to worry. It’s not a spoiler, so if you plan on seeing the movie you can keep on reading.
I just love church politics. I’ve seen them burn pastors, cripple church leaders, and literally kill churches. But so long as people are a part of the church, church politics will be a part of it. That’s why I so enjoyed this particular scene in the movie … because for a change, it was a GREAT example of how to deal with church politics – and in this case, how to deal with a church terrorist.
In the scene in question, G.G. Sparrow, played by Dolly Parton, is the wealthy patron of her church. She sings in the church’s choir that participates in competitions regionally (and hopefully nationally – that’s pretty much the theme of the movie). During the scene in question, she finds herself in Pastor Dale’s office (Courtney B. Vance) having a discussion. The scene unfolds with Pastor Dale trying to let G.G. down easily, that he and the board had made a decision that she would find difficult to accept. As predicted, G.G. tries to argue for her case. When it’s clear she’s not going to sway the pastor, she reminds him that it’s her financial support that the church depends on and that if Pastor Dale couldn’t see it her way, she’d have to reconsider that support.
This is the point where most church leaders begin to cave. They begin looking for a compromise option. In the movie, there’s no question that if G.G. stopped supporting the church, Pastor Dale would probably have to find another job and there’s even some question whether or not the church would be able to survive the financial loss. Given that reality, I can say with some confidence, most church boards relent to the terrorist’s demands (and make no mistake, when someone takes the church hostage with “If you _______ then I’m going to _________” you’re dealing with a bona fide terrorist).
In Joyful Noise, I’m pleased to report, Pastor Dale holds his ground. “You’ll need to do what your conscious tells you to do.” He shows a remarkable ability to remain a non-anxious presence and calls G.G.’s bluff.
It’s not easy dealing with terrorists, but if you don’t stand your ground … or better yet, deal with them kindly rather than nicely (see Nice is a Four-Letter Word) in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17 … then you just embolden them and make it more difficult the next time they strap a bomb to their chest.