I frequently receive letters which I answer privately, and that was the case with this one; however, mere days after I had answered it, I received another letter from thousands of miles away from this correspondent raising some of the same issues from a different perspective.  Immediately I decided that it would be worthwhile to add this to the web site.

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Again, the note is reproduced as a starting point, slightly edited for presentation in the HTML format and to remove recognizable personal references, with links included:

Dear MJ,

First let me thank you for all of your hard work as chaplain of the Christian Gamers Guild.  I have really appreciated your Faith & Gaming articles, and usually find new insights in your writings to the CGG list.

I hope that you can help me with an issue I am currently struggling with.  Any comments you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Let me start by describing the situations that have led me to this current point.  Then I'll get more specific about what I need your opinion on...

Some background information:  My wife and I attended a...church near our home for a good 5 years. Both of us have served in various capacities at that church.  Last year my wife felt a specific call from God to begin a "next generation" service at our church, which she did.  She enlisted the help of a number of the young adults at the church, and the service quickly grew.  Last summer my wife was given an opportunity to leave that church and take up reigns as assistant pastor at another...church some 40 miles from our home.  After a great deal of praying, we still hadn't had any clear direction from God about whether or not to take this opportunity.  To make a long story short--we decided to take the offer.  To make it even shorter--the whole deal ended up pretty badly to where we are now going to be leaving that church in June.  We now realize we got ahead of God, misinterpreting his silence as permission to do what we wanted.  A hard lesson learned.

In the mean time, a situation occurred at the church we previously attended involving the senior pastor and the young man that led worship for the next generation service (we still maintain relationships with both of them).  In a nutshell, the senior pastor had asked the worship leader to help teach kids at the Awanas club on Wednesday nights.  The worship leader declined, as he had another obligation at a neighboring church--playing drums for their youth group's band - and he didn't want to break that commitment.  Additionally, he really didn't feel led to teach children.  He did, however, agree to pray about it.  After a week or so of really seeking God's will, he told the senior pastor that he felt God was telling him that he needed to honor his previous commitment.  The senior pastor then proceeded to tell him that he had to teach the children or he could forget about being in any kind of leadership role at the church.  Again, to make a long story short, things snowballed to the point where the worship leader left the church (taking 90% of the next gen. worship team--and causing the downfall of the next gen. service).

So here is where we find ourselves.  Those involved in the above conflict have since reconciled.  Those that left the church have not returned, but the "bad blood" seems to be gone, and healing has happened (and is still happening).  My wife and I will more than likely return to this church in June, but I have a concern because of the situation I described.  The whole thing didn't sit well with me--I felt that the senior pastor over-extended his authority in demanding the worship leader's obedience, when the worship leader had sought God's will and didn't feel God was calling him to do what the pastor wanted.  It concerns me, because in conversations with the pastor (who is a close friend, by the way) and others that attend the church, the underlying attitude seems to be that we are not to question the authority of "those God has placed over us".  The line of thought goes something like this;  We are obedient to our leaders, and if they are in the wrong, God will deal with them.  This feels wrong to me.  However, I've not studied the issue in any great detail.  So, what I would like from you, is basically your opinion on what the Bible says regarding leadership and authority.  Are we, as Christians, to obey our church leaders without question?  If I were to find myself in a similar situation to the one described above, what do you think would be the correct response?

Thank you for your time.

God bless!

In an interesting bit of inversion, follow the second link to read the answer to the question about authority in the church, and the first link to read the aside in response to the hidden question about whether they misunderstood God's direction when they went to this other church.

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