21 Day of Prayer and Fasting, and the Mars Hill Podcast

 Hey friends! I know it's been a while since I've made any kind of update here, but I thought I would pop on and give a little State of The Parrish Address.

What a summer! In July, we celebrated Bishop's first birthday! He won't remember all the decorations and cake and ice cream and friends, but I definitely will. It was a day of celebration and a clear reminder that we are blessed with such good friends! We also visited the town where we grew up (our families still live there) and got a chance to see and catch up with friends we hadn't seen in way too long. 

We are also in the midst of a pretty significant change at our Church, and so our whole congregation was challenged to participate in prayer and fasting for our church for three weeks. So I deactivated my Instagram and Facebook (which is actually only for Marketplace... I even had no profile pic for a long time until I realized it made me look super creepy), and only ate actual fruits and vegetables so I could keep up with my 5k training. 

In that three week time, I listened to the podcast heard 'round the church world, called "The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill". There are still 5 episodes to go, but I'd like to do some unpacking here, if I may. 

First of all: I want to encourage folks who have been left the in disastrous wake of church hurt or spiritual/manipulation. Sometimes we wonder if our experiences that lead us to Jesus can possibly be real if we have also experienced abuse/manipulation/poor teaching in that same church/leadership. The answer is 100% absolutely and resounding YES. Because the very real Holy Spirit is bigger than a flawed pastor (which is actually every single pastor in the entire history of the world).

There were LOTS of things that kinda blew my hair back as far as what was said from the pulpit (ie: a lot of the women in ministry, and women in the church, women and work, and the woman's role in a marriage... pretty much anything regarding a woman's place in the world). A lot of what Driscoll was so staunchly against sounded like a very manipulative church I had came from, so I could get where he was coming from, to a degree. And then of course if you've listened through to the end you've heard the Joshua Harris episode. Of all the episodes this is actually the one that affected me the most profoundly. I have a lot of friends who have walked away from their faith, so to hear that process laid out was eye-opening, but also heartbreaking. And to hear the editor (this could be incorrect) of Christianity Today eventually ask, in the midst of all this pastoral failure and leaving the faith "Are there actually any real Christians?" That made me so sad. So, so sad. But the answer is yes! It is a resounding and beautiful yes! You know them, and so do I. So did I, my dad's example of steadfast, personal, deep, faith was real, and I will see him again.

Here's my major takeaway: If we listen to the podcast an indictment of Discroll's character, and eat this up the same way we eat up things like Wild Wild Country, Holy Hell, or WACO; popular cult documentaries, or even worse, The Ted Bundy Tapes, Mind Hunter, or Manhunt... docuseries/dramas about actual murders (all of which we have definitely watched), we endanger the Church in the same way the priest walks by the man beaten on the side of the road in the parable of the good samaritan. This is dangerously easy to do. If that's how we listen to this, then geez! Haven't we heard enough? At what point does it just become ugly judgemental voyeurism-fest? What if instead we use this intense and uncomfortable investigation/expose to examine the heart of our local churches and the church as a whole?

I have been working at Resurrection Church now for 5 years. I feel like I've lived 1000 ministry years after enduring a church merger, then a pandemic, becoming a parent, and now a changing of the guard so to speak. But one thing is for sure, and dear friends and followers of Jesus, Jesus is greater. He is love. He is gentle. He is mighty. He Knows. He cares. He is FOR you. Church hurt, abuse and manipulation hurts the heart of God,  and truly friends, it is not happening everywhere. There are beautiful gospel-centered communities where people love Jesus and each other, and I would say they are more common than we think (Because that doesn't get an expository podcast). Maybe I'll come back and share my thoughts after the final five episodes are posted, but I hope this encourages you. Leave a comment if you've listened sharing some of your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you have to say!