In all honesty, had it not been for a tweet from a friend of mine, I would not have known that Pitt, the leader of “The Basement” in Birmingham had been arrested last night for posing as a peace officer, for the second time in two years. That sounds pretty shady, especially for the lead minister of one of the largest ministries in the U.S.But here’s the deal, this isn’t just the fault of Pitt. And frankly, we don’t know yet why he did what he did. He could be using drugs, he could be a liar and honestly, he is the right age for mental illness to be rearing its head. But, even if this were some big sin issue, it still goes back to problems in the Church. And the biggest problem is what I’m preachin at ya about, and that is simply being known.
Being known relates to two things in my book: first, letting people into our lives and second knowing those people around us. Let’s actually start with the second, since it is, I think less prevalent.We have a culture that in a lot of ways is screaming, “Expose yourself in every possible way. Tell us what you ate for breakfast and when you go to the bathroom on social media. That song you listened to on Pandora should be in your Facebook feed.” So, as annoying as that is to a lot of people, what it does do is allows people to be known. It’s kind of like the beauty shop or the bench in front of a hardware store. If someone is around, they are known. Matt Pitt for better or worse was a known entity. People praised him. People critiqued him. And in that regard, he wasn’t some odd duck leading a cult like David Koresh in the backwoods of a sparsely populated Texas County.
And that is why I call it the smaller issue. But there are people that still get sucked into these little off-the-grid bad situations simply because a charismatic dude(tte) who was an unknown entity, who kept hidden, seduced them to the dark side. This isn’t the same hiddenness as my friend James Mark Gulley who, on good authority has had the chance to cut records with major labels. JMG made the choice to remain hidden from “that,” but he is still known. People around Waco see him. They know what he does. And I value the way that he has hidden his talent before the Lord so as to protect his own heart. That is an amazing thing.The hiddenness I refer to is the guy or gal in a corner who no one seems to know anything about. They seem fine, but there really isn’t any personal knowledge about them. They not only shun the spotlight, they shun the community surrounding them. And again, this isn’t like my cousin who lives out in the country because she likes her privacy. She still does community. She is still known in that regard. So, before I belabor that further, I think you get what I mean.
The first is the greater problem within the Church. And I mean that in the Western sense, because I do not hear a lot of scandal in the Orthodox Church. Maybe there is, but those stories don’t come across my feed too often. What I am referring to is the system that we have agreed to that says pastors are both untouchable and don’t need accountability. Henri Nouwen addressed this in his day. The professional separation that we have accepted for therapists and doctors now extends into the pulpit. And we say, “Awesome.”But the problem is the Church is a spiritual community. And a pastor needs that. The pastor needs to confess his sins so that he may be healed. The pastor needs to live in community and have outlets to expose her brokenness. Our pastors need places where they are not necessarily venting, but saying, “This is who I am. I feel a little out of control right now. I am actually using drugs. I secretly had an abortion. I might actually be gay.” They need space to say these things in the same protective environs that we expect for ourselves…
…wait. I forgot. We’re evangelicals. Accountability and openness in our lives really stopped after that college phase. We’re good strong people. We have things under control. We don’t really need to confess our sins to one another anymore, because we have access to the Great High Priest Jesus without going to anyone else. My Bible tells me so.That’s bullroar. (See…dirty words are contextual, that’s just as bad as the real word, but we accept this form right?) It really is. One of the reasons scandals like this rock and will continue to rock the Church is because we have become these isolated spires of feigned righteousness. We shun accountability because we claim privacy is now a biblical virtue. But the truth is…we need each other. We need men and women to say, “Dude…you’re getting weird.” We need wise people to be able to say to our pastors, “I have noticed when I am at the Church that you spend an awful lot of time behind closed doors with so and so. I know your history. Is this something I should be worried about,” because…those wise people actually know their history and care enough to ask…not because they want the latest gossip.
Church. We need one another. We need confession and accountability as awkward as it is. We need to be known and to know one another…and before I use some foul words to emphasize my point…I will end. Love each other people. Love each other enough to hear confession, protect that confession and help the confessor to overcome. And love each other enough to confess, receive that forgiveness, receive that encouragement, receive that rebuke when needed, and receive help when you are down.