Back before my whole church ordeal started, before being told I couldn’t lead in any ministry, I was already heavily involved in my church. I took part in the college-age ministry, I attended the main church campus for awesome Bible teaching, and I served the best way I could in whatever area needed.
A few weeks before I applied for SOM and leadership for my college Bible study, my church sent invitations for both youth and young adults to join the choir. I didn’t share my testimony with these church pastors, nor did they require a background check for anyone interested in choir.
I gladly took the opportunity to join this ministry to go with the other areas where I was already serving. I had an alright singing voice — not too great, but not too bad either. I was somewhere in the middle, but I knew I could hold a tune.
My church mixed both youth and young adults together for the choir, so we had many interesting people lending their voices. It was there that I made four friends in the youth ministry. When I first met these guys, some were close to graduating high school and entering college, and some were going to be seniors.
We had a pretty good bond with each other, and you could tell these guys were very mature for their age. We would joke around during choir practice, yet also have awesome theological discussions during our hangout sessions.
I had that aforementioned run-in with my church shortly after meeting these guys in choir: where I was told I couldn’t serve in various areas of ministry, including the youth ministry and being around the younger children at the church.
I had a dilemma. I was already friends with a few of the guys in the youth ministry, and some were old enough to start off as freshmen in college. I decided to sweep that under the rug and deal with it later.
During the summer, some of these younger guys went on a short-term missionary trip, and some stayed back because they were preparing for college. I hung out with the ones who stayed and talked to them about college: what it was like and what to expect.
One weekend, the youth ministry wanted to organize a theology/apologetics class for the youth so they could be better prepared to answer difficult questions if ever asked by their school friends or non-Christian family.
One of my youth friends who stayed behind asked me if I wanted to go to this event. He would be all alone there and wanted someone he knew to be by his side. I was walking with him when we ran into a youth pastor. Both guys wanted me to join, and I did my best to refuse their offer. But the youth pastor insisted I should go, even despite my being in college.
So, I thought it’d be safe for me to go since the youth pastor had offered.
The day came for the event, and I was pretty excited to attend. Yes, it was a bit weird for me to be at this apologetics class for youth, but I was excited to learn how to present the Gospel in a new way.
During a break about halfway through the day, two of the youth pastors came up to me and wanted to talk with me. My senses were tingling, and I already knew I was about to fall victim to my past again.
Both youth pastors took me into the conference room to talk. They started saying stuff I’d already heard before; this time, I beat them to the punch and recited it back for them.
I told the youth pastors that I understood what was being said, and at the end of the conversation they prayed for me. Yet neither of them ever apologized for the mistake they made by inviting me to the event in the first place, nor were they genuinely sorry about what my past had done to me.
They told me that I had to leave immediately and not go near the youth ministry again.
I left my church in the middle of the afternoon, feeling defeated and heavily disappointed in myself.
But this time, I didn’t cry.
I just had this gaping hole in my heart.
Have you ever been restricted or banned by church ministry? How did it make you feel? Do you still carry that grudge?
* Photo courtesy Tobias Wrzal, Creative Commons.