The Main Issue
At this moment, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) is filled with Four distinct types of people:
- You have those who are completely satisfied with how things are going and the leadership they have, and they are either oblivious about the questionable activities going on, or they are they fully content to follow without question and continue to move on with their service and their lives. These members have been labeled as Blind Followers. Although, I’m sure they’d consider themselves as Devout Followers.
- Then you have those on the other end of the spectrum who are hyper-aware of every reported infraction and perceived lie, and they are utterly disgusted with the current church administration because they feel that this leadership is solely responsible for the perceived atrocities that are being committed. They are not shy to question the inconsistencies they see (either to fellow Brethren without concern of who’s listening, or on their real social media account(s)), and it is usually those within this group that are being expelled. Many within this group call themselves Defenders. Others within the group hate that label.
- Then you have those that have been called (rather inaccurately) Silent Defenders. These are members who have noticed that things within the church have changed drastically in the last “X” number of years (depending on who you ask), and they regularly peruse the blogosphere to keep themselves in-the-loop as to what’s going on in the P.I. and elsewhere regarding: 36TS, money matters, smear campaigns on both sides, and so on. They consider themselves highly aware of what’s going on, but they feel that the best they can do is create pseudonym WordPress and Facebook accounts and make periodic comments in perceived anonymity.
- And finally, there is the “Other” group. Like in U.S. politics where there is a large populace who neither identify 100% as either a Democrat or Republican, we have Brethren who are not Blind Followers, but neither do they consider themselves any form of Defender. They know in their hearts that “something” has changed, and that the change is extremely uncomfortable, but their bone-deep fear of either losing their membership or the possibility of Disconnection from their loved-ones serves to keep them effectively silent about their concerns as they continue to serve as best they can. They listen to the ad infinitum “sermons” about the importance of remaining a member of the church, obeying without question, and giving $$$ till it hurts with sadness, but they trust that God has a plan for His Church and will – in the end – resolve any issues that it may be experiencing.
That brings us to The Main Issue that will (I believe) make the final difference.
Some common adages about Trust are:
- “Trust takes a long time to earn, a moment to destroy, and a lifetime to repair.”
- “Trust is like crumpled paper – You can flatten it out, but it will never be the same again.”
- “After you break a person’s Trust, they may eventually forgive you, but they will never fully Respect you again.”
It’s clear that each of the Four Types of Members have different levels of Trust toward EVM and the administration. However, the one thing they all have in common is Human Nature. Humans usually react the same to Broken Trust. They abhor the person(s) who betrayed them, and they respond very slowly toward repairing that broken trust. The only difference is >> Each of us has our own unique threshold on how long and how much it takes to break that Trust.
The other factor is Exposure.
Those who – by natural proximity or by choice – have been more intensely or more often exposed to perceived wrongdoings are more likely to reach their Trust Threshold more quickly.
Keeping these two factors in mind, it’s very easy to see the incremental and escalating affect that Broken Trust has been having on the Church and its members during the last year, or so. Additionally, the number of members who are able to completely divorce themselves from what’s going on is shrinking rapidly, mostly due to two things:
- The activities going on at 36TS. This is now international news and getting larger by the day.
- The desperate actions by the administration in response to challenges of its authority.
I believe that it will not necessarily be the actions and opinions of anonymous bloggers or open Defenders that will serve as the final deciding factor in this matter. Nor do I feel that it will simply go away. The two examples mentioned above have one single unifying element:
It is their constant and repeated OVER-reaction and poor choices at 36TS that are causing the rapid escalation emotions and national exposure. If they hadn’t built their walls, posted their guards, stonewalled assistance efforts, and so on, then there’d be no news. Now, news agencies across the world have turned their gaze toward this remote address and are globally assigning two labels to it: “Atrocity” and “Cult Church”. Now, millions who have never heard of the Iglesia Ni Cristo are learning about us for the first time through this horrible example, and their reactions have been revulsion and disgust.
Then there are the pitiable “Sermons” being shoveled out during each “Worship Service”.
For many months now, the lessons have all been variations on the exact same theme, over and over and over again. I have spoken to many “Die Hard” members – members who I’ve long considered Blind Followers – and even these stalwarts are wondering what’s going on. They are complaining (silently, for now) that they’re tired of NOT receiving nourishing lessons anymore. They are disheartened by being beaten over the head during each service to remain members, obey blindly, give till it hurts, and propagate the faith… rinse-wash-repeat. And if the number of these blind followers who are beginning to question what’s going on continues to grow, then the church – as a whole – is in deep trouble.
The administration needs to stop thinking like Cult Leaders who are desperate to hold on to their cash cow – RE-acting only with intimidation and aggressiveness. The brethren – of all four types – are hungry for leadership that offers the compassion and love that they were used to. And if things don’t get better soon, then the First Group – the blind followers – will become so few in number that the church will not survive.
To EVM and the administration >> You are incrementally breaking the Trust of all of those who you have sworn to serve and lead. Whatever your motivations, if you do not stop what you are doing at 36TS, and if you do not immediately stop acting like cult leaders (evidenced in your depressing and brutish lessons), then YOU will be the instrument of demise for the Church of Christ.
You can’t say that you weren’t warned.