City Church and things changing in Bend

**Edit:I have made some changes to the following post and comments as I realize it is terribly bad form to begin naming churches in negative ways. I never want to slam churches and what they are trying to do.

Please know that I apologize for the deliberate naming. My feelings don’t change, but better to not name.

Also, in no way am I trying to link City Church with anything else that other churches are doing. My comments are my own and not belonging to City church as a whole.** With that said:

I gotta say I’m proud. Proud of my good friend, Kevin Wright, one of the pastors at the community I am getting involved at, City Church, here in Bend, OR. He has just recently been on the program, The Story, on public broadcasting.

Here’s the LINK for the audio.

City Church | Bend OR

This all reminds me of a post I put up a few months back, about the inevitable division that I see happening within Christianity and within Bend as well. It’s a painful time we are facing right now and going to be facing soon. My thinking in the fall of 2008, was that here in Bend we would see a number of individuals really get raked across the coals because they are trying to think and do Christianity outside the box of traditional Christianity. I had no idea that it would happen so soon.

The dissolving of Oasis I didn’t see coming so soon. I think sometimes we try and soften the impact by letting people know what we think in small doses or doing what we can to change our language to help others digest it better. My thinking is that the same people are going to be effected. It can happen all at once or we can prolong the pain and stretch it out.

Another friend of mine just had a very frustrating and saddening dismissal from his church. This church here in town let him go as there was apparently too many students thinking for themselves and asking questions. At a time when the students were more excited than ever about following Jesus and my friend was more fulfilled than ever in youth ministry, they decided not to renew his contract. He was to be done in two weeks. After many rumors, much incomplete information given, and church politics, my friend and his wife could use some prayer.

So all this has happened in the first two months of 2009. What’s next? I am kind of glad that I am able to do what I am most passionate about independently of the overarching perceptions and pedestals of a church hierarchy. While it is so difficult to imagine, at this point in life, that I will not be paid to do ministry… there is a bit of freedom there. I am called to be a spiritual leader, no a professional pastor-person. We need more spiritual leaders (who actually are not always liked and are not always paid). The spiritual leaders among us need to realize that this must be our first priority and MUST not be compromised.

So yah, 2009 is going to be hard. I imagine many of us trying to do new things will be challenged to our limits. I would give things about a year and hope that in 2010 there will begin to be fashioned a very strong and authentic community expression. We will come together again. Keep listening…

8 thoughts on “City Church and things changing in Bend

  1. Nate,
    I was interested in your line about …, “he was to be done in two weeks.” Not quite the truth. … was given 6 weeks to finish up…and then two full months (another 8 weeks) of severance. In making your point, you neglected to present all of the facts. Isn’t truth, especially within the Church, still considered critical?


  2. Larry,
    Thanks for the clarification. Sorry that I didn’t lay it out there fully. I really am sorry about not saying it all.

    The thing that I wrestle with however is when a church tells the congregation that a pastor is leaving, whether they are on staff after everyone knows or not and whether they have severance or not… they are done. Nothing is the same…. Especially with youth ministry. Youth ministry is such a vulnerable place. You have parents who have so much pressure and students who don’t ever get the full story.

    The youth pastor often gets forgotten in the mix. See, youth pastors main community is the students. They spend so much time with their kids that when they are asked to leave, they don’t have anything left. The kids can’t exactly choose to maintain the relationship because the parents might not want them to… and the youth pastor can’t pursue it because it is a violation of contract. This is SO incredibly painful.

    So my thinking is that when a church tells the congregation that a pastor is done (especially the youth pastor), they are done from that moment. Done with ministry there, done with community, and sometimes even done with reputation… especially when it is told in very vague terms.

    It is impossible to think that a youth pastor can ease out of his position for six weeks after the proclamation is made. That is too much to ask for… and way too messy.

    Thanks for making the clarification.


  3. I have made some changes to the above post and comments as I realize it is terribly bad form to begin naming churches in negative ways. I never want to slam churches and what they are trying to do.

    Please know that I apologize for the deliberate naming. My feelings don’t change, but better to not name.

    Also, in no way am I trying to link City Church with anything else that other churches are doing. My comments are my own and not belonging to City church as a whole.


  4. Does a Church not have the right, nay the responsibility, to assure that their youth are being presented with The Truth (as they see it)?

    Even from a Post-Modern, relativistic view: Does a group of Christians (or anyone) gathering under a common set of beliefs, and wishing to promote and perpetuate those set of beliefs, have the right to raise up and/or remove leadership based on that leadership’s adherence to or rejection of those beliefs?

    Does not the democratic or republican party have the right to raise a “platform” and support only the candidates who agree with the particular platform?

    Can an athletic club decide to only hire those who agree with their particular brand of health promotion?

    This is America. No one is saying Youth Pastor X can not continue to espouse his beliefs elsewhere, but even by secular standards, organizations may set parameters for acceptance and rejection of an individual.

    And so our own Scripture calls us to reject those “preaching a different gospel.”

    So we don’t all agree on what the “Gospel” really is or means. Fine. But there is nothing wrong, un-Christian, or un-Christ-like for a Church or any group to say: “those beliefs don’t fit here. You will have to leave.”

    Kevin’s (at Oasis) attempt to “soften the impact [of his contrary theology] by letting people know what [he was] think[ing] in small doses or doing what [he] can to change [his] language to help others digest it better” was nothing more than deception. I lived through it. Kevin knew good and well that the vast majority of the Church he was pastoring in 2007-8 would not countance his post-modern approach the Holy Scriptures and the Gospel.

    He could have been transparent with the congregation and leadership at the time, taken those in agreement with him and started City Church way back then. He would be right where he is today, and Oasis would still be my home Church. Instead, he hijacked a Church and ran it into the ground. I am still grieving.
    Obfuscation and deception are never good Christian tools for leadership.

    Honesty in termination of a relationship can be.


  5. Janet,
    I am so, so sorry for your pain. Community is never an easy thing… and people get hurt all the time. Being a pastor is such a precarious position because no one wants to be hurt by their pastors… they are supposed to be even better at following Jesus than the rest of us. But they need us. It is so lonely, and very much a thing.

    Kevin, myself, and so many of the Oasis staff are young… so young to be leading communities as spiritual leaders. We need the support of others in our process and our changing ideas. Granted, we may be changing and evolving into a different set of views and ideas than the rest… but there are so many ways of seeing things.

    There are a few things I wonder about in what you write. I’ll address those in the following comment.


  6. You mentioned The Truth… can we agree at least that God is Truth and we cannot ever fully know this? My thought is that the more people who are seeking the better chance we have at a well rounded view of the Truth. The more we try to box the Truth the less likely we are at getting to it… this is not so much post-modern and relativistic, but humility.

    In regards to adhering to a certain set of values and beliefs, aren’t we as Christians mainly to do everything possible to look and act like Jesus? It seems to me that often times when people put this as their highest priority, they often get ridiculed or run out by ones who assume they should adhere to “appropriate” or “right” beliefs.

    Party politics, athletic clubs, and national ideals don’t really work for me as examples as it seems to me that the only standard for Christian community and action should be the extent that we are seeking to live as Jesus.

    In regards to the gospel, is there any gospel other than the kingdom of God is here and all are welcome to join in it? Is this not the good news that Jesus proclaimed? Or is there another gospel that is bigger than that which Jesus was talking about?

    In regards to Kevin and Oasis, I would love to talk more about that via email.

    Thanks so much for your heartfelt response.


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