When I expressed my concern to someone during a break of a conference, she told me, "Just keep teaching the truth."
KEEP teaching the truth? What truth? Since when do I make statements of absolute truth in my teaching style? Huh?
It took till the next break for me to digest those words enough to say, "Wait! Are you saying these people have potentially left the church over doctrinal issues?"
"Yes, that's the problem. But I can't say any more about it because of confidentiality issues."
I chewed on this a while more. Really? How could they possibly be so offended as to leave the church? Really? My mind ran over and over recent scenes and exchanges. The pleasant conversation on the ski lift. The Saturday night laughter. Really? They were walking away from it all without a word? Over ... doctrine?! Really? What doctrine coming from whom?
Then I laughed. No. This was not true! There's no way in the world they had walked away from the sweet fellowship we were enjoying without a word because of doctrinal issues. 1) They aren't nearly that concerned about doctrine. 2) If they WERE suddenly that concerned, why would they leave the church when they could simply crank up their level of participation in our discussions and enjoy some good give-and-take over it all? Why leave when you can stick around and argue?
A few weeks later these people joined the church. I never found out what happened during their brief hiatus, probably because it had nothing to do with the church and was none of my business.
The point of my story is this: Why would anyone leave the church over music issues as long as those overseeing the music were willing to hear their concerns and they saw continuing potential for salvaging the music program so that they and their peers could more fully enter into the spirit of worship? Who walks away from a conversation while the other side is still intently listening and responding to what they are saying?
It takes at least two parties to create an impasse. One to set up immovable barriers and the other to insist that the barriers be moved. Although many people can probably cite instances where it was absolutely necessary to draw a line in the sand and take whatever steps necessary to keep it from being crossed, I suspect we deal much more with barriers perceived to be immovable and a sense of unconcern for those who have a problem with those barriers than any true boundaries that we must maintain for spiritual, ethical, or safety issues. The color of the carpet has never fallen into such a category and has yet to be the true issue when someone leaves the church.
Which leads to another question: Why am I, a born hanger-onner and 33-year member of a single church, investing so many words supporting those who find it impossible to stay? Somehow, I just can't find it in my heart to say, "Well, obviously the problem lies with them rather than us. Good riddance. We're better off without them." If I hear someone say that about someone else today, I will know there's a good chance I will be the one bruising my shins against that level of hardness in their heart tomorrow.