Welcome to the ULC Minister's Network

Patriarch ISAAC

Where Faith Goes to Die

  •  As a minister is it always our biggest fear to be prepared for service and on time to find a room full of empty seats. We dream of it happening to each of us. Why? Because this is a sign that faith has died. Faith in ourselves as a leader; Faith in our beliefs of our religion; Faith in all we stand for. The problem is we had faith and belief. We can not force faith on others though. 

    Faith is defined as a Belief, Trust, or Confidence, not based on Logic, Reason, or Empirical studies, but based fundamentally on Volition often associated with a Transpersonal relationship with God, a Higher power, a Person, elements of Nature, and/or a perception of the Human race as a whole. Faith can be placed in a person, inanimate object, State of affairs, Proposition or body of propositions such as a religious Creed.

    When you look at this definition it appears to be a broad one. But when you simplify it Faith just means believing when all else fails. 

    As a minister I have faith that my congregation will grow and that I will not let any of them down. This is a huge step for anyone and those who are in my shoes understand what I mean. To be a minister is a full time job without pay mostly nor benefits as most would understand it. The benefits we really see are the change in someone’s life as they found acceptance. The smiles on a sick persons face as you are visiting them. The benefit of helping someone by being there whenever you are needed, including all hours of the night. 

    We as ministers can have all the faith we want, but the harsh cold reality is, usually not all of our congregation will. Someone will lose faith in us and stop believing at some point in every minister’s career, even the best of us. As a minister this hurts and we look and turn to see what we did wrong. How did we lose that one person? How could we have done it all different? Where did the faith end?

    These are questions that sometimes we have to place into the hands of God and allow Him to guide us. We are not Him, and therefore we do not know all of the answers. Was it a test of our faith? Possible. Will it happen again? There’s a good chance. 

    Faith has died in most of the people today. They have been burned or scorned in some way by religion. As humans we sometimes have a difficulty in differentiating religion and church. We believe that if the church was bad than the religion is bad so now we have no faith. Why you may ask? That’s because we feel that the next church will do the same. God is punishing us for some reason therefore, if I don’t believe in the church the punishment will cease. 

    This illogical thinking is driving the world today. Faith is diminishing in front of our eyes and the religious leaders are trapped in the middle. Every day a minister looses their way and falls helpless to the same beliefs mentioned. We fall because faith has died in us. We fall because we believed that our seats will be filled one day with members who respect and love us the way we dreamed of loving them. All of us ministers have faith that we will do well and serve well. We can but our congregation must trust us as we trust them. We vow to have open hearts and not judge, but we are human just the same. 

    So where does faith go to die? It goes to the internet. It goes to the families who have been wrongly hurt by a church. It goes deep inside to wither into nothing but cold, darkness. 

    I speak with different people almost daily that tell me why they will never return to a church again. My first question to them is a natural one, where did you use to go? They usually tell me very quickly the name of the church and are more than willing to tell me their story as to why they hate all churches now. My next question to them is usually a little bit more of shocking one to them. Did you try another church afterwards? At that point I usually get a look of shock mixed with “are you kidding me?” To which most usually reply, “No, and I never will” 

    We as humans are quick to lose our faith for this reason. Just by telling you this story you would question your own beliefs and faith in me and God and church. God is not bad; do not lose faith in Him. People can be bad, it’s in our nature. Church is not bad, but sometimes those who lead are. I just ask that if you are going to lose faith in something, please don’t make it the church or God. Make it the people who lead that church and try again. 

    We have a desire to worship in groups. We long for companionship. We live for social events and gatherings. Why would you deprive yourself of something as valuable as this? When you take these desires away you find that you lack wholeness and Spirit. When you lack in faith you lack in you. 

    Remember to keep faith in your hearts no matter how difficult a situation may become. Faith is not a bad thing.

    Yours in Faith,
    Abp Isaac L. Kramer