I was having a conversation with PC the other day. He made some comments that really resonated with me and have been rolling around my head a little bit. He said we needed unity, not uniformity. That made me start thinking, whats the problem with the church nowadays?
We have these incredible organizations and hierarchies and power structures that continuously legislate from on high. We call them denominations. I've been a part of the Lutheran denomination for my whole life and part of that seems to come preset with a certain condesention to other denominations. Maybe its only my issues but why can't we all just get along? I realize that I am on the fringe left of what is considered "polite christianity" but i believe that my belief and faith are just as valid as anybody else's so why wouldn't I extend the same courtesy to people who don't agree with me. I believe its time for followers of the Way to get their act together.
At the Exponential conference in Orlando this past spring author Regie McNeil asked the collective group "How many churches are in your home town?" I automatically thought of our own church, St. Aiden's the Episcopal Church, St. John's and Messiah the other Lutheran churches and before I could think of anymore he yelled "ONE! There is only ONE church!" Wow. Reality check anybody? I was blown away that I could be so stupid a.) not to see it coming and b.) to box in the power of God in my community and in the world.
So I'm one of those people who doesn't like to be a complainer without having any sort of answer for the problem, but this is kind of a big one. I dont presume that I will be able to reunite the church in the world and have us singing Kum Bah Yah by the end of the year, but I think I can start by changing my attitude and charging people around me to do the same thing. Here's what I propose. 1. I'm going to do everything I can to withhold judgement and criticism from other churches... yes that means even pushing myself to stop rolling my eyes every time I hear Joel Osteen or Rick Warren's name. 2. I will make every effort to eliminate politics from the life of my ministry. 3. I'm going to actively look for ways to work in ecumenical coordination with a person or ministry that is not Lutheran. 4. I'm going to ask all of you to keep me in check on this. If you hear or see me breaking one of these, call me on it. That isn't to say I won't be critical of any others if I feel something seriously damaging is being done in Christ's name or that I won't be open to discussions and conversations with people of differing opinions. I love the debate and discussion and talks that can happen, but what I am going to mindfully and intentionally do is remove the superiority from my attitude. I'm not a perfect person, I'll be the first to admit when I fall short, but hopefully I'll be able to keep taking baby steps and move in the right direction.
Unity, not uniformity. What do you think? Do you think that this is something that can be achieved? Do you think I will be able to live out these goals? Anybody want to attempt these with me? Leave your comments, questions and speculation in the comments section, all comments are welcome!
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