After our conversation this last Sunday night at our gathering, I have been thinking long and hard about the dynamics of our space and where we are with each other. We are building a foundation… after all it has been about nine months of meeting and growing together. We have moved around… done a lot of talking… done a lot of thinking… seen people come and go. There are now those of us who are asking for more. The time is coming for us to begin asking the questions of how we teach each other, how we refine things.
This refining is what I have been looking forward to. The things that we hold so valuable like making community decisions, serving each other, being invitation, really listening and paying attention to the needs of the community. We are finally beginning to figure out how we might do that.
This is a lot more challenging. To lead in a way that is not just calling the shots, but to encourage, wonder together, ask the right questions, provide places for people to grow… this is where I find myself now. We have been talking about “Why we do what we Do?“, wondering together about the significance of eating together, holding sacred space, and valuing silence in a group that spends a lot of time talking. As I think ahead to this weeks’ conversation, “Journeying together… meeting each other wherever we are,” I am trying to find the right question.
How do we talk in a way that doesn’t alienate the person who can’t stand the idea of church? How do we empathize with the one who has pain towards religion, yet not alienate the one who is ok with organized religion? How do we say what we think, yet with the sensitivity of how the other will hear it? How can we make sure that if someone enters into our midst with some very deep needs and questions, we don’t miss it?
I’m not sure if the rest of the group will find value in these questions… whether Jesus offers insight into this wondering… or whether we can really learn anything from each other on this one. Insight is welcome.
8 thoughts on “Journeying together”
I think it is important to be sensitive to people, however, I think that only goes so far. If we are constantly on eggshells afraid that we might offend someone we never get to learn anything about one another, thus never achieving a deeper and more meaningful level of community.
If we can’t be in fellowship with one another even after we find out that something that the other holds dear has caused us pain (i.e. church) then we are just a bunch of like-minded people (not a good thing in my opinion).
If we truly are interested in being community we must be able to be with those that we disagree with the most.
I love your thoughts… and our conversation last night was golden. I have learned so much talking to Kyle and others who have been pained by the church. I want to comment on your middle paragraph there.
I wonder if it’s possible to get to a point that no matter what people say or do (even in regards to things that we hold most dear… church), we are not offend or hurt by them. I say by them because what if their pain becomes our pain rather than us feeling as though they are hurting us. After all it is their experience or perceptions and we cannot tell them it is not true. It is what it is for them. We can look at the present situation and move forward from there. Walking the journey…. together.
Remember when you and I were talking and I said I hope to show people that there must be no drawing lines in the sand? There is no end to our fellowship or to our love. It just keeps going. When we commit to the relationship, to the journey, its ok to disagree.
I have also been thinking about picking my battles. Now I might be able to learn how to say things that offend in a different way that is not offensive (questions, wonderings, etc) because I know that someone may not have the capacity to continue on in relationship that I wish they had. I know, though, that I am committed to this thing, and that they cannot offend me, so I do not censer them in any way. When people are at a point of not being offended by what i think, they will know that they can ask and I will tell them. It’s more nuanced for me than simply saying what I think or not.
I think it is okay to challenge people to step out of their comfort zones. I think we need to love those that come into our fellowship the way they are, but love them enough to help them grow. Sometimes that requires stepping on toes, but if you can’t be real and honest with the ones you grow together with, then the relationship at it’s core needs work. The gospel by nature was offensive to a lot of it’s hearers… sometimes that is what is needed to grow…to produce fruit you have to prune and caretake. It’s often painful…but productive.
Heidi and I were talking and she made a comment that I found interesting:
“If we never draw lines in the sand then we are just lost in the dessert.”
Granted, we need boundaries. I am all for that. But lines in the sand are not just boundaries. They are lines that say I’m on this side and you are on that side. We cannot walk together. We cannot go forward together. If this is our attitude towards those who think, act, theologize differently than us… there will be no reconciliation on earth.
We will not be lost in the desert without the lines. At the least, we will not be alone. At the best, we will have more people who collectively have a better understanding of where we are going.
But I think it is more important to state your position clearly so the other knows where you stand than to be passive aggressive and not tell them but still try to be in relationship. I think this can create false relationships, not better ones. It is no only ok to disagree with someone and still be in close loving relationship, but I think it is essential since we are not all alike and will always disagree on some things.
The Presbyterian church is having this argument over gay ordination, where we are being asked to agree to disagree and get on with loving each other. Some are all for this and others think they must remove themselves from this conversation. I am beginning to have less sympathy for this “think like me or at least don’t try to make me think like you or I cannot remain in relationship with you.” Diversity of ideas, thoughts, passionate stands and other world views is a good thing and needs to be fostered not avoided.
I’m definitely with you on that one, Bob.