March 13, 2011 1 Comment
“Church” conjures up all sorts of images for people. It is easy to see church in terms of Sundays, printed bulletins, bands, choirs, organs, hymns, stained glass, and fights over who may or may not use the kitchen. Sadly, it is possible to “belong” to a church and yet not be part of a community. It is also easy to dismiss the arts (in all of the five major forms: music, painting, sculpture, writing and dance), business, entertainment, the sciences, hospitality, research and development and to consider them not part of church at all.
1. I want to be a part of a church that values all people, regards all people as gifted and talented, and encourages the talents of others to be realized to their maximum, empowering people to discover their deepest longings, realize their wildest dreams, while meeting the needs of others both near and far.
2. I want to be part of a Church that sends people to the farthest parts of the world as helpers, teachers, construction workers and children workers.
3. I want to be part of a Church that meets to celebrate life in times of joy, to mourn and cry at times of sadness and struggle.
4. I want to be part of a church that studies and researches the issues of faith, life and relationships, that honors the achievements of people through the regular practice of shared and valued rituals. I have a cartoon where a vicar is greeting parishioners after a worship service. “Nothing personal. Nothing personal. Nothing personal,” he says to each person, offering a limp handshake to people as they pass by on the way out of the church. [Also, try to see the “Mr. Bean” sitcom where he attends church. It is a good laugh for anyone who’s struggled with the normal church fight over traditional and so-called contemporary worship styles.]
5. I want to be part of a Church that reflects the broader community, encourages community, embraces community and solves its problems through negotiation that occurs within community. I want to be a part of the village that raises children, for my sons to live in such a village and to assume their appropriate and growing roles within that village.
6. I want to be in a community where all types of music, dance, and art are encouraged and accepted, where the art and the expression of it are enjoyed within the body and offered also to the world around it.
7. I want to be a part of a church that has a high regard for humor; that values adventure and fun; that carries a mindset that believes God is Involved and God’s Involvement Brings God Great Pleasure.
8. I want to be a part of a community that understands that God loves because God is nice, that God is more than a Father but also a combination of other attributes like Judge, Peacemaker, Provider, Motivator, Brother, Sister, and Friend.
9. I want to be a part of a church where leadership doesn’t know everything and does not pretend it does; where questions can be debated, ideas shared; where arguments can be intense, where matters of faith are processed through a multiple of counselors and where no one person is seen as possessing all the answers, all the authority, all the power but where the essence of the Gospel (reconciliation between people, the establishment of The Kingdom, peacemaking and societal justice) carries the day.
10. I want to be part of a Church where relationships (the mutual pursuit of knowledge, the arts, the offering of support to others in times of success and failure, times of need and in times of plenty) are more important than programs, the style of music or the acquisition, use of, or style of buildings.
11. I want to be part of a Church where the sermon (on occasions that there is one) is topical, relevant, Biblical, and address the everyday dilemmas of everyday people. I want to hear preaching that promotes morality without moralizing, where truth is proclaimed in love without judgment, where Grace is expressed through the trust exercised among friends.
12. I want to be part of a Church that serves communion with great regularity, recognizing that the symbolic presentations of bread and wine celebrate the very gifts of life, forgiveness and renewal. I want to eat bread for nourishment and recognize my elemental need of food with all of Earth’s people. I want the eating of these common foods to reflect my acceptance of the common lot I enjoy with all people and eat these simple foods in the hope that I will not forget the poor, disenfranchised, hungry, lonely and weak.
13. I want to be part of a Church where flawed, fallible leaders have not lost their zeal or their sense of adventure but possess a penchant for fun, for learning, writing and reading. I do not want perfect leadership but leaders who are not too jaded to encourage me in my faith or too “faith friendly” that they have stopped trusting God in new, dynamic ways.