i was at a really lovely meeting a few weeks ago with a bunch of pastors, and it was wonderfully hopeful except for one thing–there were only three female pastors and a whole lot of white male ones, and not one person of color. even though i know this is reality, it still always startles me.
then i heard about a new local church plant that intrigued me. i tried to be hopeful about what type of community it might be, and then i looked at their website. it was full of numbers and church growth-y kinds of things that just made me feel so irritated. it perpetuates my theory that people with resources build churches quick and fast and make it happen. in a snap. with the right music, teaching, kids program, location, and logo–voila, a resourced “excellent” church. hmm.
yesterday i was at the refuge’s open space hours where people can drop by for free lunch & advocacy & hugs & a place to access resources without it feeling weird. i’ve always wanted a “cheers bar without the alcohol,” and this is what it is starting to feel like. it’s so fun!
these three things are completely different but are all linked together by one thread–church dreams.
i would love to see the local church be a more accurate reflection of the kingdom of God, not of the world where power is tilted toward men and the pretty and the popular always are on top and feeling comfortable is our number one priority.
so today, here are some my little “what if….” dreams for the church:
what if… every church leadership structure had an equal number of men & women in positions of power and influence.
what if… after we balanced that one out, the leaders represented a wide range of socioeconomics, color, age, life experiences, education, and political views.
what if… the “pulpit” and teaching/preaching was equally shared by men and women so we heard both voices as a natural expression of life together.
what if… we spent the majority of our energy cultivating community, friendship, and ways for people to hear each other’s real stories.
what if… anyone and everyone in the community could be invited to lead and share and contribute and be part without signing on the dotted lines or jumping through any hoops.
what if… sharing food and eating together and laughing and celebrating anything-and-everything-we-possibly-could-that-brought-hope were an integral part of life together.
what if… every microphone and screen and band was completely unplugged at least once a month and everyone used that hour at church talking to each other instead.
what if… being uncomfortable was valued. for the life of me, i can’t think how comfort and ease became associated with Jesus’ ways.
what if… instead of thinking “what can i get out of church” people said “how can i contribute to loving others and growing into a more whole & healthy person as part of this church?”
what if… once a month every bit of a church’s offering was given to a local organization that was in the trenches serving the poor and marginalized, whether it was faith-based or not.
what if… every person felt empowered to live out their passions and gifts in some way that is not necessarily connected to the church.
what if… rich and poor, conservative and liberal, gay and straight, educated and uneducated, brown and white, young and old learned how to live alongside each other in the same space as equals, as brothers and sisters and friends.
what if… instead of planting a brand new church in the area that would bring 500 people together every week, they created 10 pockets of love of 50 people and asked everyone who was already there–churches and community agencies–“what do you need and how can we support the work that’s already happening?”
what if… pouring into the young people through long-haul flesh & blood relationship was the top priority and they each had a grownup outside of their family that believed in them.
what if… when you walked in the door of church, everybody knows your name. and everybody’s glad you came.
there are so many more, but those are a few i-truly-believe-they-are-possible-and-am-seeing-some-of-them-in-real-life for this morning that make me smile.
let’s keep planting new trees.
i’d love to hear some of yours.