Yes, the local church is to be a house of prayer and worship, but it must also be a place of action and mobilization. The era of the country club church, the membership club for insiders, is over (if it was ever sanctified at all to begin with).
Like the beauty of the azalea, the radiance of its petals, the graciousness of its presence and the brightening power of its existence, this we are in God’s eyes in the world. We are unique without comparison and fearfully and wonderfully made.
If adherence to the traditional forms of church and its mores can still result in catastrophe, then why bother? When pastors and presidents are guilty as hell of heinous wrongdoing; when leaders of faith and of civic life metaphorically and literally abuse those in their care; where, then, are we left to turn?
After our Sunday visits, I drove home, passing the church I had attended for years but couldn’t return to. There was just no way to clean my brother up enough to go there. Sometimes living is messy. And churches don’t do messy.
As a Christian educator, I think about those wise words and wonder: When does a child learn he or she is a child of God? God has something to say on this.
Clarkston is a microcosm of what America will look like in the coming years. This sounds like a very optimistic vision of a great future filled with unity in diversity, a future where everyone lives together in harmony. But it is worth pointing out that this new reality of diversity in culture and demographics poses new challenges not only in the political realm but also in our communities and churches.
The economy has shifted, globally, nationally and locally and there’s not much we can do about it. In other towns, distant and different from Central Texas, something similar is happening in an industry we might call “church.”
One of the most impactful ideas from the NEXT Church National Gathering centered around the importance of giving our youth space to share their stories.
“This all sounds great, but I have to ask: how much were you working each week to make this happen?” This honest question, asked in the workshop I was co-leading on intergenerational ministry, was one that I wasn’t quite ready for.
I would encourage the planners of future NEXT Church National Gatherings to make this “Holy Time” for People of Color to gather together separately a new tradition. I would also suggest that during this time the group consider adopting the norm of “carefronting.”