The first meeting of Confirmation Class and the titles of some posts I caught the other day through Facebook [· 12 Reasons Why It Is Good To Be A Church Bully · Why Do So Many Pastors Leave The Ministry? · 5 Churchy Phrases That Are Scaring Off Millennials] got me thinking about the things we do and don’t do in church.
Churches can be places that are pretty much the opposite of what one would hope: · Bullies who are neither loved nor limited. · Pastors who experience harassment. · Christians who are judgemental and mean toward one another. · Preachers (and others) who downplay and oversimplify the questions and challenges of the Bible and of faith. In the old prayer of confession I grew up with we prayed “we have done those things we ought not to have done” (aka sins of commission). We’re more likely to notice these.
In that old prayer, we also confessed, “we have left undone those things we ought to have done” (aka sins of omission). This isn’t about an incomplete to-do list. It’s in part about ways we as a church fail to do what we know is most important. At confirmation, young people, particularly, reflect on what it means to be a Christian. After that, too many of us put our beliefs on a shelf and don’t think much about them, except in crisis. That’s a grave omission – one that’s led people to give up on church.
At its best, church can be a place for: · real and deep community · authenticity · caring · support · a positive reputation in the community · freedom to ask BIG questions and have help exploring them · beliefs put into practice · laughter · intergenerational relationships · joy. What would you add to this list? What does being part of the church mean to you? What “more” do you wish for?
If we’re going to be a place that young people and young families want to be, we will need to find ways: · to do more of what’s important · to do less of what’s not · to be who we long to be · to deepen and broaden our capacity for spiritual conversation · to build bridges into the community.
As we go about our life and tasks as church, let’s ask ourselves if we’re doing things we don’t need to be instead of doing things we do need to be. May we grow in discerning discipleship.