The Courageous Church

I would love to say that most of our institutional spiritual communities are very brave, but I’m not sure I believe that.  (That’s Southern Speak for I don’t believe that.)  It’s understandable that most of our congregations – especially those under a membership of 150 –  find themselves in survival/scared mode.

God makes us brave.  A sure awareness of the Holy Spirit fills us, not only with a peace that passes all understanding, but also with a confidence beyond all understanding.  And these are the perfect days to call on God to make our congregations courageous.

This is what a courageous church looks like:

  • They call the Pastor that the Holy Spirit tells them to call, even if she/he doesn’t look like a) the typical pastor and/or b) the kind of pastor who has always served their congregation.  In other words:  No More Pulpit Candy.
  • They have The Conversation about doing something drastic about their worship space:  remove pews?  shift seating arrangement?  sell the @&!x# building?
  • They encourage/implore/require their pastor to spend more time in the community than in the church building.
  • They come together ready to learn how to be deployed to serve a broken community, rather than gathering to be taken care of   themselves.
  • They stick their lives into other people’s crazy.  They are willing to sit with the chemo patient, eat lunch with the homeless person, listen to the illiterate child learn to read, go with the arrested kid to the police station.
  • The last things on their minds are:  I need a nice venue for my funeral/my daughter’s wedding/my grandchild’s baptism.

What else would you add to this list on a lovely Monday morning?

Image is of the building where one of the most courageous churches I know gathers for worship in Chicago.

15 responses to “The Courageous Church

  1. Wonderful, Jan!


  2. Things like this are why I love you madly.


  3. Wow, not one word about teaching the Word of God to the congregation, though. A courageous pastor teaches, and a courageous congregation comes to learn God’s word. All of God’s word, not just the feel-good parts. A courageous pastor spends time delving into God’s word so that the congregation is equipped to go out into the world, fully prepared to deal with all the difficult places in life. There are too many pastors that get so caught up in the social reform, and their congregations are starving for God’s word.


  4. They don’t think disagreement is a sign of failure but an opportunity to listen and grow. They are aware of the difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict and are willing to go to places where everyone may not agree.


  5. Thanks for continuing to call the church to courage, Jan. I would love to see a follow up blog post, entitled ‘the courageous pastor.’ I am afraid that we pastors are as vulnerable to fearful behavior as churches are.


  6. Provide a venue and a “safe” place where members can discuss and listem to others views on the currently divisive issues facing and being dealth with in the PCUSA.


  7. I encounter the lack of courage right off the bat when <150 churches are unwilling even to consider a first-call pastor.


  8. I had the pleasure of a wonderful worship experience in that building. May all congregations have the courage you describe.


  9. They have The Other Conversation about what it means to be deeply relational–all the time–and not just when they are “doing church” or “doing mission”


  10. Jan, may I have your permission to distribute copies of this post to our session tomorrow night? The spiritual formation portion of our meeting is on mission, and this would go a long way toward making the scriptural (“God is a ‘sending’ God”) concrete.


  11. Pingback: Dear Pastor Search Committee, | achurchforstarvingartists

  12. This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Many thanks!


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