Faithfulness is Disruptive

My denomination has been disrupted and we don’t yet know the consequences. disruptive-innovation

Last week – as documented on the front page of the New York Times, our General Assembly approved (rather overwhelmingly) an overture to change the definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” Also approved (barely) was a vote to divest denominational investments from three corporations that supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

Some people are very upset.

In throes of hate mail, calls for congregations to leave the denomination, and general anxiety among many faithful Presbyterians, an usher welcomed me into worship yesterday, and upon learning that I work for the Presbytery of Chicago, he shared that he might leave the church and that he was tired of “the church being led by children who interfere in issues they have no business talking about.” Good to meet you too.

In the meantime, HH and I received a text from our 20-something FBC sharing that he was proud of the Presbyterians and that lots of his friends were talking positively about the denomination of his baptism. Believe me, this was a first.

Disruptive innovation is a concept in technological development in which – initially – results/performance/growth might be lower, but eventually there is prosperity as traditional parameters change. Check it out here.

After years of prayerful conversations, studies, debates, and even General Assembly voting, GA 211 finally made a disruptive decision: to change the definition of marriage to include GLBTQ couples and to stand with oppressed Palestinians – both Christian and Muslim. Some people will leave the church. Some will send hate mail. Many will misrepresent what happened in Detroit.

But innovation is disruptive. And faithfulness is even more disruptive. Thanks to all the commissioners who worked so tirelessly last week in Detroit.


6 responses to “Faithfulness is Disruptive

  1. Excellent! We had similar issues here in the UK within the Batist Union (which is a union of independent congregations not a presbytery), decided to allow Ministers to affirm marriages between same sex couples where their congregations desired it and if their conscience allowed. No change at all to the way we are organised but a positive step for many ministers. Yet an unbelievable amount of panic and misunderstanding ensued. But sometimes we have to take a bold step and stick our heads above the parapet in order to do as Jesus commanded and ‘Love’.


  2. Pingback: Controversy is Baked Right In: On Marriage, the Middle East, and the Presbyterian Church | MaryAnn McKibben Dana

  3. Just one small note: It is descriptive language, not definition, that is up for change in the Directory for Worship. We don’t get to define marriage, civilly or ecclesiastically, only to choose whether to recognize and celebrate it. The great significance for me of the marriage votes was to free ministers to answer their calls and the needs of their communities.


  4. Thirdcareerpastor

    Thank you for your forward looking perspective. Having a child in the field of management and development has helped me understand that sometimes risk and disruption are necessary, and yet, didn’t I know that all along – I met this guy 59 years ago…well, that’s another story and we’re still together, thank you very much! The risk was worth it: four children, nine grandchildren, one great grandchild and more to come – risk? disruption? It’s called living into the call Christ has given you at birth!


  5. Catherine Knott

    Well stated, Jan. We live into hope, after all.


  6. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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