Thriving Congregations. Anti-Racist Organizations. Compassionate Communities. A Country that Respects All People.
I hear people tell me that This Is What We Want. And they are looking for the quickest, most painless strategic plans.
Not gonna happen.
And it’s offensive and maybe even traumatizing to expect quick and painless fixes.
Some LGBTQ+ colleagues pointed out to me this week that the social media offers last week to officiate quick LGBTQ+ weddings in light of Amy Coney Barrett’s approval as a Supreme Court Justice were offensive. Straight pastors (like me) meant well and yet cutting and pasting an offer on Facebook is a ridiculously painless action. Where were straight pastors when it wasn’t yet legal for queer couples to marry? Where are we when our LGBTQ+ clergy colleagues are discriminated against? How are we helping to change the culture?
We – White People – congratulate ourselves when we have A Black Friend or when we put a Black Lives Matter sign in front of our White Church lawn. We call our churches “diverse” when we have two Asian families. But are we struggling with our BIPOC siblings in tangible ways that go further than merely learning about anti-racism? Are we willing to make actual reparations to those whose humanity have been devalued historically?
And when congregations ask me to help them make shifts to become a thriving 21st Century Church, they seem to become very sad when they realize I don’t have an easy recipe to hand them. Like the Rich Young Ruler Jesus talked about – who was told to do a very hard thing – I see many church leaders give up before they even begin to try. It’s just too hard to consider serving the community that doesn’t look like them or cutting the traditional worship budget in order to broaden their virtual presence. They are too tired to change.
And so nothing changes. Or at least nothing substantively changes.
This election week – as cultural divisions have become especially stark – I am trying to process how We The People have landed on such diametrically different sides. It’s not a new issue, of course. And this is my simplistic take to be sure. But it seems to me that there are two basic sides:
- There’s the side that’s feeling comfortable and the world works for them. Or maybe they aren’t comfortable at all but they fear that someone else is going to take what comfort they do have. They don’t want or need Big Change.
- There’s the side that might or might not be comfortable in their personal lives but they see that the world is very uncomfortable for too many people who lack the power and privilege to live safely. They crave Big Change.
Again, this is simplistic. But change is hard. We who are comfortable must want to be uncomfortable in terms of facing our own complicity. We must be willing to make sacrifices for those outside our bubble.
It would also be excellent if the misinformation about each other would stop.
So – this is what I’m pondering Election Week.
Note: I’m always grateful for my conversation partners and other denominational leaders and my therapist who stretch my mind and forgive me when I’m wrong. Their voices are in this post too.
>>it’s offensive and maybe even traumatizing to expect quick and painless fixes.<< Yes. That's how I feel about pandemic. There is no quick fix and we must be patient.