So I've been thinking about the church, the church I serve, not the church universal. Maybe I should think about that someday, too, but right now I'm on this one. I've talked and thought and preached and probably blogged about our need to find our thing, our mission, our particular way of engaging our community. We've discerned a a project that the church has gotten behind, and that's great. I think it's something we're called to do.
Maybe, though we also need to look at who we are called to be. I lament sometimes that I am the only female minister in town, besides a VERY good friend who is a part time ELCA associate pastor. On top of that there are only 5 churches out of probably about 15 that could even have female ministers. (Another question for another day is, "Why do we have 15 churches in a town of 11,000?"). The churches in this town are conservative. The Christian message folks hear is conservative. Now I don't have too much of a problem with conservative in general, but I do have a problem with judgmental and intolerant. I don't think all of our churches fall in those camps, but I do think there are some. And I do know that some are vocal.
Maybe our church needs to get vocal, too. Maybe we need to make the conscious decision to speak up about who we are and what our distinctive message is. I'm not talking about a distinctive liberal message, because we are not a uniformly liberal congregation by any means. I'd say we probably lean that direction if you average us all up in some sort of numerical fashion, but we are not all in agreement on many theological issues. Yet somehow we live together. Somehow we don't let those things get between us. Somehow we agree to disagree on the non-essentials, and are more interested in giving people are place to grow and a community in which they can belong and worship and serve.
I don't know that it has been conscious. It probably was at some point, at least somewhat during the peace process before I came. Some of our agreeing to disagree may also be "avoiding the conversation" in disguise. I can admit that. However, I think we have a good bit of groundwork already laid to develop our voice in the community as a church WITHOUT all the answers. Maybe it's time we start using that voice.