sorry it has taken me so long to get these posts up, but here we go...
so as i said before, the first sunday of two gatherings was great...exhausting but great. it reminded us of the fact that there are people who haven't heard the story of missiongathering and the expression of God's grace that we strive to be. the people who typically find out about mission in our neighborhood have seen a billboard, a rave card, an ad in glt or citybeat, or better yet have been invited by a friend. most of those people are checking us out because they have been searching for a progressive church where they might experience the healing of God's love and grace.
in bringing future of forestry in to do the music for the kick-off of our evening service, it brought people who haven't had any context for who we are - a Jesus-centered, loving church with progressive theology. that sunday also happened to be the launch of our sanctuaries (our small groups) for which there was a flier inserted in the bulletin listing the groups. as soon as i finished announcements and stepped off the stage, a young man approached me. it was his first time at mission, and was there for the band. he introduced himself, and immediately pointed at the flier and asked, "what's this all about?" he was directing my attention to the gay men's and lesbian women's sanctuaries. i said, "those are groups for gay men and lesbian women to meet together and discuss their faith journey." he immediately launched into his (what seemed rehearsed...) argument against homosexuality. this was all taking place right next to the stage in the middle of our service during our "pass the peace" (ironic?) time when we mingle and meet new people. he was still arguing with me as rich was taking the stage to start preaching. i let him know that i'd love to visit more with him after the gathering, and he then walked out, taking several friends with him, and they didn't return.
it's a shame they didn't return, because i think they could have benefited from the message that night. rich talked about the need for people of differing opinions - nations, churches, politicians - to sit together at the table of dialogue. people aren't always going to agree on everything...how boring would that be?! and granted, dialogue is difficult. yet people seem too often to take the road of rallying around those different than themselves to create a common enemy...that seems to be easier than wrestling with the possibility that your ideas could change. (i've got a whole post coming on the topic of "the other.")
what did i learn from this? information in print doesn't communicate the same thing to everyone if everyone doesn't know the story of the one printing it. i have gotten comfortable in the fact that a majority of the community/neighborhood in which i live has been exposed to the story of missiongathering. when we invite people from outside of that microcosm, we need to use the lens/filter of retelling our story in the midst of communicating things that are going on in our church. then maybe in the context of that story dialogue can ensue with those who differ with us. ~aroll