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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, April 11, 2014

Come Home with your Diversity

We are all familiar with the phrase, “I am a spiritual person, not a religious person. There are mega adherents to this philosophy in society. Many of these good folks are our children, siblings, friends and people who we interact with every day. From their perspective, organized religion is church and it is hard to break free of that label for indeed that is who we are in Community of Christ. There are systemic attitudes held towards the institution of church. There is politics, $$, perceived restrictions, exclusivity, time and place schedules that oblige one to attendance, boring rituals within spectator like settings. Church competes with alluring life activities that families greatly value. Even though major transitions have already been actively implemented within leadership and programming offerings of our church the communication channels to the grass roots have many hurdles in connecting with people. To begin with, there are time constraints and unwillingness of peripheral members to read, listen, attend and involve themselves due to perceptions of having been there, done that, so why bother even looking into or investing time and energy into something which is trying to displace what my life is fully enjoying now. Further most of those I knew are no longer there as well so the social dynamics are weak too......... The above applies to those who are both spiritually inclined and those who are just busy with life.

How do we as a church break free of these perceptions and reconnect with those who mean so much to us?   

I attended an extra-curricular expression of our church the other night that has appeal to those primarily on the periphery of the more liberal spiritual persuasion. I invited my son who has a growing spirituality, yet is not a religious person. On our ride home, my son posed a question to me following a spirited discussion about the changing nature of Community of Christ. He was intrigued by the new directions of the church, but, “why after one has explored other spiritual avenues which are found to be meaningful, would one go back to the church which they had found to be irrelevant with their life and interests?

We discussed diversity specifically within Community of Christ, as I wanted the conversation to be personal as this was the church of our own heritage. I expressed I hoped that to begin with, there might be a sense of loyalty to heritage and family. Then, to see oneself as a valued “family” contributor of worthful diversity to enhance the church beyond where it is in creating relevancy. I expressed that all authors and leaders with followings and organizations, even the ones he reads about and likes, go through transitions as do the people within them. Change is imminent. They just happen to appeal to him at this point in his life in their point on their journey. Why not invest in our family journey together and explore the diverse in our community and introduce newness to the expressions of our “heritage” church. We are a church that has even taken the radical step to change its name to create a new identity, signifying a willingness to embark upon a new journey of discovery that involves us all together.

Of course a church needs to be spiritually attuning itself, accepting, hospitable, progressive, open, inclusive and dialogical for this institutional “conversion” and open conversation to take place. This phrase does describe the "journeying" Community of Christ. We also need new inviting settings of intersection with the larger community of ideas and spiritual awareness beyond our doors or we continue to be homogeneous. As the coming together of diverse people, ideas and innovations create tension; we need multiple gathering expressions of our community to nurture safe places of dialogue. These unique models would enable diversity under the umbrella of a unified and accepting Body of Christ, exemplifying blessing and order in our distinctiveness. Small group ministry is a perfect vehicle for enabling diversity. Cluster gatherings of our numerous expressions of the church where all equally participate together, allow the church to be more completely relevant. In these gatherings, in the presence of the Divine, our social interaction creates meaningful sacred community. I believe Community of Christ has entered this pathway of transition to become more relevant and is open to and exploring ways to offer more innovative and diverse expressions of the church.

In our Mission area, one expression that brings together many spiritual folks who may not find the traditional format of the church meaningful in their lives, is our “Freeing and Healing of the Spirit” reunion. For those who attend, this is a genuine sacred expression of Community of Christ. May we embrace its intersection with those who bring diversity to enrich the whole. The church is trying to birth new expressions of being relevant. Diversity is a blessing we need.

May we invite those of our heritage who have journeyed beyond the familiar to re-engage with us in new expressions of our family and “Come Home” to bless us and be blessed. What joy could exceed this experience of finding one another in the embracing of our souls.

Submitted by Kerry

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