Q & R: Should we anticipate their diaspora?
Here's a question for my Facebook page (based on the email below): since large numbers of people already have left traditional congregations - and assuming that more will do so in years to come, what should we be doing in response? Nothing? Try to get them back? Encourage them where they are? Create new contexts for gathering? If you're part of this diaspora (dispersal), what do you need?
Here's the Q:
I was so touched by the poignant story of the faithful family that had so many hurdles to deal with while trying to love their church family in the midst of betrayal(s).
The hardest part for me as a regular blog reader and one who so appreciates your writing was the mind set of their pastor: ‘we approached the pastor about leading the study at church, he turned us down. He said it would never happen. He used you as an example. He said you were, “…such a nice guy nobody would suspect how dangerous his ideas are.” ‘
That broke my heart.
I have learned how (from you and other mentors over the years) not to criticize when I start to judge "when others do it wrong”. I always appreciate your gentle responses to such comments that I am sure you have cultivated over the years. When speaking truth and ideas whose time has come, one can expect only the bravest to listen and absorb.
So many have been inspired by your work. The good in it is self-evident to me. Words like that hurt me. How sad for the one who spoke them and believes them. I see now that my response to such comments, ideologies, theologies, has changed more than any thing since reading your work (perhaps maturity on my part as a long time Christian). Your writing and emergent thought (for lack of a better term) in general, is where my heart has been long before I had a name for it.
But now, I want to pray for those that cannot see the ground moving under their feet. I feel sad for those that see God as One of limitation instead of inclusion. What a frightening place they must be in? Thanks for tirelessly teaching and preaching the good news & pointing to Jesus instead of self; heart instead of dogma.
So as the upheavals of our times and the church continue … my query is this:
How do we pray for, assist, minister to, guide the large group of “churched people“ who are lost in their dogma so much so that they are afraid and angry.
Folks who have been hurt by the church or outgrown their current church situation regularly come to your blog to comment. What of the lost (not condemned but confused) within the church?
I plant small seeds where I can and help folks in my church with a word or small insight (baby steps). Still, I feel sympathy for them. I see the church under great strain and change and I ‘m excited (because I think it is Kingdom work) but many are petrified.
Should we anticipate their diaspora? Or has someone already?
Here's the R:
First, thanks for your empathetic reflections ... your warm heart radiates in every word.
And your question - about anticipating a diaspora - is an important one. I'd like to throw it out to readers on my Facebook page ...