Q & R: Turning the ship without capsizing it
Here's the Q:
I cannot even begin to tell you how much your writings have impacted my life. I started, then my parents (who are wounded, pastoral veterans), and now my girlfriend has read through your writings. Thank you. I am [20-something] and I recently quit my job as a worship leader at an evangelical "MEGA-Church." I decided that I want to live my life to fill in the gaps where the Church has failed to fully live the out Gospel and love others. However, I am not giving up on the Church, I just need to find the way to go about it (also, I live in in [the deep south], the heart of conservatism). Thus, my question is, how do we go about church reform and a shift in our thinking/living in our society without causing more division? How do we bring turn a huge ship without causing it to capsize? How do we maintain peace in our relationships?
I don't know if this will reach you, but please know my life is forever changed by your writings and the things God has taught you!
Here's the R:
Thanks for these encouraging words. The work that some people of my generation have been at for a long time now will surely be picked up by people of your generation, and I'm honored to be of help in any way I can.
It's a huge question, but I think you already know the heart of the answer. Your desire to "fill in the gaps" at the margins is the key, I believe. We need people like you to create missional faith communities that experiment and model "a new kind of Christianity." We need to do this in an ecumenical spirit - not "they've got it wrong, we've got it right," but "we're all in this together." When "institutional" people at the center learn from "movement" people at the margins, that's when widespread change can happen.
Of course, doing creative work at the margins guarantees you will be criticized. But that's part of the process. You just keep smiling, pressing on, doing what's in your heart to do, and speaking a blessing on the critics. (It's occasionally wise to respond to their criticism, but usually wiser to think about it, learn from it, pray through it, and avoid defending yourself.) I hope that helps, and I hope we'll get to meet some day. Please keep me informed about what you're up to!