Q & R: Staying or Leaving? How do I Stay?

Here’s the Q:
I wanted to let you know that The Great Spiritual Migration finally reached me this past month, and was one of the most healing, helpful, encouraging books I’ve ever read, reaching me in exactly the moment I needed it.
I’ve been feeling utterly alone and unsupported as I work through thoughts on the church’s treatment of LGBTQ people, the church’s historical treatment of indigenous peoples, and mourning and wondering about the pathways ahead. I am a lay leader in a church that is simply not very engaged in these topics, while meanwhile, my inner world is being broken. This has given me a sense, a clue, about some directions to consider.
Two questions:
– How have you personally found the courage and clarity to be a confident Galileo for a church that remains solidly geocentric?
– How can one discern whether it’s healthier to move on to new communities that are pursuing a more “just and generous” vision, or whether to stay and help be an agent for change from the inside of an existing “geocentric” church?”
I appreciate your work and humility in pursuing this important calling in your own life. Thanks for heeding the call under the palo verde tree.
Here’s the R:
This stay or leave question isn’t an easy one, especially when you’re a leader. Here’s what I’d recommend.
1. Meet with your pastor and other lay leaders, either individually or in groups. Share with them what you’ve shared with me. Open your heart, not to complain, but to ask their guidance. “Do you think I should stay and work for change here? Or do you think I should move on?” If I were your pastor, I would wish that you’d come to me with this question rather than answering it without consulting me. You need to make it clear you’re asking for guidance — not permission. If you’re not wanted being who you are — if they only way you’re wanted is by hiding your concerns — that might be a reason to leave. (A sagely elder once told me, when I was in my 30’s, “Try not to leave. But if you’re not wanted, remember that love is not rude, and it’s rude to stay where you’re not wanted.”)
2. Ask yourself if you have other options where you could make a bigger difference with your investment of time, intelligence, money, and energy. You may not have other better options – but if you do, you have the options of staying, going elsewhere, or doing a bit of both.
3. If you stay, here’s what will help you be a “Galileo” — find at least one kindred spirit inside or outside the congregation who will agree to be your soul-friend and support system. And be sure to keep your spiritual roots deep in the Spirit … drawing character and wisdom for the work of bringing change.
4. One last thought: bringing change in churches is super needed – and super difficult. So I’d recommend, if possible, that you get a professional consultant involved. I highly recommend the good people at Convergence – they’re amazing.
I hope that helps! I’m so glad the book was helpful. May God give you wisdom and strength for the journey ahead. Your congregation is blessed to have a leader like you.