Home > Ranting, The Slow Grow > More than just advertising

More than just advertising

As a church considers how it will introduce themselves to the community there is a big choice to make: how do we define ourselves?  There are really two ways to do that.  One way is easy, and one is much more difficult.  The easy way is to define yourself by what you are NOT: We’re not judgemental; we don’t require you sign a covenant about not drinking; at our church we don’t play an organ or have big programs or…whatever.  See how easy it is?  All you have to do is point at something that another church does and then say “we aren’t like that”.  It’s not only easy, it can be pretty funny…check out this funny video.

The other option is to define your church by what you are…or maybe by what you do.  It’s much more difficult.  Plus, it sets you up to feel bad if people don’t show up.  “We want to serve the community; we allow children to participate; it’s important to us that we respect God’s creation and recycle or use reusable mugs for worship; we value family…so we will only have a few meetings at nighttime.”  As I wrote those last few I had to rewrite them because my temptation was to say “We don’t have a bunch of nighttime meetings” or “We don’t add styrofoam to the landfills”.  It’s really difficult.

Of course you set yourself up for sadness when you do this.  What if people don’t show up?  Does that mean the things that are really important to you are meaningless to them?  You’ve put who you are on the line.  Like me.  Please.

So this is how we try to advertise ourselves (a whole other entry on how I feel about advertising).  Of course, it’s more than just advertising…it’s how we should live our lives.  The prevailing attitude in the United States is this: We are us, and they are them.  And it kills community.  We divide ourselves into camps and pit one another against each other.  “Don’t let yourself become like them.”  “If you’re one of us, you’ll do this…if you’re not…”  “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” 

Politicians are great at this.  I would just once like to see someone stand in a political debate and an entire campaign and talk in the positive about who they are.  Not only that…I’d want them to win – even if I disagree with them.

Embody…a place where people gather to honestly seek the face of God.  Give us grace, O God, to be generous and charitable with people who are different from us.  Let us point to you, not point at things that are unlike you.

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