The reason I haven't written in a while is that I was in Washington D.C. for three days last week, and then had to spend the rest of the week catching up on the stuff that I missed while I was gone. I probably should have done more prep before I went. Oh well.
The reason I was in Washington D.C. was to meet with a group of 60 young United Methodist clergy people from around the nation. We met at the General Board of Church and Society in the Methodist Building, on capitol hill. You can stand at the front door of the Methodist building and look across one street at the Supreme Court, across another street at the Capitol, and across another street at the Senate office buildings. Wow!
The Church and Society board speaks for the denomination in matters legislative. They are charged with the care and maintainance of the denomination's Social Principles. And they had called all of us young clergy from around the nation to meet together and talk about social justice.
All of that is background in order to say this:
I am incredibly hopeful about the future of the church!
Here's why: Clergy younger than 40 know how to disagree with each other without despising each other. We do not have a "win / lose" frame of mind. Too many older folks think about dialogue in terms of figuring out who is "right" or "wrong." That is not dialogue, that is a fight. The 60 young adults present in Washington last week know how to say, "I understand where you are coming from, and I completely disagree with your perspective. Now, let's go get a cup of coffee and talk about it."
Let me tell you about one of the young pastors in Washington: his name is Shalom. (What a great name for a pastor!) Shalom and I are on opposite sides of the table a lot. A LOT! I disagree with him about almost every hot-button issue there is. But Shalom and I were able to share a subway to the airport at the end of our time in Washington, sit down at a restaurant and have a snack while we waited for our respective planes, and you know what - we didn't kill each other! We even managed to share some laughs together! We sat at the same table and actually talked about stuff and managed to live together EVEN THOUGH WE DISAGREE.
Speaking in a broad generality, people younger than 40 are okay with that. People in their 50s and older are not. And that is why I am so incredibly hopeful about the future of the church. Because the reality is, faithful, honest, and truly good people are going to disagree about things, and it doesn't make anyone less faithful, honest, or good. We are all just trying to live our lives as best we know how. Splitting the church apart just because we disagree about things is the least faithful thing we could possibly do.
Life is a rainbow, enjoy the colors!
Grace and Peace,