by Peggy Hahn
Prayers of horrified people of faith from around the world are rising up on behalf of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, the worst in the recent history of our country. LEAD is hearing this as a call to action to change the conversation. We are talking about THE CONVERSATION that demands we take loving our neighbor as ourselves seriously, especially the neighbor who is different from ourselves, at the risk of offending someone else. As hard as it might be for some to hear us say this out loud, we feel churches are clearly overdue in dealing with the eighth commandment. We are calling for deeply faithful conversations that move us beyond the “isms” that have us trapped in ways of being that are, can we just say, less than Jesus-like.
So here it is, straight up:
The Gospel cannot be held hostage by people who have been allowed to believe that the church is theirs.
Dialog about gun control has nothing on church-control when it comes to conversations that create tension between varying points of view. But the church is not ours, nor has it ever been ours. At the risk of sending the tithers out the door, we feel the time has come for churches to move more fully into their prophetic voice. That means articulating and practicing loving others more like God loves us in the way we gather, worship, care, and serve as the church.
Crucial Conversations, a book by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny, offers a way forward. In this book, there are tremendous gifts for congregational life. The authors give readers very practical skills to help people engage thoughtfully and even strategically, when stakes are high. Tools outlined in this book draw on social science research that takes into consideration what happens in each of us when we engage in those conversations that matter most.
LEAD is offering a free webinar / book study on Crucial Conversations on Tuesday, September 13, 1 PM CST. Space is limited to the first 25 people for this digital book study so sign up now. We believe that the prayers we offer for the victims of Orlando have a personal implication. It is the time for leaders to take the action they have known is coming but have been unsure how to manage. Let’s do this together as a learning community as we learn to listen and speak out of our faith in ways that will change the game in our congregations and neighborhoods.