My family and I have entered into a new season and like most transitions there is discomfort opportunity for growth. After my serving as an elder in our church for two years we’ve taken a step back due to several intersecting experiences: moving to a new city, new job, new focus in my studies, and new relationships to name a few. I’ll come back to some of these relationships in a bit.
I’ve always believed in the importance of knowing the history of the faith tradition to which we belong. By having a grasp on the story of our faith communities we are better able to appreciate their beauty, and to question their presuppositions. When we’re able to step out of our particular ecclesiastical stream and survey the full landscape we are much more likely to have a gracious demeanor towards those who swim in other streams. This has a way of challenging our own judgmental moods and prejudices while simultaneously stirring our hearts towards humble gratitude for the people in which God has providentially placed us.
Since this season has presented itself I’ve implemented something I’ve wanted to do for some time and that is to interact with and visit various churches outside of my own ecclesiastical stream. My aim is to visit and network with churches of different stripes in order to experience what the Spirit is doing here as well as explore some questions I have on the ecumenical movement… is unity in the Body simply a pipe dream or can it take on a visible manifestation to the world and to this city?
One of the great people I’ve had the privilege of meeting this past year is author, professor and minister John H. Armstrong. His recent book “Your Church is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission is Vital to the Future of the Church” has been a great catalyst for me to test what he calls “ecumenical mission.” The vision towards unity in the Body will require pew fillers from all traditions to get out, engage in conversation and pursue friendship. (Thanks for the strong nudge John!)
Lesslie Newbigin said that “The business of the church is to tell and embody a story.” How are we doing at telling and embodying this story? Is there any overcoming our constant fragmenting over various titles and subplots? I hope to meet more characters in this story and to rediscover my own place in the messy and diverse family we call the Body.
Forrest Lee Horn