I was meeting with a group of pastors the other day and we were sharing things that were going on in our own congregations. Some folks were talking about summer picnics that were coming up, others were talking about big plans for rally day, and even more were talking about some hard conversations that were being had. It was a time to commiserate. We shared our highs and lows and offered mutual support.
When it came time for me to share, I said, “Well, we have been talking about abortion.” Immediately someone said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” “Don’t be sorry,” I said. It was a great conversation. They automatically assumed that it was a great conversation because everyone involved must have been of the same political persuasion. And I said, “Well I don’t think so. We had a whole host of opinions present around the table and I didn’t ask to see their voter registration as they walked in.”
I went on to explain that the reason why I felt the conversation was so good was that we centered our conversation around our relationships with each other. We value our friendships and our community above any sort of stance. We don’t have to agree with each other to respect each other. This led to us sharing personal stories and long held core memories that we have held onto for so long. We know so much more about each other, and I think we understand each other more than we could have before this conversation.
This turned out to be an exercise in building resilient community. In every community, conflict will arise. Most of us cringe when we hear that word. But conflict does not have to be negative. It can be the point of contact that calls us into deeper community and a fuller expression of who we are.
Friends, can you imagine what we can accomplish together? We can take on big conversations like this one and come out on the other end feeling closer to each other, then we stand a fighting chance when seemingly small potatoes come around.
Promise me something: know that this is a place where we can have hard conversations. If something happening here doesn’t sit right with you pray about it first and then come and talk to me or another leader of this congregation. I promise that I will respect and love you even if we find that we don’t agree on something. Most of the time we will find out that we have a problem of communication that can be easily remedied.
Thank you for being a part of this body of Christ here at Holy Spirit. I am impressed by your gifts for ministry and the ways that you share yourselves with each other in community. Keep up the good work!