Making Our Way Forward

During his ministry, Jesus often came up with unexpected solutions to the problems he faced. When a crowd got hungry and disciples told Him to let them go and find their own food (totally makes sense), Jesus answered: “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) When people asked Jesus whether or not they should pay tax to the Roman Empire, they expected a simple yes or no answer, but instead they heard: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) I see in Jesus a perfect example of someone who 1) saw how complicated the world around him was and 2) offered a solution that people had not even thought about before. And I am so encouraged by these examples from the gospels today. Let me tell you why.

Our church is dealing with a very complicated issue after the General Conference in St. Louis. And we are figuring out OUR own way forward. Why is it so complicated for us, you may ask? Because WE are a DIVERSE church. We fall on each end of the spectrum and everywhere in between on the questions of human sexuality, and yet we worship, serve, pray, learn, give, and play together. So how do WE move forward as a DIVERSE church with people who probably will never agree on the questions concerning human sexuality?

This is the question I have been struggling with these days. And I saw a glimpse of a possible answer last night at the meeting of our Grace Group. 6 people in the room represented well the diversity of opinions in our church. We were all over the place: traditionalist, liberal, curious, questioning, passionate, concerned, etc. And after 2 hours of our conversation, I was filled with hope that OUR DIVERSE church will figure it out.

So here is what happened at our group meeting last night.

  • We all sat down and talked, and will probably circle back to these questions again a few more times.
  • We ALL felt safe to share exactly where we stand, what we believe, what we have learned, and what we still do not quite understand.

It’s a complicated issue, y’all.

  • We did not label each other as a bigot, or hater, or someone who ignores the Scripture, etc. And it’s because we know each other better than that. That’s why we could listen to each other. And we could learn from each other and about each other. We all have stories.
  • We had a good time, we laughed, we snacked, we were comfortable with each other.
  • We also dreamed about what the future of our church might look like.
  • We agreed that our love for the people and ministries of our church could be the anchor that holds all of us TOGETHER as we work through our disagreements.

It will take plenty more conversations like this among the members of our church for us to shape OUR way forward as a DIVERSE church. Some of these conversations will not be comfortable or pleasant, I know. But I still encourage you to do so. And I would like to join you! Seriously 😊 So let’s grab lunch or have a cup of coffee together.

Rev. Zhenya Gurina-Rodriguez
Associate Pastor of Grace Groups & Discipleship

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