Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Voices of a Liberal Faith: "Sigh" and Mixed Feelings

Just a quick review of the UUA's new DVD and campaign to attract visitors:
Of course no surprise I would love to see the time, talent, resources, etc. put into incarnational mission church planting, or a diverse 1000 new churches in a 1000 new ways approach like the Disciples of Christ are doing, that could be used from this DVD approach and from the Time Magazine and other outreach ads that reflect the old "attrractional" mode of church, but that's not going to happen, so heck I am glad to see that this is being done.

Now I like the visuals, get a good vibe from it, hits the niche markets they are aiming for, has a little bit of substance along with the style, and you come away with a good warm fuzzy glow buzz of spirituality and community and other wonderful words. Nothing scary in it. It seems to evoke everything you would think of from "liberalism." Acceptance. Activism. Idealism.

What I am not drawn to: see paragraph above :).

There were a few places where the word "challenge" was dropped and I was wanting to get a little more of that. I wonder what the challenges of our liberal faith really are: to be accepting of the diversity? well yeah, it can be a strain at times but hey not much I mean that's who we are, right? Challenge to be activists and make the world a better place? Well, yeah, but same thing. Where is the real challenge of our faith? The challenge that says we will be part of the shaking of your foundations. There was so much "it's so good for you, for me, come in the water is fine." Here you won't have to change. Here you won't encounter a transforming Transcendent that stands not only within you but without from you, judging your life, your decisions. I am always a sucker for history, but there was a part of me that said, when I saw his name and face, if John Adams were here and watching that video....:)

It does what it sets out to do. That's something. I do hope people will use it in small groups; to dig into it, not only in how it might resonate with their path, but what it leaves out in what it means to be faithful, to be a part of even "Church, but..." :). What does it say about us? What does it reveal about us?

Of course, getting visitors is one thing and turning visitors into disciples and leaders who make other leaders is another thing. One DVD can't do it all. But there might be a corollary between the expectations that people come in with, that here I won't be challenged and changed, that makes it difficult to go from the one to the other. God I yearn for the DVD of the dark nights of the souls of the UUs and how from the wreckage of their lives and in the wreckage of their faith communities and wider communities they experienced the Holy and their lives have never been the same since. Or how the faith has really challenged them to change their lives in fundamental ways. That I think might really attract visitors and also some hope that might keep them.

Or we can start new organic churches of four and five people all over the world, especially in the zip codes we aren't a part of naturally, and watch the Holy Spirit at work.

So, in conclusion, really mixed feelings. Which is better than you thought, right? I mean if an out of the looper like me can see where it might be useful (mostly if it will be used in small groups, in moving people to dig deeper and go beneath the surfaces presented, which is all you can do anyway in ten minutes, but then surfaces are telling) than surely it will end up helping the movement somehow.

Let's just keep looking at the numbers each year in relationship to the population of the country. And it wouldn't hurt to 1. restart a fellowship movement redux; 2. to do the first, have at least one church in each state commit to doing an organic church mission plant per year; 3. have a system wide discussion so people will know what the heck that might mean and be, and what the real options for growth and planting are (it is both easier than people think, and more challenging than they can imagine and possibly wish to go there). End.