Photo courtesy of Dan R. Dick
Okay, here’s an idea. We keep paying lip service to our commitment to young leadership and the need to attract and receive more young people into the church. So, for the remainder of General Conference I propose we take two votes on major issues: first, we take the vote of all delegates 40 years of age and under; second, we take the vote of the remainder of the delegates. Of course, we would use the combined total for our decisions, but we would have a comparison to see where the heart, soul and mind of our young adults are in relation to the older church (that significantly outnumbers them).
This would be an outward and visible sign that we are serious about listening to our younger leaders. It would also be a clear indicator of our willingness to change versus our desire to maintain the status quo. Are we brave enough to try such a radical departure from “the way we’ve always done it before?” It would certainly be a leap of faith. Do we trust each other enough to see what kind of church our younger leaders would create? I’m not so sure…
We are working awfully hard to make the church “safe” for those already inside it. It appears that for the next four years, no risks will be taken, no challenge to comfort or security will be issued (except in the case of guaranteed appointments), and no one who isn’t like us will be welcome. We are voting down most of the significant changes and we are reconfirming who we do not want in the church, what we can do to keep them away, and what we will do to them if they dare to infiltrate our ranks. We have dealt with our faith in the most abstract terms — love is a nice, fuzzy feeling, but outward and visible signs of such must pass by a two-thirds majority, and so are defeated.
I was walking past a group of younger adults who were lamenting the decisions being made about who is acceptable and who isn’t in our church. This was the first echo of truly ‘Holy Conversation’ I have heard this week. They were discussing a very pointed question: “who would we be willing to die for?” One young man was saying that it didn’t matter whether we want gay people in the church or not, but what really mattered was whether we would put our life on the line to save a gay person. If we would die for a gay person, why wouldn’t we let a gay person teach or preach or institute communion? Set aside your personal opinion for a moment. Look past the content of the question to the underlying premise: a gay person is a person. If he is a sinner, he is a sinner just like all the rest. If she is a Christian or not is irrelevant — God sent Jesus for precisely such as these (and us). To be like Jesus means to live the WWJD question. One young man reflected, “if people we are called to die for aren’t welcome in the church then neither am I.”