January 20, 2015
In a recent survey by the Pew Forum, when Millennials (roughly those 18-33 years of age) were asked whether most people can be trusted, only 19% of Millennials affirmed the general trustworthiness of humanity, compared with 31% of Gen Xers and 40% of Baby Boomers. This may have something to do with the fact this group experienced both the collapse of the World Trade Center and collapse of the American Economy before they turned 30. Trust is a big issue!
“Community is a continual act of forgiveness,” says French author and activist Jean Vanier. Community inevitably includes disappointment, hurt and even betrayal. Faith communities love to expound upon the blessings that come with fellowship. We’re often less keen about admitting its broken side. We audaciously proclaim that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world—which sets the bar pretty high doesn’t it! How could this not lead to disappointment by others and ourselves when we fail to live up to that calling?
A church in Charlotte, NC led by Rev. Jonathan Martin has the following manifesto:
We are a community of liars, dreamers, and misfits. We are a house of mercy. We will advocate for broken and marginalized people everywhere, inside and outside the Church. Plymouth Church likes to think of itself as “exceptional.” Are we? Or has our endowment simply insulated us?
We are a people under renovation. We are in an ongoing process of growth, change and development. We will own up to where we are, but we won’t stay here.
We are a people from the future. We act in fearless conviction that the rules have changed and that we are partnering with God to make that change visible. We will not be reactionary to anything or anyone, because the apocalyptic event of resurrection has already transformed the world.
We ARE your grandmother’s church. And your great-grandmother’s church. And your great-great-grandmother’s church. We embrace continuity with the Church’s past. We seek intergenerational and cultural diversity. We will harness the classic spiritual practices and truths that transcend time and place. We are a local representation of a timeless community.
We will practice the liturgy and the primal shout. We will incite worship that engages both intellect and emotion, believing that the head and heart are to be integrated and not divorced.
We will build altars in the world. We will collect and tell stories. We will celebrate and honor the people, places and things that God chooses to use.
We will reach out without dumbing down. We will challenge you to think hard about God, Church and culture. We will not treat you like a consumer, but as a co-conspirator in the re-imagining of the world.
We will embrace flesh and blood. We believe life in the Spirit has to be lived in a body. We celebrate the Eucharist as the full expression of God’s use of flesh to accomplish His purposes. Our own bodies are now broken with His for the sake of the world.
We are not looking to escape the world, but to re-make it. We believe the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. We anticipate His Kingdom coming and His will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. We will not be done re-making the world until the final restoration of creation.
I believe this manifesto can inform our conversations as we ‘right size’ and prioritize in coming weeks and months. I would love to hear your take on it. Our future will be determined by whether the disappointments, hurts and even betrayals will open us to a greater capacity to love and learn. Indeed that will determine whether Plymouth is the kind of trustworthy space we and others crave. —Brigitta Remole