Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open House

What does it mean for a "liberal" church such as the Episcopal Church to "cross borders?"

I'm struck by the fact that we, acknowledgedly, aren't very good of getting outside of our walls. Some things such as exclusivity in The Church haven't changed much since I was young. Lots and lots of gay/straight teens and young adults don't know that we have something to offer them that's meaningful. Church leaders focus on other priorities or they remain silent for any number of reasons while hoping that Christianity will remain relevant to people in their teens and 20s. Younger people aren't going to show up on their own, especially if they aren't already members of the community. They especially will stay away if they believe The Church is full of nothing but hypocritical and mean-spirited people.

White Episcopalians gay and straight alike need to get out from behind their Sunday worship services and get into the marketplace, literally and figuratively. How are we manifest on the "commons" of life for younger and more mature Hispanics, Haitians, African Americans, and other people of color as well as LGBT people? When do our parish walls become the borders that we're stuck behind?

Many Episcopalians think that we should be more inclusive but somehow it takes too much energy to get it done. Why is that true? Here's a thought.. let's have an "Open House" once a month. Let's especially invite people who aren't precisely like us. Let's take some tips from the successful Realtors in our midst and advertise (Facebook, Twitter), "stage our home" and be prepared to be cordial and answer questions. One thing that many Episcopal parishes are good at is serving refreshments and offering enjoyable music. What would it look like to have an event on a week night @ 10 pm that was just for young adults? How would we open our doors to that community? Maybe it wouldn't take place in our parish hall at all.... maybe it would be in a downtown coffee shop or pub.

There's lots and lots of talk about diminishing Christian congregations in America. What steps are we going to take? The Way exists - let's walk it with Jesus into our communities to welcome folks not like us.

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