Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who are you and what do you stand for?

I can remember attending a Youth Specialties Core training event in Tulsa a few years ago. Marko came and did the presentation. It was pretty good, but the main presentation or the material involved is actually not what I remember about this event (Sorry Mr. O). I remember being cornered in the parking lot by another youth worker whom I had met earlier in the day. He found out that I was serving within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Most of the time when I mention our denomination's name I'm met with looks of bewilderment. Yes, we are a relatively small movement among the American churches.

To my surprise, this guy knew who we were. Now, he hadn't actually attended any of our churches, or even read anything about us. But a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of some guy he knew a long time ago told him we were a denomination that didn't stand for or believe anything at all. Of course, you can always rely on the word of someone that close and trusted. Now, we are a relatively open-minded denomination. We think our openness to differences of opinion on non-essential matters is a good thing. And we really enjoy the diversity that our lack of credal legalities gives us.

I bring this up because my clergy cluster has been in discussion over a new document that a commission within the Church is in the process of developing. It's the Disciples Identity Statement. Note: This is a work in progress. It has not been approved officially or anything yet. Right now the commission is circulating it amongst the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to see how well people think it defines our identity and what it says about us to others. You can find it here.

I'm interested that you might read it and talk to me a bit. I'd like to hear from both those within the Christian Church (DOC) and from those not amongst our ranks. I want to know: "What does it tell you about us?"

Please also remember, I'm not looking for theological debates or treatises, or rants about whether or not you think a point is right or wrong. Those types of arguments will likely be deleted.


Brian said...

I think the identity statement is right on target. I doubt that everyone who reads it will affirm all of what it proclaims, but I think it raises all the important issues and opens up the possiblity for dialogue on things that matter. I particularly think the one we as the DOC need to work on most is: "Might we continue to celebrate our diversity, including theological diversity, and
to recognize that our differences are enriching only when they are seen as parts of a greater whole?"

As a denomination and as a unity movement, we have been historically guilty of fence-sitting on issues of diversity, letting others fight the battles and then stepping out only once the dust has settled and taking a stand implies little risk.

Just my two cents.

Oh, and glad the transition to the new church is going well. Best of luck!

leah said...

I think the vocabulary is too complex for younger readers. I is hard to comprehend for anyone still in school. I don't understand diversity and justice. They are words with too many meanings. Many people who may have something to do with Christianity may not be able to understand what is being said.

Dan said...

Thanks, Brian and Leah,

These are pretty helpful comments.

Brian, my butt is really getting sore from all the fence-sitting!

Leah, we have a tendency to use too many "insider" words in things like this. Thanks for the helpful critique. I'll see if anyone will listen.