Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a gathering sponsored by the Fund for Theological Education. Twelve programs from around the country that work with emerging young leaders were brought together. There were about 30 of us, 2/3 of who were young emerging leaders. It was a privilege to sit and converse with present and future leaders of the church. During the last session the young adults were asked to share openly and honestly about their vision for the future of the church – to describe this session as a holy time is almost an understatement.
One testimony in particular has stuck with me. One woman shared her frustration with the conservative and liberal sides of the church. For her the conservative church was the place where her heart was welcome but her mind, her questioning, and her intellect were unwelcome. In the liberal church her head was welcome but emotion and expressive worship and praise were seen as inappropriate.
As she shared you could feel the agreement in the room. These young adults wanted to serve and worship in churches that created room for both their heads and their hearts.
Why is it that the conservative church is so afraid science and evolution? The time, effort, and finances devoted to debating evolution has crossed the line from silly and peculiar to wasteful and wrong. Then there are the various confessions of faith which leave no room for questions or reexamination. This side of the church seems to be driven by a fear of anything that is different or unexpected.
The liberal church is no better, especially the white liberal church. Their understanding of the faith and God borders on racism, classism, and paternalism. Anyone who doesn’t accept their “mature,” “rational,” and “thoughtful” understanding of the world is simply wrong. Their commitment to rationalism reduces humans to one-dimensional uninteresting people. Our emotion and our desire to praise God with our whole being makes life fun, interesting, and multi-dimensional.
Both sides of the church seem to have an overwhelming need to define, contain and make God into their own image.
I left the meeting looking forward to where these emerging leaders are going to take us. I like the idea of being part of a faith community that respects my head and honors my heart.