A follow-up to the previous post. We tend to assume if we just got things right, whether “things” be the liturgy, or coffee hour, or theology, or even the building, then things would be OK and people would want to join us. But there are deeper issues.
Brian McLaren writes (h/t Steve Knight)
“Christian mission begins with friendship — not utilitarian friendship, the religious version of network marketing — but genuine friendship, friendship that translates love for neighbors in general into knowing, appreciating, liking and enjoying … This knowing-in-particular then motivates us to protect our neighbor when he or she is under threat, as a little Rwandan girl understood: just before she was brutally murdered during the genocide, she said to her slayer, ‘If you knew me, you would not kill me.’”
Also this: “They don’t believe because your God isn’t desirable.” This is a reflection on debates between Christians and atheists, with the underlying assumption that one can prove the existence of God, or the superiority of the Christian faith, by rational argument.
But I think the same dynamic is in play in other areas, in the common deployment of terms like “inclusivity.” Not that I’m against inclusion, mind you, but sometimes I think we are so focused on the outward symbols of inclusion that we forget the importance of God’s love and our love of our neighbor.