Lingering Thoughts

Last weekend was a great time.  Beth and I got to see Michael for the first time in a long while, and I was able to reconnect with some of my friends from seminary.  Seminary is a grueling experience and I have a bond that will last for a very long time with a certain group of people.  We never get to spend enough time together, but I enjoyed the little bit that we did have.

Besides being grueling, seminary is a place where people learn many ideas and have a chance to explore what they believe.  There are some real wackos there (some may say that I was one of them at times), but there is some very smart people there too (I was never accused of this for some reason.) In the last year I have noticed the disconnect between seminary and practicing parish life.  I also have begun to realize that sometimes I may have been too quick to dismiss an idea, thought, book or even movie because I had a problem with the individuals involved with said project.

This conclusion comes from a conversation that I had with a friend who follows this blog about a study and sermon series we have done and are doing at the church.  He commented that he and other friends had initially dismissed the film for various reasons (IE. bad theology, did not like the star, and did not approve of the group that produced it, etc.)  He then admitted that he is still yet to see the movie, but was at least thinking about watching.  We talked and I admitted that the film was not perfect, and even had some very cheesy parts but the idea behind it was very valuable.  End of conversation and on to next subject.

I understood what he was getting at, and some of the same thoughts had even crossed my mind.  Today, almost a week later, I wonder what other ideas I have shut off before I reflected on them fairly because I never gave them a chance.  We all do this, we judge many things, using many different standards.  Many times we do this in the name of saving time or some other noble reason.  I am glad that I gave that movie a chance.

Due to that film, my wife and I led a six week study on relationships last winter.  From that class I met a person who became the first adult that I baptized.  I am at a large church and I have had the joy of playing a role in many infant baptisms, all of them so amazing and powerful that I have been almost moved to tears. That Sunday morning with my first adult, there was no almost about it, I had tears in my eyes from the enormity of the moment. If I had never given that film a chance, I may not have had that opportunity. 

As I finish this, I wonder what have I missed because I did not give something or someone a fair chance.  What have you missed?  Worse yet, what is the capital C Church missing because we don’t give people, ideas, or concepts a fair chance; dismissing them without even bothering to look for any redeeming qualities?




One thought on “Lingering Thoughts

  1. This is my first visit to your blog, and it comes after reading your evotional and noting that you are planning, among other things, your small groups projects for the future. Not incidentally, in this post you mentioned that it is sometimes easy to dismiss even good ideas for a variety of reasons.

    It occurs to me that churches generally are dismissive of teaching some fairly simple technical interpersonal skills that we really do need to use in order to be healthy and happy and to love as Jesus teaches us we must.

    Active listening, for example, is a way to really hear what people are trying to say. Listening is, after all, the garden variety act of love that no healthy relationship can do without.

    Another skill would be critical thinking; to recognize that we can be wrong, and that there may be other more appropriate ways and styles for approaching and solving problems than the ways we may prefer.

    Assertiveness comes to mind. Anecdotally, how many people do you know who know the difference between assertive and aggressive? What could possibly be wrong with teaching a skill that requires us to be honest, expressive, mutually respectful and direct?

    Some might answer that this kind of curriculum has no place in church because these skills may not be specifically enumerated in the bible. My thought is that they are most certainly implied, because we see Jesus demonstrating these skills; and my belief is that relationships are successful and healthy only in so far as these practices are in use (consciously or not).

    Our church would well serve its ministry and the Lord by raising awareness about these practical interpersonal skills (and some others) along with biblical references. There are plenty of good study materials and scripture available on them, and I would surely make the time to work in such an important ministry.

    Thank you, Ron, for your thoughtful and loving ministry!

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