Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Question for Which We Don't Have an Answer

Change comes when a people face up to a question for which they don't have an answer. And "to face up" means that a people stop settling for non-answers for that question, and admit that they don't know. Then they can start to think, experiment and find their way.

To me the unanswered question is this: How do religious liberal leaders lead in this country at this time, given the scale of the task and the historical moment?

How can we change more lives? How can we change enough lives to fulfill the mandate "to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn...to build up ancient ruins... [and] raise up the devastations of old."

My observation is that clergy anxiety about their income support system has narrowed the possible answers to the question. In effect, the question changes into "how do religious liberal leaders lead in this country by creating local parishes of sufficient size and stability to support professional ministry?" Or, "how can we lead by doing more of the same, better?"

Narrowing the question down to the problem of building up local congregation doesn't answer the larger unanswered question. If we don't know how to lead, then we won't be successful in leading in the particular organizing project of building up local congregations.

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