Monday, January 09, 2006

Unconditional Welcome

Boy In the Bands writes a thoughtful entry about the "Forever Congregation,"
to which I have contributed a lengthy comment (& now that I see it online, far too lengthy! Sorry, Scott!):

http://www.universalistchurch.net/boyinthebands/archives/forever-congregation/

The church's job is to incarnate God's unconditional love, certainly. But in churches we too often mistake pastoral welcome with institutional permeability (a phrase I seem to have coined tonight). To clarify what I said on Scott's post:
Fate will provide enough challenging and potentially uneducable people to any congregation. The congregation should therefore not expend its energies trying to accomodate the exhausting demands of those who can fully well understand and grasp the implications of their dysfunctional behaviors , but who refuse to.

(This goes for clergy, too!)

Pastoral welcome should be extended to all comers; it is an authentic way the church expresses fellowship and hospitality. Institutional permeability, however, is not hospitality; it is an indiscriminate offer of authority, power and (oftentimes) leadership to anyone who happens to walk through the door, without inviting them into a process of discernment, integration or instruction in how to responsibly participate in the community.

In the contemporary liberal church's often sloppy, sentimental way of welcoming the seeker, it too often mistakes institutional permeability with authentic hospitality, claiming that the first is more loving and inclusive than the second. In fact, welcoming seekers indiscriminately is not nearly as loving as authentic pastoral welcome, which requires deep attention to the guest, a conscious effort to help them find a ministry within the church, and an invitation for them to become a living steward and incarnation of the church's highest ideals.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

19:35  
Blogger Wally Nut said...

Very well said Peace Bang. I have come to understand that some people develop a practice of "abusing and using up" gifts of support. If I can give such people the gift of expectation, inviting them to step into responsiblity and calling them on it when they do not, then I am opening the door to some possiblity of change for them. To keep allowing them to use and abuse what I offer, is not really helping them or myself. And if this opens up more space and energy for the challenging members open to change, then bravo, because all of us are potentially in that category, if not today then tomorrow.

13:40  
Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

That most certainly was censorship Peacebang. My post was entirely on topic and pointed out that the whole congregation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal as well as various UU clergy, including top level UUA and CUC leaders and the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee. . . are clearly and unequivocally guilty of engaging in disturbingly dysfunctional behaviors towards yours truly. They are still at it too. . .

I am reasonably sure that I have saved that post to disk however and I *know* that God has it stashed away somewhere in her infinite memory banks for future reference if necessary.

Care to "memory hole" this glaring example of highly dysfunctional U*U pastoral welcome. . . Talk about killing two offensive U*U bird*brains with one well aimed stone between remarkably blind eyes of conscience. . .

21:17  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

I'll memory hole whatever I feel like memory holing, Robin, because your comments are boring and boorish. You use my blog almost exclusively as a vehicle for the promotion of your grievances, and it's pathetic, not prophetic. You're not persuasive, you're Johnny One-Note.

We've all had atrocious experiences. I have and most of my readers have. But we don't read everything that anyone says as an invitation to rehearse our old grievances, and to constantly, constantly, constantly (agh! already!)retell (or link to)the story of our oppression. Why? Because life is full of *many* experiences and ostensibly, we have a deep well to draw from. The fact that you bang this drum about Montreal to the exclusion of anything else that has ever happened in your life makes you seem obsessive and pathologically narcissistic (which you claim not to be, so I'll take your word for it). You're not winning any converts. It's very much a lost cause, and I am certain that God doesn't care one whit if I delete your comments.

21:43  
Blogger Robin Edgar said...

Johnny One-note? NOT. . .

19:06  

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