One of the things we learn in seminary is that we should listen to the people "in the pews" or in the case of MBCC "on the couches and at the cafe tables." But how often do we really? Church newsletter article, an occasional "Minute for Mission" or guest sermon? When we express a hope that we discover God "Together" do we really encourage that journey beyond token, safe, controllable interactions? Do we pastor-types only encourage participation when we think we know the outcome? Do we hold "answers of faith" like some big list of secrets and hope people figure it our sooner or later, if we let them? Do we buy into the tired notion that we should be and are experts about all things? These are all questions that each of us as pastors need to wrestle with if we are to effectively pastor a new generation of church folks. I say this because I believe our default posture of pastoring is NOT to encourage truly open dialog, but to retreat into controllable, safe, unimaginative, predictable modes of pastoring. In the end we believe that opening the doors to a kind of Open Source Theologizing is too much work, too unpredictable and God only knows what may happen if we "let the inmates run the asylum" . . . exactly, I say, exactly.
And isn’t that freakin’ exciting: a kind of Open Source theological discourse where folks put their stuff out there, comment, disagree, transform, try again and keep talking all for the betterment of the community of God. Maybe a little naive, but hey, if the church can’t be hopeful about these kinds of interactions, who can?
An example . . . one of the things we have discovered at MBCC is the power of our group blog and it’s outlet for folks to share their experiences and insights as part of a communal journey of understanding God.
Just this week in fact over at www.blogs.missionbaycc.org:
- Jeff posted a Review of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and gave some great insights on Biblical criticism, the Bible and church;
- R.C. posted Nappy-Headed Hos about cultural response to misogynistic language;
- Christina posted Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood, a look at the "other" in our midsts as her son grows up in the City.
Pretty gosh darn fantabulous stuff.
Now before anyone accusing me of just trying to get our of working and giving myself more time to drink coffee and blog, I am not talking about abdication of one’s pastoral responsibility to help provide pastoral care and theological guidance. We do still have a role in the theological development of a community of faith. But . . . if we say we want to grow together, if we talk about the Priesthood of all believers, if we have confronted the reality that pastors are not experts about all things . . . well then, it makes sense and carries great integrity to our ministry if we live these things out. Pastoring an Open Source community requires the confidence to give up control over the outcome, invite people to the conversation, encourage faithful dialog and support the sharing of individual faith in order to give meaning to the whole.
And I believe that it is in the act of inviting, encouraging, supporting and engaging in the discourse right along side everyone else, we too discover what God has in store for us as pastoral leadership!