Ever since I wrote my own justifications for taking an active role in the life of my denomination: Why I Should Leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and
Top 10 Reasons Bruce Will Stay Presbyterian,
I have wondered why others do the same. Over the past few years, I have met countless folks who not only stick with their particular denominational families, but are fully engaged in the transformation of their particular institutional structures and culture.
Yes, there are serious problems with denominations: they can be too rigid, too hierarchical, too well, "denominational" in all the of negative and unhealthy ways that one can think of. And yet people of deep faith emerge from these communities profoundly committed to Christ's call to live the complex life of the prophet, pastor, priest and poet. Everywhere I turn these days, I meet another person who is dissatisfied with what seems to be a throw the baby out with the bathwater mentality that implies that, while there may be plenty of positive ways to be the church and body of Jesus Christ, a denominational manifestation is not one of them. And in fact, denominations have been, are now and will always be harmful to the body.
While I fully admit that I am just a tad bit involve in the life of my denomination, it often seems that denominational authority causes more angst for it's detractors and critics than it does for those who are actually living their faith out through the life of said denomination. I don't give my denomination that much power to determine my worth or purpose in the ways and to the extent that so many think it does.
Sorry, it just does not and I suspect others feel the same way.
And to prove my point, I have asked some folks from a variety of denominational traditions to help us think through this idea and help to put feet on what denominational life has been is now and will become.
Here are some of the questions that I have posed to folks:
- What are some valid critiques of your denomination?
- What frustrates you most about assumptions that are made about your denominational?
- Why do you stay and participate in denominational life?
- What are the greatest gifts that your denomination brings to the larger church community?
- What do you see as your role in the future life of your denomination?
- What word of hope or challenge to you have for those who wholeheartedly dismiss the denominational experience, those who are struggling with remaining part of their denomination and/or to those who would resist transformation and renewal of denominational life?
So about once or twice a week for the next couple of months, I will post at least once a week. While I do have some names already lined up, if you or someone you know would address this well, feel free to drop me a note with contact info and a little background. No promises, but who knows.
Feel an also free to drop me a note on Twitter or post with the hashtag, #wwcdl with your thoughts and/or questions. You can also use your particular denominational flavor and I'll link here as they become real, #whyPCUSA, #whyUMC, #whyELCA, whyUCC, etc.