(In Part 2 of this 3-part blog series, I wrote that the wholeness we can experience in unity is worth the effort…so now what?)
I believe we at FCC are called to be a local expression of the Disciples’ slogan, “A movement of wholeness in a fragmented world.”
That means we must learn to work through differences among us before we can hope to build bridges of peace in our community. We must avoid the twin traps of false unity; where either everyone believes virtually the same thing, or where we practice a polite avoidance of difficult topics altogether.
I believe the gospel calls us to something deeper and richer. Genuine fellowship, genuine love, comes from embracing each other in spite of our differences. It comes from being vulnerable about our opinions, convictions, and even our faults, and offering each other grace in return. Towards this end, there are three things I am inviting you to participate in over the next few months.
Learning to go deeper
First, throughout August and September, we will embark on a new Sunday teaching series called “Reconcile.” Over the course of 8 weeks we will visit 8 “hot-button” topics that divide Christians. We will examine them from a posture rooted in the scriptural tradition. It is my hope that we will learn humility, charity, and love as we are exposed to the rich diversity of Christian perspectives on issues like politics, religion, race, sexuality, and more.
I’ll be teaching this series with the help of three friends and fellow ministers: Rick Love, Scott DeLeeuw, and Marcos Mujica. You will be inspired and blessed by each of them. I hope you join us and invite your friends.
Putting it into practice
Second, our learning will continue around the practice of breaking bread together at our monthly book club dinners. As we share food and share different perspectives, we will learn to build bridges of understanding with each other and enter into a deeper sense of community.
Our July book club selection is Disunity in Christ, by Christena Cleveland. If you haven’t joined the book club and purchased this book yet, I highly recommend it. If you plan to attend the book club dinner on July 28th, click here to RSVP.
Our August book club selection will be Peace Catalyst by Rick Love. Rick and his wife Fran are congregants at First Christian and Rick has extensive experience as a peacemaker building bridges between Christian and Muslim communities through his international nonprofit. The book club dinner that month will be August 25th.
Engaging the community
Third, starting in August, we will engage our neighbors to build bridges of understanding with our community at-large. This is part of what Scott spoke about in church yesterday when he taught on being “Rooted in the Neighborhood.”
No doubt, our existing ministries to the homeless and hungry in our neighborhood will be a primary way of doing this. But I believe we are being called to cross other boundaries with the gospel of grace.
On August 5th we will have one such opportunity when we engage in our first “Love Your Neighbor Dinner” at Masjid Al-ittehad in Vista. You are invited to join us, and I sincerely hope you will. I think we have much to learn about how the gospel empowers us to make peace in our world by building bridges of grace. Click here to RSVP.
I hope you are beginning to see that this isn’t merely about having a more “diverse” congregation. Diversity for its own sake is little more than vanity. Rather, this is about having a broad vision of the gospel of Christ; the good news that in Christ, God has invited everyone – including those who are different than us – to his abundant table of grace.
If we can learn to be that kind of church, then we will become a community that heals wounds, brings people together, and becomes a force for good (for wholeness!) to help our City truly thrive.