Generous Orthodoxy  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The subject of the verb: God, or us?

Tony Robinson is one of the most active church leaders in the United States, greatly in demand as he teaches congregations and denominations about church life. His work has a deep theological underpinning, which many congregational-development gurus don't have.  He and I have often talked about the importance of showing that God is active in the world whether we cooperate or not. Here is one of his reflections that illustrates the way that our language about God does, or does not, glorify God in the life of the church (and world):

My unscientific experience has been that virtually every mainline congregation identifies itself by what it is or what it does. "We are a congregation that..."  Particularly popular is the note of welcome. "We welcome all people regardless of...." And yet, as I have often written before, this is simply not always true. There is no congregation that will embrace everyone. I have personal knowledge of people who, for various reasons, have been shunned, ignored, or even asked to leave a church advertising itself as "radically hospitable." No congregation is competent to advertise itself this way. Rather, as St Paul writes, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant...."  (II Corinthians 2:5-6)

Here is Tony Robinson's website: