Many years ago, when I was still in the process of discerning a call to ordained ministry, the church I attended was involved in a consultation process with the Rev. Dr. Tom Bandy. Twenty plus years later there are still things that influence my ministry. One was his statement that the heart of a Christian community was transformed adults. So many congregations in the past emphasized Sunday School and then wondered why the children disappeared once they reached the age of confirmation, along with their parents. The parents’ faith had never deepened and developed beyond Sunday morning to become an integral part of their lives.
The other thing he said was that in the future, lay people were going to be the credible Christians. As someone discerning a call into ordained ministry this took me aback, as I grew up in the days when clergy were the credible ones, the ones with knowledge, authority and status in a community.
This came to mind this morning as I listened to Shaun Loney speak to a varied group at the Atlantic School of Theology about social enterprise. I know NOTHING about his religious background, but as he spoke about how one of the companies he’s founded only hires people with three strikes against them, he spoke about the last being first, definitely words of Jesus. He also spoke of this sentiment being at the heart of all great religious movements, so I have no idea if he is a Christian. It was powerful to hear him speaking of how the bedrock of his faith undergirds his business practices and how he seeks to live.
In the same way, I have tried to encourage the various congregations I have served to be able to share with their friends the basis of their involvement with a faith community and that an invitation from them is far more powerful and impactful than one from me. Who are the credible Christians in your circle?
And that’s my window on God’s world.