(Photo taken at Camp Weed.)

(Photo taken at Camp Weed.)

Got a call today from a well-meaning Christian person who has a “really cool project idea,” making videos to send to family and friends from whom individuals may be estranged.

They have a great idea – they just need access to our Church Without Walls congregation to execute it. He was ready to come this Sunday.

What bothers me is the rush, the push, the hurry. Are you willing to come hang with us every Sunday for a while before you begin to diagnose what folks need? Are you willing to sit and pray with us a while and to discern what you might need?

People who want to swoop in and do good deeds without even getting to know us bothers me. A lot. It smacks of using people rather than truly getting to know them. It smacks of taking from a community rather than entering into it.

God, give me patience and compassion for well-meaning people. And strength to stand by what seems right.

I told this person: “Let me talk with the community first and see what they want to do.” He struggled with this, wanting instead to just show up. “For me to allow you to do that would be to betray the trust of this community. That’s what we are – a community.”

Jesus isn’t about projects and programs. He is about relationships, first and foremost. If I wonder which relationships to work on first, I need only look at who is in front of me. In our baptismal covenant, we promise to respect the dignity of every human being. That includes allowing each person to have a voice. It includes allowing others the dignity to say “no thank you” to another’s good idea for them.

Maybe I should tear a page from the playbook from our congregants, who, when someone at church is getting a little out of line or inappropriate, will say: “Not here, man. This is church.”

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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