Word of the Week

Who Are We?

There has been a conversation shift among the leadership of Washington Plaza folks recently. As plans are made for the fall, there is a question that is on all of our minds, "What is God's vision for our church?"

We seem to be asking it everywhere recently-- in the finance committee meetings as we have been preparing the stewardship promotional materials for the upcoming campaign, in a focus group that Moderator, Jane led in my home last Tuesday, in the Land Use Committee meeting that was held on Saturday in my office.

For, we as a congregation have reached the point where we as a pastor/ congregation have settled into one another. The church, I believe, understands what they can expect from me in terms of style of leadership, preaching, administration, etc. And, I have been the process of "really, really" knowing the folks who I serve here with me.

So, now is the time to move, but to do so intentionally.

The first question that we've begun discussing a lot is: "Who are we?"  Or, "what makes us special in this community?"

Answers I've heard around the church recently have included:

  • We're a loving fellowship of people who needed to see the church in different way than they'd experienced it before
  • We are diverse, open-minded and inclusive
  • We are good at hospitality
  • We try to follow the teachings of Jesus in helping other people
  • We like the intimate size of our community and the possibilities this has for truly knowing one another
  • We are afraid of what growth might do to the "feel" of our church
  • We don't want this to become a _______ church (you name it and it has been inserted: we don't want to be a mega church. We don't want to be a gay church. We don't want to be a conservative church. We don't want to be a liberal church, etc).

I've generally agreed with all I've heard.  We are loving, diverse and inclusive. This does make us quite unique in the roll call of Reston churches.

But, my fear is that we might be too comfortable with what comes natural to us and unwilling to stay on the journey toward all that is lies ahead in our future.

No, I don't see mega church status in our future. But it doesn't mean we have to be afraid of growth or the type of people in particular that are brought our way (whoever they are).  Yes, there will be folks who will naturally find us as a congregation, but that doesn't mean that we should be stopped from sharing our story with those who need us just as much but might not be as self-motivated. This is the call of evangelism to which Jesus himself gave us.  (But not the scary kind you are thinking of).

If I were answering the question of "Who are we?" as a congregation these would be some of my additions to the list:

  • We are a church that takes the Bible seriously and seeks to be theologically grounded in the experience of scripture, tradition and what it means to be the church
  • We want to do something useful for God in our local community and beyond
  • We want to do justice by the example of how our community interacts with one another, not through public displays or protests
  • We are really good with adults, but learning to how to be welcoming to children
  • We have members from all political parties and theological spectrums, but seem to currently draw in those who are socially liberal but theologically conservative. We are a place where folks can "re-learn" how to embrace the "Baptistness" of their upbringing.
  • We are so committed to our ideas sometimes that we'll go at projects alone, even if no one supports us

The hope is over the next couple of months, we as a congregation will begin to more precisely tell our story as it is now and as we hope it to be told in the future.  Because as much as we want to rush to off to the action steps of "doing" what is next, I believe it is just fine for now to stay with the question of simply, "Who are we?"

What do you think, Washington Plaza friends did I get any of this right?