Twenty people make up the core of the Study Committee of our congregation. Naturally, effort was made to ensure these persons reflected the broadest possible representation of our consitiuency. Some are long time members, others within the past five years. Different areas of ministry, worship experiences, gender and life experiences are represented.
After three months of meeting, the diverstiy of this group is beginning to be clear. After the last session, one of the members said to me, "People sure see things from different perspectives don't they!?". My response was, "Welcome to my world."
My position gives me the opportunity to listen to people as they share their stories and perspectives. It is no surprise that not everyone sees things from the same perspective. Lovitt Weems comments how individuals and subsets of the community see ministry through a narrow telescope ring true. The goal is to turn the perspective so each ministry and personal agenda can be measured from the focus of greatest good and overall ministry fulfillment.
That is easier said than done. Especially if we do not address the deep personal/emotional places where we all live. Recently, I have been in conversation with a family where the ability to understand each other is limited unless each moves from the cognative to the emotional to understand each other completely. Those who are strong lose empathy for others whose pain is at a level they have never experienced. Some keep waiting for the other to, "get their act together". The reality is, those who are in emotional hell don't want to be there. They are at least as frustrated as the others around them, usually more so.
I see this in the life of our connection as Elders. I believe the best way to begin the work of taking the next steps of strenghening our connection is to begin by having holy conversation and relationships with each other. We can not hold each other accountable, support each other, or work in harmony together unless we are willing to truly know each other. There is no one way to accomplish this, but it at least begins by talking and listening to each other. This includes the knowledge we have and the truth we feel.
We talk about effective ministry, accountable relationships, and true covenant. To live it, in our congregations, families and Orders is to first be willing to understand that indeed, "We do see and feel things from different perspectives". Yet in those differences can come our greatest chance for creativity, growth and power moving forward. In those differences, we also can find what holds us together. "May I come to understand myself by truly understanding you and discovering the we God has always intended for us to be."