We are all wonderfully made

Column by Rev. Irene Monroe on 30 March 2023 0 Comments

The Bible is replete with stories of various gender identities in God's people. These biblical stories affirm that we all are wonderfully made and affirm our God-given right to live them out loud.

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Why are so many progressive Christian churches dying?


Dear Reader,

I invite you to consider that there are many reasons why churches are dying or transitioning. Here are a few from my observation.

1. Outdated, irrelevant, exclusive liturgy
Churches need to talk about how white supremacy is centered symbolically in their images, symbols, and language. Examples of this are images of a white Jesus, language that speaks of whiteness as being pure and blackness as being evil, women being absent from the imagery, and the divine only being seen and understood in the masculine or binary pronouns.

Outdated, inaccessible, and exclusive liturgies contribute to empty seats.

Symbols, language, music, curriculum, images, prayers, terms, metaphors... all of this matters and affects how many people and what types of people are drawn to the church.

2. White (progressive) polite culture
White polite culture is the slow death of church communities across America. It is a dangerous, quiet, and hard-to-detect disease. It shows up as false kindness, greeting folks at the door but never fully seeing them or caring for them. It shows up as asking little of the pastor and fear of change. It is prideful, and it arises out of white fragility. It can be seen in the othering of folks who are different from the old guard of the church, often under the guise of helping those people.

White progressive polite is a culture of avoidance and hero worship. Authenticity can not easily survive in communities with this culture.

3. Lack of a clear vision 
Too many churches do not have a clear vision of what their purpose is. When I visit a church, I want to clearly see the values of the church and how the community is living into those values. What actions are they taking? What level of discomfort are they willing to be in to be radically inclusive? I want to see a church that is clear on its mission and its values. Because if the church knows its purpose, it will know how to act when there is a gap to fill. I want to see a church that is doing the hard work of becoming radically authentic with each other. I want to see the church doing something to effect change. Be that in the lives of the congregants, their local town, or affecting state and national legislature.

~ Rev. Deshna Shine




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