This is the final post in a series that explores one section of our mapping responses. All the responses from our cells were bursting with new ideas. We are not afraid to voice an idea, even if we know we might end up responsible for enacting it! There is a lot of courage among us.
Here is the main question, again: Given what you think is going to happen in our society and in the world in the next five years, what do you think Jesus wants to do through his church, in general, not just us?
Part of the eighteen pages of responses highlighted showing God’s love in practical ways.. In order to do what Jesus wants to do cell members highlighted seven ways we should act:
Remember that people were thinking about the next five years. We know that it takes a long time to develop practical ways to show God’s love. Even if some things seem impractical now, in the long run, we accomplish some amazing things together!
Focus (people had some hopes for our character)
- Offer radical/unexpected love
- Jesus wants to do ever more compassionate service through the Church
- Serve without expectation. Share without agenda (the church doesn’t need credit for our compassion).
- Loving the marginalized.
- We think the church is called to be a support system for people in need, both physically and emotionally. This is for all people, not just those in the church group.
Application (they had ways to express our character)
- Create and join compassionate service opportunities where youth can be useful, valuable and effective contributors (not just fuel consumerism and compete with their various forms of entertainment), keep SHOWING UP as light in the midst of darkness and fear and oppression.
- There was a strong emphasis on no-strings-attached charity and service. A lot of examples were discussed but it essentially came down to the idea that when things like Hurricane Katrina happen, Jesus wants his people to be the first ones on the scene and serving as humbly and unceremoniously as possible.
- We want to continue to support and develop compassion teams, but with an emphasis upon partnership, not invention. We don’t need to develop the wheel, but we do need to be involved in our neighborhoods.
- Offer consistent ways to express God’s love (i.e. For the Love of Childs)
- Using our spaces and collective energy to continue awareness and information sharing in our communities and neighborhoods about our environment (water, land, food, housing etc)
- Live out compassion -Immigrants, refugees, aware of hurtful (and incorrect) language such as “illegals”
- Growing and developing leaders for the next thing. Systems of oppression are gaining more weight and steam. There is the potential for less impact of the church in the U.S. in the coming years. We need to continue growing and developing leaders to stand up to oppression and to go against the mainstream acceptance of exploitation.
Foment societal justice
I appreciate how the cells did not shy away from naming the great injustices and frightening expressions of evil in our day!
- Lift up the oppressed, giving a voice to the marginalized.
- Stand on the side of justice, with people who are oppressed and wronged, even if it means it could be a scary place to be standing, at times feel intense. Call for lots of bold action to be where Jesus is with the people who are suffering. Confront injustice regardless of political climate.
- Be adamant about choosing the oppressed.
- Put feet behind our love; confront hate with love. Stand with those who are targeted by hate and fear
- Make ourselves available to learn from and act on social justice concerns – race, economics, violence, sexual orientation, disparities of all kinds, homelessness, gentrification, refugees, displacement, gender, etc.
- Have love and compassion for oppressors, too – humanize all.
- See injustice against sexuality.
- We also think God has called us to have a heart for oppressed people, particularly immigrants and children (schools).
- Being focused on social justice work regarding education and public health issues – specifically in Philly. Serving and helping our neighbors who may not have the same resources available to them.
- There is greater polarization in the country. People experience increased cost of living with wages not keeping up. Pope Francis talks about social justice and caring for the poor on a larger platform. Resist consolidation of power and wealth (that leads to oppression).
- Advocate for access to healthcare, education, and prioritizing families.
- Take anti-consumerist action against oppressive systems and big money structures.
- Be a part of creating hope for a sustainable future (ecologically)
- Stay close to issues like refugee crisis,
- Have concern for taking care of the poor and environmental issues, social issues, queer issues.
- I think we are becoming more conversant about same-sex attraction, more progressive.
- It’s crazy not to marry gay people.
Be devoted to peacemaking
I separated out his focus because there we so many entries devoted to it.
- Circle of Hope could have louder voice in peace and social justice issues – need to unleash hefty, passionate leaders for this and compassion teams in general.
- Be peacemakers. Do peacemaking. I think we’ll be a prophetic for peace and justice. Let’s be a major advocate for peace.
- More US involvement in war is on the horizon. How do we take a stand against those powers that want to destroy and kill as opposed to support and love?
- We will be protesting war and engaging in much needed peacemaking missions and demonstrations.
- Stay aware of police violence.
- Jesus wants us to stand against mass incarceration, a government that kills, and hate filled politicians accessing and thriving on fear. Jesus liberates
In other sections of the responses there is also this far-reaching outlook. It seems like we have a new interest in global connections, especially with MCC.
- The global Church may be seeing doctrine and interpretation of scripture and common doctrine shifting more toward accepting women in leadership and in openness to homosexual people. This may continue to cause division.
- We are longing for global unity of Christians around the world: transnational and interfaith.
- Global church will need to deal with climate change; it’s going to alter everyone’s lives.
- Strengthen connections among the world-wide church – we need each other or else we get small,
- Remember the Palestinians
- Reinforce all we do through MCC. Talk about being compassionate and multicultural!
This is not a new idea, but it has a lot more traction these days. Practical steps are already being taken to explore what we need to do.
- One great opportunity that’s both immediate to notice and also has room for development are the businesses and organizations/teams and resources associated with Circle, and Circle members. Not in an “advertising” sense, but rather in the sense that good, sustainable businesses/organizations and events in the community are associated with Circle – examples that immediately come to mind are Circle Thrift (and Thrift Too), the debt annihilation team, the job share and housing board. Not to mention member-owned resources/organizations that offer avenues to incredible networking and collaboration opportunities. These are awesome initiatives. I feel like if there was more visibility of this – of what members are actually doing or seeking collaboration with in some way (similar to the job/housing share) it would be good in encouraging collaborative projects, which inevitably (if smooth) tighten relationships.
- I am interested in developing the business capacity of our Church. I think we can be part of a ground swell of interest in more intimate relationship as opposed to hollow corporate structure. But specifically that we could promote good business that afforded people an opportunity to participate in the economy as opposed to be oppressed by it (stakeholder vs shareholder). This will also allow people the freedom to obey God with their money, which is a problem. I think there might be some fear based economic decision making hurting us a people. We talk about debt slavery and I am seeing it in a new way. Prior to the Civil War there was the underground railroad made possible by people of faith. They took risks, they saved a few, but more importantly they put faith to action which saved many more. The act of it was almost symbolic (in terms of volume) while the fruit of it was Jesus’ transformation. I must admit I am also a little afraid, there is an old joke: “the Quakers came to America to do good and they did quite well” [finanacially]. But I have hope that we can be like Saul of Tarsus; making tents while building the kingdom.
- Symbiotic relationships businesses that resist racism & classism that can be replicated throughout the community.
- We think Circle Thrift is an amazing aspect of our compassionate outreach and should continue to be expanded (North Philly, please).
Plan for secure finances
- Nurture financial literacy
- Create jobs and other financial resources including solutions for college loans
- More fundraising for the church.
- Continuing sharing our resources and getting people organized in a tough economy,
- There were also ideas about pooling resources from within a large body of Christians (The Church!). Things like free medical care and free tutoring/education were mentioned.
- More programs directed to kids, volunteering with programs geared towards children.
- Provide college enrollment coaches
- Our families and children need more support and educational resources.
- We hope that the children’s teams/ministry will continue to improve and care for our kids.
- Help parents parent well. Provide more parenting resources
There were many other questions in our survey and people had a lot more to say about the subjects in these four posts I have written than I have included. The dialogue is ongoing! A draft Map is already being written.