As part of our ongoing commitment to great Wednesday content on our blogs, Melinda and I have another insightful post for you in our series on church rebels. Or actually Melinda wrote this one. All I did was cuss at the WordPress programmers who make formatting harder than it should be. But I like to think that still counts as a contribution on my part.
A couple of years ago, I read something and decided maybe the way my religious tradition understood eschatology wasn’t the best possible exegesis of the texts. So I “began a study” on eschatology, and by that of course I mean that I bought books, bookmarked internet articles, used up post-its and a few pages in a few notebooks and compiled a list of questions. And then explanatory questions. And then a few more questions.
And then I moved onto the next study.
Thoughts for Rebels:
Finish a study/book all the way through and develop an opinion on it. Sometimes, when I pause a book to “think about it,” I don’t come back to it, and then don’t come to a conclusion on the topic. So finish something. And make a decision. And then give grace to yourself… and to others. I think part of the issue I have with saying “hey I believe this” is that what if tomorrow I wake up and something happens and I don’t believe this anymore? The answer: just like there’s grace to have questions without answers, there’s grace to arrive at an answer based on the evidence at my disposal, and then change my answer. Find people who love answers but don’t know how to ask questions well and put yourself around them– sit next to them in church, join their small groups and invite them out for beers. They’ll push you toward answering your questions, and maybe they’ll learn something about asking some questions, too.
Thoughts for leadership:
Listen well. If you’re not used to engaging questioners, it may be awkward at first. Some of us are probably not all that used to really seeking answers. When you have two people trying to figure something out for the first time, it’s bound to get awkward. The way to meet that: listen well. And where you step on each other’s toes, go back to square one and listen well again.
We all want people to have informed belief systems. Figure out what your people are thinking about, and create space for study and discussion. Rob Bell coming out with a new book you’re concerned your rebels will gravitate toward? Pair one of them up with a teacher with a less heretical viewpoint, and ask the two of them to facilitate a discussion group. This gives your rebel the motivation to keep studying and reach his answers, and gives you half a small group leader– win-win?
Which issues do you have the most trouble arriving at clear opinions on? If you don’t struggle so much with questions, which issues are most frustrating for you when others won’t arrive at answers?