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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rexford

Forward Chats Notes: 3/31/19

Updated: Apr 1, 2019


A summary of the comments made at the First “Forward Chat”

The ideal church is a welcoming, accepting place

  • People are warmly received

  • Diversity is accepted and welcome

  • It has a place for everyone, no matter one's age or abilities

The ideal church is like a family

  • Love is at the center

  • It is a place where we are known and loved just as we are

  • It is a place where all generations interact – with lots of younger folks to balance the old ones

  • It is a place with children

  • It is a place where we meet friends and we connect with a warm community

The ideal church is a sanctuary

  • It is physically safe (Safe Church)

  • It is spiritually safe (there are no theological litmus tests)

  • It is emotionally safe – you are among friends in a culture of kindness

  • It provides a place that is peaceful in a world full of distrust and fear

  • It provides a time to get centered and recharged in a world full of stress and distractions

The ideal church nourishes its members – helps them learn, listen, share, grow, and feel completeT

  • The church offers rituals that are familiar and calming, allowing people to center down and feel the presence of God.

  • The church offers thought-provoking sermons and good music.

  • The church affirms that we are good people, empowering us to expand our capacity for goodness

  • The church connects us with other people who are also on a spiritual journey

  • The church reminds us of the guiding principles for being a good and loving person

  • The church exposes us to new information, ideas and ways of thinking about things

  • The church recognizes that members cannot give out continuously unless their energies are replenished – and not wasted by unnecessary church-related stress

The ideal church does the work of God

  • The congregation is the body of Christ / the hands and feet of God

  • Through the church, people make commitments to something greater than themselves

  • Things can be done by a group that cannot be accomplished by one person alone

  • It attracts new members naturally as it performs its mission in the world, showing others what Christianity really means

The ideal church knows how to communicate kindly and effectively

  • Everyone is willing to take responsibility for their own remarks

  • Conversation is designed to build up the church – to lift us up

  • Destructive parking lot gossip is actively discouraged

  • People listen with the intent of truly hearing, of taking in what the other person is saying

  • People listen kindly and assume the good intentions of others

  • People accept opinions different from their own

  • People forgive each other when there are offenses

  • The various working groups of the church (committees, staff, pastor, teams, etc.) communicate effectively in order to prevent unnecessary conflict

  • Individuals and church groups have the communication skills to resolve conflicts when they arise

The ideal church knows how to work together effectively

  • Everyone understands the structures the congregation uses to do its work and make decisions

  • Many people participate in the work of the church, not just a few

  • It discovers members skills and assets so that competent people are found for each task

  • It has a clear vision that helps them recognize the next best steps to achieve a common end

  • The various working groups within the church communicate well with the pastor and each other

  • The church doesn’t avoid issues or delay decisions. It gathers the information it needs, determines the goal and works expeditiously to reach it (by September!).

  • The church can commit to a change

The ideal church remembers WHY we do this

  • Even the smallest actions are informed by the great Christian principles (love your neighbor, first take care of the beam in your own eye, forgive without counting, etc., etc.)

  • People see the big picture – the forest, not just the trees – and spend their time and energy on things that matter to our purpose, not on minor issues that don’t really make a difference

  • The congregation is open the Holy Spirit, receptive to change and to the spontaneous bubbling-up of new ideas and new projects which may better meet the changing needs of changing times

  • A healthy church creates a framework that gives meaning to our lives (see Emily Esfahani Smith’s Ted Talk There’s More to Life than Being Happy.) Meaning comes from (1) a sense of belonging, (2) a purpose, (3) moments of transcendence, and (4) the story you tell yourself about your life.

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