Her name is Sara. She is a bright, articulate, passionate and fearless young adult. She is a lay delegate from Minnesota. She has spoken several times on the floor of the general conference. She has argued for love and grace for all, for ethics that match our words and beliefs and a church that is engaged in the issues of our day. She gives me hope about the future of the church.
His name is Sean. I sat next to him in a committee meeting. He is a young person from Massachusetts who has felt the pull and tug of the call of God and even though he has his concerns about the church, he is answering the call to serve. He recognizes the new realities and says matter of factly that he will most likely be bivocational in his ministry life, and he states it probably is a more effective way to be engaged in the transformation of the world. He gives me hope for the future of the church.
Today is my last day at General Conference. By all accounts it is to be a “brutal” day as we engage in conversation about matters of sexuality. We will talk to each other in ways that are hurtful and derogratory all in the name of upholding biblical principles. On a day like today, it is easy to despair about the future of the church. A church that started because God so loved the world, the whole world, the God gave us the fullness of God, Jesus, so that we all my have life…a future with hope. But then people like Sara stand at the microphone and argue for love and grace. And people like Sean embody that grace. That is what gives me hope.
I walked by a group of young adults a couple of days ago who were wearing t-shirts that said something like, I am the future leader of the church…and the word future was croseed out and the word current was inserted. I commented as I walked by that I liked their shirts. I know that I am in a position of leadership of the church, and I like being in a role where I can make a difference and shape the future of the church. There are a lot of people in my age cohort who are “running” things right now. We are passionate and care about this church. But we are not the only leaders in this church. I believe the biggest difference I can make as a leader is to lift up and empower other leaders, particularly younger leaders. This is not easy because it means making room, stepping aside, listening to other perspectives that might challenge my worldview. But there is something biblical about all of that too…Philippians 2, in the Message, says: Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.