One of my seminary colleagues posted his new sign outside the Unitarian Church that he pastors in the UK. While the language is familiar to us Methodists, the punctuation is not. What do you see that is different?
My friend’s church:
The UMC’s slogan (click to enlarge):
That’s right, the colon, which grammatically means that the antecedent qualifies or completes the precedent.
- In my friend’s church, they might be affirming (at least linguistically!) that Open Hearts are what lead to Open Minds.
- In the UMC’s statement, they might be affirming (again, at least linguistically), that the UMC has all of these separate qualities.
This started me wondering that if my friend is onto something and let’s apply it to the UMC’s statement of Open Hearts, Minds, and Doors. Which comes first: Open hearts or open doors?
- Open Hearts lead to Open Doors if a congregation has a conviction that Christ welcomes all to their church. That conviction might lead them to open the doors for all (in the whole spectrum of what that means in their missional context). Conviction leads to experience.
- On the flipside, Open Doors leads to Open Hearts if the congregation is forced to deal with diversity and the spectrum of the human condition by opening their doors. These shared experiences with people different from themselves might lead them to have Open Hearts and truly experience change. Experience leads to Conviction.
- In the middle is the Open Minds, which perhaps is the key to the whole deal.
I think it’s important that any understanding of church be transformational: that one value leads to another leads to another.
I actually like my friend’s sign better than the UMC’s because of the articulation of a progression rather than a listing of static values. In a world that is more savvy to hypocrisy, perhaps we ought not focus on values but how our values shape and inform other values. Maybe consistancy and webs of interconnected affirmations become as important as the values themselves!
So which direction do you think transformation happens in this context? From conviction to experience, or from experience to conviction? Or are they inseparable?