Boldness is a key in transformative ministry. In order for a church to be bold, they must have courage and confidence to step out of what is comfortable and take a risk. Humans naturally fear what they don’t know, so this is a difficult move for churches.
No one wants to hurt anyone else’s feelings, after all, we are Christians. So we ignore taboo topics. Churches are good at using their voices to speak at, but refuse to speak against contemporary issues. But we are not in conversation WITH others on these subjects. We need to be intentional, engaged and active listeners and intentional, careful and prayerful speakers.
Keep in mind that post-civil rights generations bring with them a different set of lenses then those before them. Most of us have never been in a legally segregated classroom, workplace, restaurant or recreational area. We have grown up with computers in our classrooms and information right in front of us. “There are few matters about which the post-civil rights generations have not been exposed, educated or informed.” (pg. 34). However, the church is one of the remaining places where segregation still exists. These post-civil rights generations want to connect with congregations will engage in conversations instead of clichéd phrases. “As long as congregations remain stuck, they remain unable to discuss taboo subjects and thereby, unable to be relevant and willing participants in transformation.” (pg.35)
The reason churches tend to get “stuck” is because they are fearful of moving away from the comfortable. This means not everyone will agree, but if we keep in mind that we are called to love everyone, even those we don’t agree with, the church can move in a direction that allows them to overcome their fears. The authors walk through a process that enables churches to get to the place where we can engage in uncomfortable places and conversations and still accept one another.
In our country today, we tend to pick a side, and then the other side becomes “wrong” or the enemy. No longer do we engage in conversations and listen to one another. This is counter to what John Wesley encouraged in via media, the middle way. By living a life that is rich in diversity, people who look, speak, learn and grow differently than you, means we must learn to understand one another, not judge. Acceptance is not the same as agreement.
One simple way to expose yourself to different opinions and ideas is through a small group study with people who are not like yourself.
Finally, the authors end this chapter with this: “Congregations must lean toward holy boldness instead of timid blandness, remembering that being lukewarm is condemned in Revelation 3:16.” (pg. 43) AMEN.