Christians believe in confession, right? We practice it in a variety of ways based on our own backgrounds, but it remains an important practice in our collective life.
Right now, I’m in the midst of doing a large research study. It’s the Final Project for my Doctor of Ministry degree. I’m conducting 40 in-depth interviews with people who are religiously unaffiliated and/or Christians who have stopped participating in traditional, institutional churches. I’m seeking to address this primary research question:
When participants imagine or seek participation in a spiritual community, what traits, practices, and organizational forms do they most value?
I can’t talk a lot about the details of the study responses yet, because it isn’t complete. I can tell you that I am gaining so many important perspectives and hearing incredible wisdom from people.
I can tell you this too:
No one ever says…
… I’d like to be a part of a community where I feel boxed in, personally judged, and scapegoated.
… I’d like to be a part of a community where one person or a small group of people have disproportionate power and decision-making ability.
… I’d like to be a part of a community where there are layers of secrecy and a real lack of transparency.
So. . . why, oh why, do people have these kinds of experiences so regularly in Christian congregations?
Therein lies the confession.
But also, hear the good news: There are other visions. There are other ways to live in spiritual community.