I spent 9 years living outside of Boston, and one of the amazing aspects of that part of the country is the sheer number of academic institutions in the greater Boston area.  There were always lectures to attend if you were so inclined.  (You know, back in the day when these offerings were only in person!)  Anyway, over the years I heard wonderful presentations from people like Phyllis Tickle, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Diana Butler Bass, Michael S. Piazza, and Brene Brown. 

Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ELCA Pastor, author, and founded the House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver.  She gave a presentation on what it is to be the Church in the Emerging World back in 2014 (when I attended with my best friend Emilia).  Something Nadia shared that day has stayed with me.  Nadia Bolz-Weber related that her church embraced a model of “anti-excellence/pro-participation.”  People can walk in off the street (literally) and help lead the worship service on any given Sunday.  The point is not that worship or events have to be excellent, it’s authenticity the community is after.  It’s that everyone is invited to participate.  What does that say about the House for All Sinners & Saints?  “Hi Stranger, we trust you with the holy things.”  (I wrote that quote word for word).

The truth is that there are some churches where the professional staff are many and sometimes all full-time to boot.  Not just professional clergy.  Multiple professional musicians and social media gurus and web developers and sound technicians and Christian educators and childcare professionals and on and on.  Sometimes this can turn into people showing up to be entertained.  Worship and programming is all about the sleek product being offered.

Now compare this church model to an anti-excellence/pro-participation model. 
Perhaps a model where there is shared leadership in general among clergy, church staff, and the laity.  Where we all have to work together to be the church. 

I see these shared leadership dynamics play out during Lent and Holy Week. 
Yes, I put together the worship services in consultation with Kim and Nicole. 
Holy Week takes a lot of planning, months of planning by our church staff in fact!

But if we didn’t have our Choir and our Communion Class and Good Friday readers and ushers and Church Life handling the flower decorating and Deacons preparing Communion for multiple services and people who do many things behind the scenes . . . it wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful! 

Over the years of my ministry, I have come to think of church work in general as
anti-perfectionism/pro-participation.  (That’s the phrase I’ve adapted and adopted.)
That’s why I love when our children and youth help lead worship services. 
And being part of our Choir as we show up for extra rehearsals to get ready for Easter. 
Or seeing our congregation mold with clay on Ash Wednesday or paint ash crosses on a sheet of fabric or process inside the sanctuary waving palms on Palm Sunday.
Or seeing the final product of our church family making 1,000 origami butterflies for an Easter surprise.

Perfection is not the point.  
Participating in the old, old story, made new in our re-telling is the point.
Authenticity is the point. 

Thank you for helping to make our congregation here at Colchester Federated Church a true community of faith where all are welcome.

Love,
Pastor Lauren

Photo by Sophie Dale on Unsplash