St James Ministry Team

A blog from the Ministry Team of St James Church, Colwall, Herefordshire, UK

2007-03-08

On being inclusive

Following on from our awayday, I have been thinking about what we ought to do to be inclusive. I had a look at the Inclusive Church website – very worthy certainly, but lacking something [and now just a commercial site. Ed]. And that something seems to me to be a programme, a plan, a positive something to present to the world, not just an acceptance of what the world presents to us. ‘Come unto me’ says Jesus to all the world, but what means we have to present Jesus to the world. We don’t accept, God does.

The idea of inclusivity stems from a feeling that everyone – not just Christians, but atheists, Muslims and anyone not agreeing with ourselves – is far too easy to condemn others. We do disagree, but how do we handle that? The problem is we get emotionally committed to our intellectual positions. Unfortunately it is only as we grow older that we become capable of seeing through our commitment, but as we grow older we also become more and more emotionally attached to them.

Consequently, if we are to be more inclusive as a church we need to be able to overcome these emotional barriers. Partly this is a question of love. It is far too easy to be dismissive of others and we should not fall into this trap. Remember, even Dawkins is trying to do good! The other thing is to engage in dialogue and that means accepting that our own point of view cannot be certain. We cannot engage in dialogue if our minds are already made up.

And that seems to me means we must accept that some changes in our beliefs are inevitable. The criticisms that people make of Christian beliefs are sometimes justified and we need to be clearer about how we could accept them and how, for example in the case of homosexuality, we do accept them. Being clearer about these things may also help us to make the church more relevant and help us to reach the majority of people who do not go to church.

So the programme for being inclusive means teaching, starting with ourselves and our congregation. Now it just so happens (!) that I have been updating my website, where I am actually going about learning how to justify what we believe to an agnostic world. I would be delighted if any of you gave it a visit!

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