A Week of Q

Pastor's monthly newsletter article for May, 2012

I enjoyed the opportunity to spend the week after Easter at a Q Gathering in Washington D. C. Gabe Lyons, co-author of UnChristian and author of The Next Christian (among other books), founded Q in an attempt to recover a vision for the church’s historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures. Their goal is to explore and articulate a faith that pursues both personal and cultural renewal, and empowers individuals and churches to be faithful in the world. Information about Q can be found at www.quideas.org. This particular Q event was located in D.C., with the intent of considering how to advance the common good in a pluralistic society.

We heard from Amy Sherman during the gathering; author and researcher from the Sagamore Institute. She made a presentation entitled “Vocation in Cities,” based on Proverbs 11:10b:

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices.

She explained that the “righteous” (in the Hebrew language: “tsaddiquim”) are doers of justice, and workers for the common good. She defined rejoicing as a deep, significant, passionate delight. Because of the tsaddiquim, people of the city experience peace (in the Hebrew: “shalom”). It was a compelling vision for how a faith community might have an impact on its surroundings. She closed it with a haunting question: “Are our churches prompting this level of celebration in the cities?”

This question sums up much of what was shared in D.C. last month: doctors, business owners, church leaders, politicians, artists, theologians, community activists, students, educators, news broadcasters, attorneys… some seven hundred Christians, all asking how faith communities can cause their neighbors to celebrate the fact that the church (and Christ!)  is in their neighborhood.

I find this to be a helpful question, as I consider the ministries we have at Saint Peter Lutheran Church, and the ministries sponsored by our own Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; even as I consider the personal difference you and I make in our world. Are we prompting this level of celebration in our cities? What reasons do we give our neighbors to be glad that we are here? How are we advancing the common good? How are we answering God’s call to be renewers and restorers of society?

These are questions that all churches will have to take seriously if we want to thrive in years to come. I’ve long said that a church has no future until it finds a purpose outside of itself. Research shows that in order to be successful at reaching out to the next generation, this is an area where we are going to have to show more strength than we traditionally have.

So… are we — are you and I — prompting this level of celebration in our cities? Let me know what you think.

God’s peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor

p.s. The posts that follow contain snippets of the presentations from Q Washington D.C.  I hope they provide a glimpse of the conversations we had. It was a rich week, and I am grateful to Gabe Lyons and his team for hosting us. Pastor Dave