As part of Orange Week, I was supposed to post about my favorite general session from a past Orange Conference… yesterday. I had every intention of doing so, but as it is with life there just wasn’t enough time. So, here is my Tuesday contribution to Orange Week… on Wednesday. The cool thing about this post is that I get to kill two birds with one stone! (Sorry about the cliche). I also get to finish a series that I had planned on doing way back at the end of July and then in September called Revisiting Orange 2010. (No comments on the irony of the timing of this post!)
Anyhoo… 2010 was the first time I had attended the Orange Conference. While I’ve known about the Orange Conference way back to when it was the Grow Up Conference in the early days when Orange was but a twinkle in Reggie Joiner’s eye, I never had the opportunity to head over to Atlanta until last year. I’m glad I was able to because what I heard at the first session was more than worth the entire conference for me. If it weren’t for all the amazing kidmins I got to connect with in person, I could’ve gone home a happy kidmin after hearing Chris Wiersma, who is the lead pastor of Westside King’s Church in Calgary. You can check out my initial notes and impressions from Chris’s presentation here.
As I look through my notes and re-listen to Chris’s talk, I am still impacted by his call for us to relentlessly look for the image of God in the people we come in contact with on a daily basis.
Here are just a few quotes from Chris:
“[Those outside the church] expect us to love them because they know we want to win them.”
“[Those outside the church] expect us to cooperate inside of our churches because that makes us successful.” (emphasis mine)
“Our culture is waiting for the death of our rhetoric… And they know our rhetoric will have died when they see us linking arms with people who believe differently than we do even though those beliefs are pointed at the same Jesus.”
We spend so much time as a church thinking that we have the answers to everyone’s problems. We swoop in as saviors and presume to teach people how to live their lives. Is it any wonder that when unChristian came out, one of the “outsiders” encapsulated how many people view Christians by saying,
“Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, antigay, antichoice, angry violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone, and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe” (pg. 26)
Chris calls us to a new way of approaching people: humble and eager to learn. Instead of, first, imagining the impact we can have on people, we need to imagine the impact other people can have on us. We need to stop worrying about looking good and making a good impression and simply connect with people solely based on the fact that we all have a hint of God in us. We’re all created in God’s image. Albeit, that image is marred and broken, we still have that in common with every human being, and we need to begin connecting with that in others willing to learn from them and allowing the Holy Spirit to do only what he can do in the midst of that relationship: redemption.
Were you there for Chris’ message? I’d love to hear how it has affected how you reach out to children and families? Has it changed how you connect with people? (Today’s guest post by Henry Zonio- pushing children’s ministry forward at elementalcm.com)