To improve our ability to communicate about this topic, each of us composed an "elevator speech." This is Eric's:
One of the things that gets under my skin is the feeling of dismissal. Perhaps you know what I am talking about. I can think of multiple occasions where I was asked to serve on a committee at church just to be a warm body. When I offered my opinion, many times it was met with enthusiasm because the young person was speaking. But when it came down to it, my ideas were dismissed because they were different, difficult, or new. The worst part was that I felt dismissed because of how I approached conversations and decisions differently. I felt hurt. I found out later that this is called "evaluativism," or rejecting other viewpoints because they are different from your own. In a church that preaches love and grace, I believe it is important to honor everyone's authentic style. This means we need to create contexts that are affirming of each other and safe for both agreement and disagreement--a place where we can help each other grow--and I believe that learning about evaluative diversity is one route to that place. Would you care to be companions on this journey?At the meeting in which Eric shared that speech, we settled on a vision statement--a sort of north star that can tell us if we have gotten off track. Here it is:
Authentically me living as gracious communityThis vision statement came from three months of prayer, thought, and discussion, and we felt it opens the door to share the discussion with others. What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to live? What does it mean to be gracious? These are questions worth discussing.
Debi offered this brief explanation:
Authentically me = centered and truthfulWe recognize the tensions between individualism and communitarianism, designing and being, knowledge and mystery. Even though this vision statement does not resolve those tensions, we believe it is clear enough that sincere reflection on it can allow a person to recognize whether evaluativism remains a destructive part of our world.
living as = action of being something intentionally
gracious community = the grace-filled community or group
Our next step is to develop our mission statement and objectives. What needs to be done to turn this vision into reality? We deeply appreciate your continued prayers!