When we started the Slate Project three years ago, we thought the people we would attract would be folks who did not go to church. You know, the “nones” and the “dones.”
But what actually happened is the people who came to our weekly dinner liturgy and bible study and who followed us online, were all church people. Like, serious church people. They were leaders, lay and clergy, of their churches. They were also all about what we were doing-- reimagining what it means to be church.
At first, we didn’t know what to make of this.
Our denominational leaders REALLY didn’t know what to make of this. They wanted to know who our “lay leaders” were; who our “members” were.
The truth was over half of the people who were “rising up” as leaders in our budding community were seminary-trained. Many of them were ordained in their denominations and actively serving other parishes. They were CHURCH PEOPLE.
It took us almost two years to embrace what was actually happening.
The Slate Project is full of people who have a love/hate relationship with the church.
Something about what the Slate Project is doing appeals to people who are in the church AND who are trying to change the church from the inside.
I think a big reason why TSP is so attractive to these people is because we are HONEST about this. We are honestly self-critiquing the church’s present and past. We are not spending our time trying to convince anyone that the church is amazing and has it all together. We are actively admitting and discussing where the church does not have it all together and trying to work through those areas.
It is no secret that the church (every branch, denomination, congregation you can think of) has issues. Some denominations and sections of the church are further along in their quest to address these “issues” than others. Many of us in TSP come from denominations that ordain women, support LGBTQ full inclusion, and are at least trying to deal with racism, poverty and all the other messes humanity is mired in. However, many of us do not. We come from denominations that purported "purity culture," who refuse to support and acknowledge women's leadership, who demonize people of different sexualities and gender expressions, and who have fully bought into the colonialist, capitalists ways of doing church.
No matter what part of the church we come from or what denomination we are running away from, we all have a long way to go.
If we, the church, can admit where we have failed... if we can admit where we have fallen short... if we can admit where we have done harm to one another and sinned against our brothers and sisters... if we can admit, and CONFESS, the evil we have done and the evil done on our behalf... if we can say these things OUT LOUD... then we will have a better chance of tapping into the grace of God that will enable us to be something different, something better-- the Redeemed Body of Christ, living as Christ to the world.
The only way to live into God's dream for us is to seek it together. God is inviting us on a journey toward justice and freedom for all of us, for all of creation. The Slate Project is all about walking the journey of following the way of Jesus together. We need you. God needs you. There is a place for you here.