In the city where I live, there are three main ministerial groups. One is an interfaith group that has Christians, Jews, Muslims and other groups participate. One is an African American group that gathers the pastors from the black churches in our community. And the third is an evangelical group that is made up primarily of more conservative white churches. The three groups all exist, in part, because they haven’t wanted to mix with each other. They are somewhat intentional bubbles in which religious leaders have chosen to live.
Some of this is race. Some of this is theology. Some of this is just the joy of running our own circles without the messiness of having to talk and work with people from different viewpoints.
Sadly, many leaders simply don’t meet with anyone. While there are over 150 congregations in the city where I live, probably only a quarter of these congregations routinely participate in anything that connects them, even within the bubbles to which they most naturally fit. Many consider their own congregational ministry enough and being involved in wider work in the community is just not on the radar. If you are reading this post, I hope that does not define you.
But if you are connecting outside your congregational setting, it is still likely that you are in a bubble. Perhaps you meet with people from your denomination or ecumenically with those most like you. But if you are not meeting with people of different ethnicities, perspectives and religious circles then this may be a time to widen the circle.
This may be as easy as simply connecting to one or two other groups. Or it may be harder, as there may be bigger gaps or whole groups of people left out – you may have to work hard at this.
But the reign of God is pictured as a gathering of people “from every tribe and nation.” To be the church, we embody the reign as best as we are able in our work today. Changing who you meet with may be the best way to change your ministry and for your community to see a glimpse of heaven where you live now.