-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Rebecca and I have frequently repeated this quote over the last year of discerning about starting a new church. When we were called to move to Everett, we put this quote on the back of our "all things church" binder, where it remains today. This quote not only resonated deeply with us, but has become central to our new journey in Everett.
Now, do I think dreaming is bad when it comes to the church? No. But hear me out.
When I hear this quote, I hear in it the temptation to look at this new church community we are exploring as the place where all of my critique of church can finally be put down. I see a community living up to my ideal of what church should be. I see a place where all that I hate about the church is left in the past, and where all that is right and just in the church is lived out perfectly. This church I envision becomes a projection, a way to deal with all that I see wrong in the modern church.
It would be a church created in the image of all that I hate, dislike, and critique about the church.
It would be a church created in my image.
This is where dreaming gets dangerous: when it becomes about me. As a straight white male, my ideals of what church should be is intimately affected by my place of privilege in our culture.* My thoughts and dreams and critiques about the church come from this place. And, while a church built on dreams like this might be the answer to my middle-class angst, it will likely become a difficult place to live out the justice and love of God in our community.
So this is why I want to dream. And why I can't dream alone.
I want to dream with those who have been pushed to the margins, listening to them about what church should be, not just inviting them to church.
I want to dream with people who are not white, not straight, and not male, even if the ideas about church that emerge are not my ideals.
I want to dream with the indigenous voices of the land I am on, who were here long before people that looked like me arrived.
I want to dream with those experiencing poverty and houselessness, asking what church would look like outside of a comfortable, middle-class experience.
I want to dream alongside my neighbors, whether or not they even come to church or even call themselves Christian.
I want to dream about what church would look like if we honestly listen to all of these voices.
So yes, I want to dream. But that will mean realizing that true dreaming about the church and the gospel of God's love and justice in this world will often mean laying down my own dreams and listening to the dreams of others.
*It should be noted that my wife Rebecca is going to be the lead pastor of this new church we are dreaming of. She is an amazing woman and a gifted pastor and artist, and you can read more from her here! http://www.rebeccasumner.com/