Thursday, January 27, 2005


I mentioned our small group event in my last post. During the event we had an interesting discussion on what it means for church to be a "safe space." Our congregation (prior to my family's arrival at the church) had an understanding of what that meant. We're now trying to work that concept with our new pastor.

One of the people in the group said that there were a couple of key aspects of safety (I'm paraphrasing):

  • The church should accept members and guests wherever they are on their journey of faith and recognize that people will always be in different places in terms of theology, worship, prayer, etc.;
  • The church should accept what a person can give in terms of their time, spirit and money realizing that lives are often complicated;
  • Members should be able to expect that confidences will be held, both by clergy and parishoners.

My approach was that as a member of the leadership team, I need to be able to feel that I'm accepted in spite of my failures as a leader. I have a very stressful job and I don't want church to become a place I feel guilty about attending because I'm struggling with my leadership duties.

It was interesting to me how differently we identified what it means to be safe in church. I certainly agree with the three points above, but they're not at the top of my list. I'm realizing what a challenge it is to create a space that is truly safe for people. We need to create a space for people to grow and succeed, but also cope with failure. We need to be prophetic voices for truth, but recognize the different spiritual roads we all follow. We need to provide comfort and compassion, but realize when people need to carry their burdens closely.

What does it mean for you for church to be safe? Should church be safe?



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