Monday, February 12, 2007

The offensive that was not offensive

Hey, I promised I would write more about LaDonna Whitmer, and the conference. So here goes.
LaDonna rocks and was not offensive to me, but she was to some others. What an amazing woman she is. Here she comes from San Fran, California to speak to Pastors in Alabama. She was honest, real, and personal. She did take us to task for our lack of genuiness, authenticity, acceptance. She started by showing us a cinepoem called Sunday Misfit. I was truly touched and cried. She then talked about her experience in the church, which has been quite painful from age 4 on up. She has tried church in her adult life, but even that became painful. If you recall Willow Creek had a service reaching out to the post moderns, called Axis. She was going to that service, but even Willow Creek had trouble accepting and loving the post moderns. The Axis that is now is not the one she went to. (here is one article on the demise of Axis. Here is one at Jesus creed and this is Dan Kimball's take on it.)She has not attended church in 6 years. She had not stopped believing in God, but did not go to church. She and her husband has found a church called Revolution led by Jay Baker. If you get the Sundance Channel you can watch him in a show called One Punk Under God.Yep the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. She also showed us vidoes of friends she had taped that didn't go to church either, and what they had to say about church. Lots of pain there of how they had been treated. I hope she saves those videos, they were powerful. She then took questions and answers from us about what she had said. Things went okay until one of our Pastors wanted to take her on about some things she said, and kept pushing her. She actually handled it better than I would have. I would have reacted, but she didn't. I talked to her briefly before the presentation about her website and blog. And then I spoke to her husband afterward.

All I can say is God forgive me for any way I have played in not being accepting, loving, showing the gospel to your children. God forgive us who say we are believers, followers, disciples for our judgementalism and abuse of those who don't seem to fit our idea of who belongs to the kingdom of God. God help me as your Pastor lead this church that I now Pastor to lead them to be accepting and loving and showing your gospel to those who they have not before. Thank you for LaDonna and her friends who willing shared with us their pain, their needs, and their selves with us. May we have the courage they had to do likewise.


the reverend mommy said...

I've had coffee with Jay Bakker and didn't know who he was. He hangs out at Emory village on occasion. He actually a very interesting person. Lots of tats, though.

John Wesley said...

Dear and Gentle Reader,
I would like to invite you to visit my humbly journal, as I start my tenure upon this continent. I have been elucidated by your musings and wish to make your most courteous acquaintance whist in the Americas.
I am most curious about the manner in which clergy conduct themselves in the colonies, as I am a newly arrived pastor and do not wish to offend the faithful and the savages. So prithee hense to my journal and let us hold each other accountable in our mutual love of Christ.
I remain God' humble servant,
John Wesley

mompriest said...

I live very close to Willowcreek church. Have never been there, but know lots of folks who have. As an almost 50 year old I wonder, despite how creative I yearn to be, if I am able to really get the whole youth church need...and how we can strive to meet them where they are. I certainly have the desire, but I am not sure I have the insight, creativity, and ability...but neither do I want to just do church in the same old way, since that way is so quickly becoming "meaningless" to the young people in our world (like my kids...). Thanks for pointing me to some of these sites.

revabi said...

Hey reverend mommy, maybe we need to invite him to Florence, AL

Deb said...

Yknow - it is about listening. A lot. We had 5 young women in our family room tonight for Bible study. (None of the guys showed... interesting dynamic!) Their raw pain is just overwhelming... children of abuse, divorce, failed relationships, downsized from jobs... They didn't want us to "fix" it. They wanted us to know how "bad" they were and to see if we still loved them.

I was struck once again by the power of listening in the "conversation" with people that God makes us a part of... and when we do not listen, we only convey disapproval...

I am not doing so hot at this most of the time, but every now and then, like tonight, I get it at least part of it right...


Sally said...

I think Deb said it all- but I agree listening is an under-rated gift we can give- sometimes the fact that we have listened is ministry in itself- no response needed.

Peace and blessings

Jane said...

I was at the Saturday conference, as a layperson, and I wasn't offended, either. I was challenged. I also sort of grimly smiled at the notion that these folks seem to be looking for that which does not exist: the perfect, perfectly loving church. In any case, there are many areas where we, the mainstream church, can improve. I liked LaDonna a great deal and work with a couple of folks who attend church where she spoke Sunday. They too, were challenged, and not offended. Maybe you heard some people who were offended on Saturday. I personally did not.

I didn't think the pastor really pushed LaDonna that hard. I think what he was asking her was where the line is--we don't want to judge these folks, but neither are we freed to sin "that grace may abound." In any case, I was standing next to LaDonna when that pastor spoke with her after the presentation. He was able to clarify a little of what he said, and they seemed to understand each other. There was no animosity or hard feelings, which was good to see.

In any case, I'm glad Rev. S. was able to convince LaDonna and Bruce to come and speak to us. We needed to hear everything she said, and everything her friends said. It is my hope they will attend the Revolution Church and find acceptance and love there.

Brother Marty said...

As a mere lurker to these events, it is uplifting to see the comments all are making. Thanks, Abi, for starting this line of conversation.

I visited LaDonna's website and was sticken by her perspective. Don't quite know what to make of it, but if she is representational of most youth and 20'ish folks...perhaps her words carry some impact. Makes ya wanna say..."hmmmmm".

Again, thanks for the post. Cause to pause.