Are Good Intentions A Measure of a Church’s Greatness?
If good intentions in equality were measured, Churches would fly high. The underlying ethos informing our life together is one of equality shaped by the good news of Jesus – abundant life for all! At least, this is our aspiration. There is currently more intentional work on equality, inclusion and representation across all levels of our Church life than before, but one’s location in and experience of Church, and an awareness of how inequality works, will determine one’s answer to this question.
We do have processes to ensure fairness and equality of opportunity. we like to think of our churches as places of welcome, accessibility and fair treatment as places of welcome; but what about those who are not because they feel excluded – those who feel the rules, ethos and way of doing most things still favour a specific group of people and a certain way of being church?
Equality that goes beyond good intention is challenging: It demands we relinquish privileges, whether we are aware of them or not. It is always work in progress, given the variety of people we are, with our complex identities. who would have thought, for instance, that a Church committed to the ministry of the whole people of God can end up with an all-white male top table or a situation where some of its key decision-making bodies lack any minority presence? some may say this does not necessarily mean that there is no equality of opportunity; if minorities are not forthcoming it does not mean that there is no equality.But perhaps we need to ask why minorities are not eager to participate, why social arrangements in church often go unexamined, and whether the way we conduct our business encourages the participation of all and creates space for others.
Is the playing field level? Do we find ourselves, consciously or unconsciously gate keeping? If we do not ask these questions, the Church can end up spiritualising its existence and failing to examine structural and systemic factors that prevent greater equality in our life together. We end up with brilliant aspirations and little change in our practice. Greater equality is possible when we bridge the disconnect between the message of Jesus and our walking the way of Jesus and when we are willing to be enriched by each other through mutual inconveniencing. We are all in need. Every time someone else joins us around the table, we need to reconsider and change the way we are. we are the Church that gives.
Whatever your intentions you need to Glorify the Lord by your actions and words! so go do whatsoever you wish done unto you and you will be fine.