We need to get better at proclaiming. In a media-saturated age that prizes the over-sharing of personal trivia, we sometimes forget that we have the greatest story of all to share. It’s called the Good News. And it’s not “all about me.” It’s “all about us.”
So, when it comes to ministry, let’s push communication about “us” higher on the priority list. For inspiration, we need look no further than our own liturgical calendar.
It’s interesting but not surprising that two of the three evangelists mentioned by the presiding bishop in her sermon at the opening Eucharist of this General Convention were journalists. Washington Gladden and Jacob Riis were not routine reporters, mind you. They were passionate, driven seekers of the truth. And at the turn of the last century they knew how to communicate that truth.
Their inclusion on the Church’s liturgical calendar reminds us of the kind of passionate communication that can build community and right social wrongs. As a leader in the Social Gospel movement, Gladden used the pages of the New York Independent to “realize the Kingdom of God in this world.”
He supported labor unions and opposed segregation. As a social reformer in the corrupt, Tammany Hall era of New York City politics, Riis fought for the rights of the city’s impoverished tenement dwellers. For part of his career, he worked as a police reporter, while also blazing new paths in photojournalism.
Gladden and Riis used words to capture their passion in telling the story of “us” – how poverty and racial discrimination were tearing apart the fabric of community; how fairer wages and open hearts could help realize the Kingdom “in this world.”
To follow their example, we don’t need to apply for jobs as muckraking journalists. But we do need to focus our communication skills in ways that help us share our faith. And we need to begin with this convention.
Forget for a moment all the frustrations and concerns you might be lugging around from the past three days. Focus on your short list of positive moments and inspiring decisions – your spiritual highs. And then start asking yourself: How am I going to communicate this good news in the days after Indianapolis?
Avoid church lingo. Stop referring to proposals as A, B, C or D resolutions. Don’t call the national headquarters of our Church “815.” And then ask yourself: What has moved me during my time here? What has strengthened my faith? What has contributed to “the Kingdom of God in this world”? And how will I communicate and share those thoughts with others?
The decisions made here will carry little weight unless they are communicated with clarity and passion to the rest of our Church and to the broader community. If this convention becomes an irrelevancy to the people in the pews, we will not have invested our time and resources wisely.
So what would Washington Gladden and Jacob Riis say about this General Convention? What proposals and investments would they applaud with passion? How would they proclaim the “Good News”? Halfway through our convention, those are critical questions.