The church recently released the “We Share” Document. The work outlines Community of Christ’s basic beliefs, values, and distinctives. It’s a portrait of who we are – and who we are challenged to become. What’s this church all about…“We Share”. Last year, I found myself in an impromptu conversation with a group of young adults in the community, none of whom were associated with any church.
At one point, they asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I’m a minister”. Much to my surprise, they responded by giving me a disapproving glance, lowing their heads, and walking away. On a whim, I quickly said: “I work for a church that’s trying to address issues of poverty, racism, and peacemaking”. They stopped and asked, “Are you serious?” When I said “yes”, they came back and we talked for several minutes, mostly about their interest in these critical topics.
At one point, a person asked, “Why is your church giving attention to these things?” I wish the “We Share” document has been created by then. It would have been an excellent answer to their question.
The still-new “We Share” document has been created to clearly state the identity, message, and beliefs of Community of Christ. It identifies the core values or “enduring principles” that shape the church’s priorities and that influence our behaviors as a faith community when we are at our very best. In all honesty, “We Share” was originally intended as an internal document to help the church align our resources, activities, and overall efforts with our highest purposes and deepest values. Once it was completed though, people began to see its value in informing individual discipleship as well as congregational life.
“We Share” was created by the Expanded World Church Leadership Council – made of leaders from multiple generation, cultures, and ethnicities – who spent two years in conversation and prayer developing it. President Veazey has testified that
As the document was completed, I was given a clear affirmation by the Spirit that it presents ample direction for the next chapters of our journey as a people of God. And, if enough members and congregations embody its principles, the church will move dramatically forward in fulfilling its mission.
So, please check it out: www.cofchrist.org/discernment/weshare
Then, stay tuned to coming editions of this newsletter where “We Share” and its “Enduring Principles” will be explored in greater detail.
~ Pres. Dave Schaal
Responses from Dave
First Presidency’s YA Question & Answers
In an address on April 5, 2009, the First Presidency asked young adults to share our questions and vision for Community of Christ. He also committed to spending time listening and dialoguing with us, visiting groups around the church. Here are a couple of of their responses to concerns you have submitted. Submit yours.
1. Why are we moving away from the Book of Mormon? If we ignore our past are we not some non-denominational Christian church like all of the others? What differentiates us from any other church?
While there is a great diversity of belief about the Book of Mormon, the church is not intending to “move away” from it. In fact, its status as scripture is stated in Affirmation #9 of the church’s official statement on scripture: http://www.cofchrist.org/ourfaith/scripture.asp People are encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, and to let its testimony of Christ touch their hearts and challenge their lives. I strongly recommend reading the interview with President Veazey in the July Herald in which he addresses a portion of this issue.
As for what differentiates us from others, I suggest that our distinctiveness needs to arise less from “an effort to be different”, and more from an effort to be faithful to what God is calling Community of Christ to be. The “We Share” document referred to earlier in this newsletter, is an attempt to express the unique identity, message, mission, and beliefs of the church.
In “We Share” a person will find familiar “distinctive” beliefs of the church, but most importantly will find them in a document that speaks about the mission of the church. We claim our unique heritage and beliefs without reservation, and likewise recognize God’s movement in other churches. Our identity however, is ultimately known and made meaningful by our engagement in mission.
2. I’m concerned that my congregation doesn’t offer much for young adults and especially young adult families. The small congregation just doesn’t have the energy or willingness to make that “extra” ministry available. I don’t want to make the effort and take the time to go to a congregation without anything for us. What is the church doing to help with this?
Although the World Church is making ministry with young adults a priority in its planning, neither the World Church nor Mission Centers are usually able to fund/staff young adult ministries in congregations. The church can—in some situations at least—provide training for congregations who want to become a meaningful home for young adults. Of course, some congregations are simply (and sadly) not open to transition. In these cases, it’s critical for young adults to find a support network of peers in the church somewhere. Some mission centers provide for young adult study groups, fellowship groups, etc. If your mission center does not have one, you
might volunteer to get one going. Or you might want to start a more local group with young families from your work, neighborhood, etc., many of whom are grappling with the same issues. The important thing here is to have good support in doing so. Sometimes that support is found in the congregation , sometimes in the mission center.
Finally, a frequent concern voiced by young families is the lack of good, user-friendly Christian ed. material for children. We are very pleased that preparing new, high-quality material for all ages is currently underway and—in the future—will be very helpful for congregations who desire to minister with young families.