In a recent interview on The Daily podcast, I heard Stacey Abrams say that she based her plan for Georgia on church community building. I was in love. Building community and supporting one another is what I love about church and what I hope for in this country.
Here’s Stacey: “And I actually studied those theological texts to think about, OK, how do you grow a church?…The first piece for me was thinking about what do we stand for.”
Such a great question: What Do We Stand For?
Once we know what we stand for, we can focus in on action that matters.
Jesus’ message spread across the world, growing the Christian church, because what Jesus stood for mattered. But if there was a single way for God to reach every single person, understanding scripture would be easy. Reader, it is not. The gospels read differently because each disciple was sent to a group of people who needed to hear Jesus’ message from a slightly different perspective. Each community had a different history, but they also had something in common. In other words, they came from different pasts, but stood for the same thing: a love in the message Jesus brought to us from God.
When God sent the disciples out, he bestowed upon them the Holy Spirit and the gift of language. But speaking the same language was not enough. The disciples knew they needed to enter into the community and get to know the people. Only then could they tailor their message to be heard and understood.
This is exactly what Abrams and her huge team of people did in Georgia. They focused on the issues the people of Georgia stood for and then traveled the state, meeting people and having one-on-one conversations.
The model Abrams took from church building worked, not because it is holy, but because it is true. People need conversation and understanding. We need to get to know one another. We need to learn about the struggles our neighbors face so that we can better work together to find a solution that works for both them and us.
I’ve been frustrated with the church lately because it feels as if leaders aren’t listening to their people, but today I felt a little bit of hope. Georgia and Abrams reminded me that the model of caring for individuals to care for the greater good still works. I am in love.