Who speaks for “the Church”?

If you watch CNN or FOX or other cable news outlets, you likely would see a prominent Evangelical of the baptist variety (whether or not affiliated with a Baptist denomination or convention), most often a white man.

If you read a local newspaper, chances are pretty good it’s the pastor of the biggest church around, maybe mainline, likely evangelical and still most likely a white guy.

If you seek out a pastor for a local congregation, chances are that in at least 4 of 5 pastor’s offices you visit, you will be speaking to a man.  I’m not sure how many doors you’d need to knock on to find a person of color, let alone a woman of color.  Even in more progressive denominations.

It’s hard to imagine that 9 out of 10 times, those people who are interviewed or seek coverage accurately reflect the views of the whole church.  You see, Christians are no more monolithic in responses to the world around them than are any other demographic slice.  And the reality is that even within thinner slices, we cannot and should not be characterized as being just like every other person who identifies as liberal/progressive/conservative/evangelical.  Much less so when others place us into one of those boxes.

I really appreciated the gist of John Shuck’s post on this topic – if not its headline.  But really, that’s his whole point.  John doesn’t speak for me on every issue.  Nor does the Layman.   But I can find things that both have written with which I can agree (I know, that seems to defy logic, but it’s true).   And it sort of annoys me off that when a very small minority of loud people on either end of that spectrum get to pretend like they speak for all of us in the middle somewhere.

Even more annoying is the fact that people paint highly unflattering extremist portraits of the other, then proclaim that they are victims of that horrible others’ taking over of the whole church.  Really? When most of the votes in GA are slight majorities and even the ratification votes on divisive issues are split pretty close (when looking at tallies, not number of presbyteries), it’s hard to see one side as gaining an “upper hand”.

Here in my little part of PresbyLand, you’d be hard pressed to put together enough radical liberals to make sense of lighting a heretic’s pyre.  You’d be wasting perfectly good wood.  The idea of conservative churches here needing to join a non-geographic presbytery looks fairly foolish.  To be honest, the handful of churches that lean less conservative are the ones in need of support from congregations elsewhere.

So who speaks for a denomination that is not of one mind?  It would be nice if it were someone who acknowledges that fact as they speak… that while they represent one part of this great big family, there are many for whom they cannot speak but whom they love all the same. Why? Because we are all adopted siblings, and like most siblings, we don’t always see eye to eye.  Kudos to Dr. Paige McRight, my Presbytery Exec, for telling that story here.

And I’d give major bonus points to someone who just once acknowledged that they can’t and should speak as though they could fully represent those who aren’t of the same gender, economic status, ethnicity, location or orientation.  Because that would be some serious truth telling.

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2 thoughts on “Who speaks for “the Church”?

  1. Excellent post. It’s time for those who get air time to be honest and authentic about just whom they are speaking for. But that assumes the media outlet is willing to diversify it’s little boxes it puts “Christianity’ into. Yes, I’ve taken to putting air quotes about “Christianity.” 🙂

    Thanks for the Twitter follow!

    • Thanks, Tim. It would be nice to have some help from the media in that regard… but I know that’s a perfect world wish 🙂 Looking forward to hear more of what you have to say on Twitter and your blog.

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