“Most messes can get cleaned up where trust is present.” The closing of last week’s piece gave us that ultimate sticking point. Trust is one of the chief casualties of the erosion we are experiencing in our common life.
This week, David Lose noted the sermon Martin Luther King, Jr. preached four days before his death. In “Remaining Awake Through the Great Revolution,” King preached that among differences we may experience, mutual vulnerability and humanity unites us more deeply:
We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
Building trust means facing this truth of God’s creative intention for us as the first item on any church agenda (because if we experience this together, the messiness of congregational ministry, social justice, proclaiming love and hope can become welcome and accessible).
Trust means that failure or uncertainty – the kind that comes from well-intentioned attempts at something new – are embraced and not weaponized.
It’s a stark, but ultimately nurturing truth, that we will not experience trust in a ministry setting as simply the sum total of “good programs (or good business or good practices…) done well.” Messiness is a constant companion in 21st century ministry. Focusing on the messiness misses the opportunity to trust what God is doing now. Every church, every ministry, every board and committee meeting would do well to have nurturing trust as first on the agenda, at the expense of all other “urgent matters.” Trust is at the heart of the way God’s universe is made. Focusing on anything else misses the point.