Confidence in virtually all American institutions continues to decline, a phenomenon augmented by rising rates of loneliness, isolation, economic and geographic clustering, and cultural tribalism. For the church to be a prophetic witness in this milieu is to be a space of radical and unconditional belonging where real trust across difference is insisted upon, instilled, and nurtured. Our hope is that the world can look upon followers of Jesus and say, “look how they trust one another, belong to one another, love one another, despite all the differences and division that the world assumes cannot be resolved!” But what sort of faith formation will this require? How will we promote such radical humility, patience, forbearance, and faithfulness? We hope you find this conversation about trust-building in the church and it’s vital role for proclaiming good news for our communities informative and life-giving.
I was the Facilitator for the first New York City cohort, and at the time, I was working in theological education on Christian leadership formation, so it seemed like a natural fit. What I discovered, though, was something quite different from my “day job.” While the content and topics of the curriculum was a crucial part of our gatherings, it was the community of mutual care and support that made the content relevant, not the other way around. And second, having three years of strong bonding created an extraordinarily resilient community that, in turn, was able to build up resilience in our leaders. I think every member of my cohort went through significant seasons of both joy and heartache, professionally and vocationally, during our time. And the cohort, in turn, lived out the exhortation of Romans 12:15, “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep,” with a depth and integrity that I have rarely experienced, and often doing both in the same gathering. It was a privilege and a blessing to me and my own faith and ministry to be their facilitator, and I am eternally grateful to the Ministry Collaborative for calling me to that work!”