Over the past several weeks, I’ve found myself reflecting on Richard Rohr’s notion of “The Edge of Inside.” Being on the edge of inside means being connected to an established system but not being beholden to it or reliant upon it. Sometimes, being too far on the inside of a system means being ideological, insulated, in an echo chamber. Similarly, in many cases abandoning the inside altogether risks losing prophetic influence, critique, and building sustainable change (of course, to be sure, sometimes we need to outright abandon some of the systems or organizations we’re connected to). Those on the edge of inside are frequently in the role of the prophet who listens, learns, and takes their cues from the margins in order to critique, criticize, expose, and affect change among the “insiders.” The Christian faith includes a long line of prophets, including Jesus, who found themselves in the tension of this dynamic and remained faithful, often at great cost to themselves.
Many of us are at multiple “edges of inside” of various systems and organizations in our lives – even family and friendship systems. But in this moment, I encourage you – pastor, lay leader, all followers of Jesus – to think specifically about how you can most faithfully be on the edge of inside of your congregation or ministry context. How would you describe your unique position on that “edge?” How can you facilitate the dismantling of walls between the inside and outside? What do you see, hear, and know from the outside margins that needs to be named and advocated for on the inside? What would de-centering look like so that the voices of the margins are fully heard? How can you leverage your role, position, and relationships on behalf of those who are “outside?” How will you steward this gift God has given you? What is the risk? What is the cost? And what is the Holy Spirit calling you to do?