A Participatory Faith Community by Barry Cammer

A Participatory Faith Community

From Barry Cammer

It’s been absolutely wonderful to see so many of our newest members step up and become a participant in the life of our faith community called Arlington Community Church. For decades, most protestant and catholic churches have been “performance” venues where the pastor and a few extremely dedicated members put on a show, a worship service for the audience to witness and absorb. Over the last few years, we have been taking very small steps to be a little less performance and a little more participatory. We’ve stopped using the big pulpit and lectern and brought worship leadership level with worshippers. We’re using more lay-readers. Our liturgy has become more responsive, with lots of places for the worshippers to speak. We’ve even been engaging the congregation in dialogue sermons and conversations about issues of faith and life.

I love our pastor Tony. He’s a good pastor, a wonderful preacher, an excellent organizer. But our worship and church life should never become “The Tony Clark Show”. I don’t want this, and I know that Tony doesn’t want this. I want to belong to a community of faith where worship and church life is something we all do, in which we all participate according to our abilities and gifts. What abilities and gifts do you bring to our community of faith? I want to belong to a community of faith where everybody does something that nurtures our lives together. Truly, in a church our size (or any size) there isn’t much wiggle room for many to say, “If I don’t do it, someone else will.”.

RECRUITING. Just last week, I wrote a very short email to Tony. I said, “I hate recruiting!”. After working for almost 45 years in human services and ministry, I’m tapped out. I no longer have the energy to make calls asking(or pleading with) people to participate. But I am tasked with recruiting for folk to participate in Sunday worship, special services, and other events. So here’s what I’m going to do. Even though I’ll still send a few email messages out, I’m going to send everyone a “Volunteer Request”. Please complete this form and return it to the church office, or put it in the offering plate, or somehow get it to me so that I may call upon you to assist in worship.

To those of you who already participate a great deal in the life of our faith community and especially to those of you who do a lot more than I do, I send you gratitude and I hope to send you assistance in the near future.