“Repentance on the other hand would involve having a change of mind about patronizing behaviour,” according to Dr Duncan Forbes (https://duncanf.blogspot.com/).
Duncan was one of my favourite speakers at the Keswick Convention (week 2) this past summer. He gave so many insights as to why some of us feel we don’t fit in, in our local church. I loved the fact that he sounded like an uneducated tough guy from the projects (that’s Estates for British), AND has a Phd in Theology! Now we’re talking.
I had a chance to chat with Duncan on the first morning of his talk, concerning the subtle ways in which even a church with a great Welcome Team sends almost subliminal messages to a self-selected stream of society that they “aren’t actually THAT welcome in this church.” Unless, of course, said Dr Duncan, “they are willing to become like us.”
In our discussion I mentioned the challenge of being truly allowed to fit in as an American in a British Church. “Tell me about it,” Duncan smiled. “My wife is American. I get it.”
It still amazes me that jokes about America or Americans -ridicule that would never be considered politically correct to name other countries- are totally acceptable from the pulpit. And in case you think this is a one way street, I find it just as distressing to hear mocking of nations from American pulpits. When are we going to make jokes about ourselves with great high humour, but pray for the foibles of other nations? None of us is perfect, but it would be great if we could show a little repentance for the way we’ve all given subtle and not so subtle messages to the strangers in our midst that they/ we are not truly welcome in church. Sometimes it’s tough enough to worship in a strange land, without being blindsided with ridicule.
Dr Duncan Forbes suggests we take a serious look at repentance, instead of coming up with new strategies for inclusion.
In the meantime, I am praying for everyone relocating this September as you start new work, settle into new homes, and find new places of worship.