by Tami Heim
There’s a tension in the body of Christ around words like confession, transparent, holiness, acceptance, grace, and forgiveness. Passions easily ignite when these words arise among believers. Core beliefs and life experience determine how each word ranks in the conversation and how deep that conversation will go. As we engage a needful world in increasingly public ways the question becomes even more imperative: Is transparency in the Church really possible?
It’s a topic we feel compelled to examine deeper. Last week, March 14-16, transparency dominated discussions in small meeting rooms at The Cove in Ashville, North Carolina. Ruth Graham, daughter of the Reverend Billy and Ruth Graham, personally invited pastors, academics, and other Christian communicators there for a 2-day intensive on the topic.
The desired outcome: to tackle the issue transparency in the Church, test its relevancy among diverse minds, identify the barriers to it, and align participants on its significance in reaching the lost. Ruth was in search of feedback and input that would influence, shape, and advance the development of her new initiative, Transparent Ministries.
Graham: the need for outrageous grace
In Ruth’s own words, “My vision is to collaboratively come alongside the Church to help it become a safe place for people (Christians and non Christians) to come just as they are, find a community in which to repent of sin without condemnation and be lead to the next step in their faith journey—basically, a place of outrageous grace and transparency. I believe as people see a transparent community of grace, being real about who we really are, others will see and be drawn into it—the next phase of evangelism.”
Her carefully researched guest list included leaders from different denominations across the country. The intentional diversity was all part of the plan as participants dissected the topic from early morning until late into the night. By the end of the 2-day intensive, new friendships and bonds were formed.
the eclectic Body of Christ
On the last day, everyone shared about their experience. Brian Zahnd, pastor and author confessed to everyone he had to send himself a text message as he sat between pastor Ted Haggard and Father Nick Mormando to assure himself he wasn’t dreaming. His conversation with both men was deeply relevant and exactly what he needed to hear. Brian read the text he sent himself to the group straight off his phone.
@stickyJesus was honored to participate and witness all that God was doing in and through this eclectic assembly of Christ followers. The conversation around transparency aligns powerfully with our hearts on this blog as we learn how to live out our faith online (and off).
We’ll be sharing some of the holy moments and conversations from the days at The Cove. We’d love to hear your thoughts as we dive into the complex topic of transparency.
It’s when we come to the end of ourselves that God ‘s glory shines brightest in us. #LiveSticky
What does transparency mean to you as a Christian? Do you see it in your own church?