In my last post I started with the concept from Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why, which argues that if you want people to respond to what you are doing you have to have a clear concept of why you are doing it.
If you recall, he also said that if you want to find your Why, one of the best ways to do it is to look back over your life and see what themes and tendencies keep surfacing. That will give you insight into Who you are which will give you clues into Why you are.
Last post I also went through a quick search of my life as an example to figure out my Who and Why.
But what about 2nd Street? People each have a Who and a Why, and so do groups, organizations and churches.
Let’s look back at 2nd Street and see if we can figure anything out.
I wasn’t around when 2nd Street was birthed, but my understanding is that 2nd Street was launched by Newberg Friends to be a bridge to those for whom Church might be an uncomfortable experience, or those who might make lifelong churchgoers uncomfortable.
In those days 2nd Street attracted people who had been hurt or marginalized by their previous churches, people who had broken marriages and broken lives, People for whom Church didn’t feel safe. We met in a building that didn’t look like a church, recovery was part of our landscape, and smoke breaks were a Sunday morning routine.
I guess we were edgy, by the standards 30 years ago, but being edgy wasn’t the point. In fact, just the opposite was true. The point was to be a safe place for those for whom traditional church was too far over their edge.
2nd Street came into being to be a bridge between the two extremes of the social and religious spectrum in Newberg. 2nd Street was common ground between those who saw church as the nurturing mother who raised them, and those who saw church as an angry bully that kept punching them in the face.
2nd Street didn’t argue with either side, it simply stood as common ground where the two could meet each other, little by little get used to each other, and eventually see the humanity, and the grace of God, in each other.
Even today, through the drop-in Center, 2nd Street is acting as common ground where the churches and greater Newberg community, can rub elbows with those who are often forgotten or ignored by the church and community, so the two groups can get used to each other, and hopefully begin the see the humanity and the grace of God in each other.
So, what do we make of this heritage?
2nd Street has always been a bridge. 2nd Street has always seen itself as a safe place of common ground between those who, at first glance, don’t seem to fit together or who have a suspicion of each other.
Could that be our Why?
You can talk to 10 different groups and probably get a dozen opinions on what the greatest problem or issue the world is facing today is. But I think if you look closely, the common denominator in all the issues is a lack of listening, a lack of recognizing the humanity in each other, and a lack of humility. Both sides of most issues or debates are convinced they are right, and the other side has nothing of value to say to them.
In far too many cases, the church is just as divided as the rest of the world.
We live in a world where people are shouting their opinions and their own “truth” at the top of their lungs and it is so loud no one can hear anyone else. Unfortunately, large segments of the Church, on both sides of most issues, are in there shouting right along with everyone else.
The world doesn’t need another church who shouts at the top of it’s lungs. The world doesn’t need another church who separates itself from those who think differently or see life differently.
The noise is deafening so nobody is listening.
The world desperately needs the Church to lead them out of this angry, belligerent, deaf and blind hole we find ourselves in. I think Jesus would say it’s our job.
Richard Rohr says, “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.”
The world desperately needs a bridge. The world desperately needs a place where the decibel level has been cranked down. The world desperately needs a place that stands as common ground where the differing views can meet each other, little by little get used to each other, and eventually see the humanity, and the grace of God, in each other.
I think it is in 2nd Street’s DNA to do just that. I think that may be our Why.