I’m back in press row. As the work of the called General Conference continues in St. Louis, I’m trying to think when was the last time I sat in press row for an event.
Was it a race in Pocono in 2001? Was it a college wrestling event? Was it … who knows?
It’s been great to be back working with the media. My work has been to assist the work of the Kentucky Annual Conference and its Communications Team.
But, as we have continued through our work sharing about General Conference to our conferences, subscribers, and other interested people I’ve been struck by the amount of noise in the press room.
Part of this is because we are utilizing a mostly empty NFL stadium for General Conference. An empty stadium creates an echo that is hard to miss. Conversations can be heard, maybe not always clearly, from rows away because the sound bounces off the empty rows and walls. At times, it can be hard to distinguish between what is taking place on the floor and the conversations going on around us.
There is a lot of noise in the air.
I cannot help but think how that is indicative of where we are as a body as we enter the final two days of the called session. There is a lot of noise as we seek to discern where God is leading us as a church.
Noise from people who assume they know exactly what will happen come Tuesday night.
Noise from people who are adamant that their desires are the only way forward for the church to remain a witness of God’s redeeming and gracious love.
Noise from people who are not fully engaged in what is taking place, but want to offer their opinions on what must happen nonetheless.
The thing about noise is that it makes it hard to distinguish what needs to be heard and what can be ignored. It is there to distract and keep you from the mission that God has put before you. It overwhelms and hinders the church from being the church.
We have all contributed to the noise that fills the air of the church. We add to the noise through our words, our actions, and our deeds that we often believe our noble, just, and necessary for the body of Christ to be the body of Christ. The question that we must consider is are we willing to lessen our participation in the noise, so that we may hear the voice of God speaking to us?
Jesus says his sheep will hear his voice. Within that truth, though, there has to be a desire to want to hear Jesus speaking to us.
So, if we are going to lessen our participation in the noise so that we can hear Jesus’ voice we have to be willing not to hear our own voice. This is where we realize that being the church is hard, because we all want to be heard more than anything else. Our primary focus must always be to let Jesus’ voice to be heard and then follow where God leads us.
Now, don’t get me wrong every one has a value, worth, and needs to be heard. Every person is of sacred worth and within that their voice must be heard and appreciated. However, that basic human need comes within the greater and more important need to hear Jesus’ voice speaking and leading us.
Why is that important? Because I may be wrong.
We don’t always want to recognize that. However, if we are going to limit the noise within the church we have to admit we may be wrong about our views, agendas, and understandings of what it means to be the church today.
Conservatives may be wrong. Progressives may be wrong. Moderates may be wrong. We may all be wrong.
Are we willing to admit that? Because if we can then maybe, just maybe, the noise will lessen and we will be able to hear the voice of Jesus leading us to be the church that “makes disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”