Here are a few thoughts that begin to sum up life at Journey. It’s hardly comprehensive, but rather offers a sense of who we seek to be.
We value collaboration and the wisdom of the community
We value collaboration and the wisdom of the community. This plays out in several ways. We have a leadership team that meets monthly to set vision and priorities and to make sure things are functioning. We have fairly regular community conversations where we make decisions about our community together. A lot of times these conversations are extensions of the leadership meetings—leadership makes the suggestion but the community discusses and decides.
The more exciting way the wisdom of the community plays out, though, is in worship. Most weeks, instead of having a strict sermon time, we’ll have a discussion. So someone (usually the pastor, though it can be anyone) will have some prepared ideas to get us started—but then the whole community jumps in to talk and further develop things. And there’s no room for humility here. We’re pretty good at discussing.
Almost every week, we encounter something new that is so true and important. So we get a much fuller shape to whatever it is we’re talking about than we would if just one person were responsible for the whole thing. It’s such a beautiful way to do community.
We do our best not to act like jerks
We do our best not to act like jerks. Pretty much everyone has been part of a community where people have devolved into jerks. Where people bring their baggage—and instead of asking the community to help them deal with it—they hide the baggage, pretend it isn’t there, but then they bring it out and crash it down on other people’s heads.
No one likes that. So we do our best to not act like jerks. Your baggage is welcome. We’ll do our best to walk with one another as we each deal with our baggage. But there’s no room for crashing it down on other people’s heads. So to that end, we do our best not to act like jerks.
We ask difficult questions of our faith and our world
We ask difficult questions of our faith and our world. We long for understanding. We engage our faith through critical thinking. We ask difficult questions. And we trust that God can rise to the challenge.
So when we’re at Journey, no question is off limits—at least none that we’ve encountered! From ‘who is God?,’ to ‘Was Mary really a virgin?,’ to ‘Why have we not yet succeeded in dismantling the patriarchy?’ We ask difficult questions of our faith and our world.
But even more than that. When we ask these questions, no one is standing by with pat answers or required beliefs or worse—shame. Any one question might elicit ten different answers. Or maybe just a bunch of nodding heads because everyone has the same question.
We’re comfortable with doubt. We’re comfortable with mystery. We’re comfortable with differing perspectives. Or maybe, rather, we’re uncomfortable, but we stick with it all the same.
We’ve found that asking the difficult questions might not be the easiest path. But it is a path where we discover grace. And it is a path where we can walk as our fully human selves—gritty and messy but also honest and all the more loving. So we persist, asking difficult questions of our faith and our world.
We strive to be inclusive
We strive to be inclusive—regardless of identity or belief. This is tricky, because every community falls short of the ideal at some point.
But we see these examples of Jesus reaching out to outcasts, including them in his life and ministry. He even ate with Judas while Judas was in the middle of betraying him. Jesus was committed to inclusivity. And we understand what it is to feel the part of the outcast. We’ve all played that role too. So knowing what it is to be the outcast, and striving to follow Jesus who includes the outcast, well, we figure it’s important for us to be inclusive too.
So who you are, no matter how you identify, none of it is a disqualifier. Anyone can be a full member of the community, serving in leadership, presiding at communion, all of it; it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from or who you voted for or who you love.
We feel the same about belief. We don’t have any sort of belief statement or creed that one has to sign or confess. If we can gather and love God and one another and go into the world determined to do the same, then that matters more than prescribed doctrine.
And this goes back to asking difficult questions. We might arrive at different answers. But as long as we don’t act like jerks doing so, well that’s ok. We’ll value each other regardless.
Journey as a Way of Life
And all of this we take with us into our whole lives. We value our neighbors all the more because of the work we do here. We question the racism and injustice we see around us and in us because we are learning that critical engagement can make a difference.
We deal with our baggage in trusted community so that we aren’t going around wounding people. At least for the most part. Everyone has bad days. And nobody’s perfect.
And when we see our neighbors, even the ones who look and live and believe in ways that we do not understand,we affirm them and welcome them because that’s what we see Jesus do. And because we know that we need such a welcome and affirmation ourselves.