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Recently, I traveled to a small church in the Midwest to facilitate a difficult conversation. This particular church had some issues they were trying to work through, and my role was to listen and keep the conversation productive, honest, authentic, and moving forward. When I asked them what they could promise each other in the conversation to establish guidelines for our conversation. They offered wonderful suggestions like “be kind,” “be honest,” “be respectful,” and at some point I added, “Be Church.”

Later, as I was writing up the report from our conversation, I reflected on what it means to “Be Church” together. It means truly engaging with each other, even when it’s difficult and viewpoints do not align. It means holding fast to the truth that we are all members of the body of Christ and remembering we have different skills, talents, world views, and lived experiences.

Being church together means we don’t always agree, and yet, it also means following Jesus in our communities; we do this in order to make a more just, kind, loving world. It is to pause and listen for the still, small voice of God, looking for the movement of the Holy Spirit, and following God’s lead together.

Because I am a collaborative leader and I believe the voices of my friends and colleagues help shine a light on truths I cannot see, I asked my friend Rev. Elizabeth Brinegar what “being church” means to her. She said, “I believe that being Christ-like, which is how we are supposed to be as the Body of Christ, means loving God and loving others.  And it isn’t truly love unless your actions back it up.”

So, how will you back up the words you speak, fellow followers of Christ? What can you do today in your faith community to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God?

What hard truths do you need to discuss in order to be a healthier community? What local, regional, national, and global systemic injustices do you need to call out and address? Because, as Rev. Brinegar said, as Christians, we are called to put our love into action.

Whatever route you choose, God knows we need to show each other more love, compassion, and kindness each and every day. We cannot wait for someone else to do what needs to be done. Let’s go out and boldly Be the Church we need in the world. And let’s start today.