Gospel of Found Space

Listen to our recent episode and take a look at what our guest had to say when asked “What did you wish you said in our interview but didn’t?”

(Production note, the question she references in her essay below is form the full-length unedited version of our interview)

[028] Gospel of Found Space ft. Pastor Emily Taylor Guerrilla Pastors

Pastor Emily Taylor helps us have a conversation about what the Gospel has to say about suffering. She shares her life journey, how the prosperity gospel broke for her and how it changed her engagement with the church. She also tells us about her ministry of found space and shares why she thinks it's such a significant ministry for our day and age.  — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/guerilla-pastors/message

From Emily Taylor:

The Church I Hope To Pass To My Kids

At the end of my interview on Guerilla pastors, Josiah asked me, “What kind of church do you want to leave for your kids?”

This is the question that keeps parents in the church up at night, isn’t it? When we’ve grown up in the church, been hurt by its people, seen how some of the systems we’re a part of can be harmful and oppressive and send people running from God instead of into the arms of the very One who loves them most, it almost seems dangerous to bring our own children up in the same place. To expect that our kids will still want to be part of church once they’re grown almost seems like an audacious hope. But I will dare to hope, because I have three kids who desperately need the body of Christ as it should be.

I hope to leave my kids the kind of church that welcomes questions. When I tell the story of my upbringing, I talk about how my parents modeled for me what it looks like to ask hard questions of your faith community. Their willingness to be open to how God was growing and stretching them made it safe for me to ask questions too. I learned that God was big enough to handle my questions, even if I didn’t always get the answers I was looking for. I also learned where I could have those conversations and who was safe to have them with. We have to live into our commitment to searching the scriptures together as a means of grace if we want to teach our kids how to ask good questions.

My kids need to have a church that models repentance and lament. A few years ago, I discovered prayer books. I was so struck by the prayer of confession that I probably spent six months incorporating it into my prayer life. If you’re not familiar with prayers of confession, this is the one I came across:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

“We have sinned.” We have. Not just personally and individually, but we as the body of Christ have sinned against God and our neighbors when we have not loved with our whole heart. Imagine a holiness people that prayed this prayer of confession on a regular basis. Imagine if we acknowledged our participation in systemic sin and how it harms the vulnerable people we are called to serve the most. This is the kind of transparent authenticity that our kids are longing to see and belong to.

I want my kids to know what it means to worship with their church family. I am not interested in the worship wars of the 90s, and neither are they. But we all have agreed that church worship services can’t take their cues from concert tours or Christian radio DJs. Rather, our corporate worship should be patterned after the rhythms of the church and have enough longevity to span generational gaps. A few years ago, we visited my grandparents in the nursing home and sang to them. Grandpa didn’t know who we were or where he was, but he could sing every word of his favorite hymns. I worry that my kids will inherit a church that no longer has a collective memory of worship music, which is something that has historically helped unite believers in ways that nothing else can. Of course that doesn’t mean we have to return to exclusively using hymns, just that we should carefully consider how short the shelf life is when we constantly chase the newest worship music. Choose songs that will outlast their radio play, and continue to use the ones that have proven worthy by the test of time. Someday when I’m struggling to remember who they are, I’d love for my kids to know which songs can break into my memory banks and allow us to connect in some small way.

If my kids remain in the church in their adulthood, it will have to be a church that truly looks like Jesus – a church that loves the least and the last. The next generation coming of age cares deeply about the marginalized, longs to be connected to something bigger than themselves, and questions established norms. Whatever the church looks like in fifty years, they will need space to serve Jesus in all of those characteristics.

I sat at a few different tables this week discussing all of these things at a gathering for young clergy. One thing that was said has not let me go, that my generation (older millennials/younger genX) will only have a voice in church leadership long enough to pass on the mic. Those who have raised us aren’t making space for us in leadership anytime soon, and by the time they do, it will be time for us to step aside. Our role is that of standing in the gap for those who are coming behind us. I pray we will steward that role as God has enabled us.

-Emily Taylor

Listen to Emily’s full interview by clicking one of the links below!

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