Monday, May 01, 2006

outreach or inreach?

another bus... =)

Having just printed this out for someone who is the second person recently to read this on my kitchen door and find it helpful, and one of many who have read it and liked it, here is something I found on Leith's blog


"Is it Possible that you might be a Quaker and not know it?"

You might be a Quaker if…

You think listening is at least as important as talking. You think justice means more than just locking up criminals. You are more interested in being like Christ than in being like most Christians. You want to read the Bible but you don't want to be beaten with it. You think the contents of a person's heart is more important than the contents of their house. You are more worried about the Hell that people live in here and now than any Hell they might occupy after death. You think war makes more problems than it solves. You suspect than nobody was ever saved by a ritual. You think mandatory creeds and dogma fit like a strait-jacket. You think the best ministers are often found sitting in the pews. You think investing great leaders with great power is dangerous. You think equality is not so much a goal to be sought, but a fact that is often ignored. You think honesty is not just the best policy, but that it ought to be the only policy. You think that church business should not look like "business as usual". You think that good relationships are more important than good arguments.

At YF Camp there was a lengthy discussion going on late on the last night about Quaker outreach which I would have loved to have been part of having been on the British YFs Outreach Committee for 5 years but it didn't stand a chance against the conversation I was part of instead. However in the morning I was asked which did I think was the most important - conversion or retention ie finding new people or not losing those we have? My answer was both are equally important, and I'll add to that that letting those who are unsure of whether they are coming or going know that that they are welcome and wanted - but we're not going to push them in or out, they can take their time to decide what is right for them.

I'm not inclined towards evangelistic style conversion work (despite the name of my visa!) but believe strongly in letting people know that Quakers are alive and well, still here and still kicking (non-violently of course) out against the things that we believe are wrong, and standing up for those we believe are right. Oliver Kisaka challenged us at WGYF saying if we believe Quakerism is so good why don't we want our neighbour to be one too? For me that brings up both positive and negative reactions - I'm quite happy for my neighbour to have whatever beliefs they want and have no desire to go around converting them but I'd also like to think that my neighbours had some idea as to what a Quaker was, to know we are here and that they'd be welcome if they wanted to find out more.

When I was at YF Camp Daniel who was covering for me here got a visitor who was going up and down the street letting everyone know that there was to be a Marxist conference at the Tramping Club two doors away from us. The guy was a right wing extremist and was encouraging the neighbourhood to phone the police should they be disturbed by the event happening. Well with an introduction to local community events like that Daniel decided to go along to the conference, find out what they were about and show community support. He found himself in Meeting the next day feeling somewhat saddened though to find that no-one had been going round knocking on doors warning our neighbours that the Quakers were going to be meeting... maybe we do need to raise our community profile somewhat?

As for retaining those who do make it in the door I've got my work cut out for me here persuading some recalcitrant members that in order for people to want to stay within the Meeting community they need to be made welcome, encouraged to come back and that not letting them get a newsletter unless they come every week for 6 months and then only at the say so of overseers is not the best way to go about this.....


... said...

Greetings from Estonia!
God bless you!


Lovin' Life Liz said...

Just checking in to see if you are OK after the earthquake today...