Ok some roughly formulated thoughts not too ‘churched up’ as reuben would say:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately what it means for the Village to be accessible and inclusive even as we grow. For years, many Village parties or events included a church wide invite. Baby showers were often co-Ed and an opportunity to have everyone come together. Not everything was all inclusive, but many things were. Lately, it’s seems like the trend has been smaller groups of people celebrating together or doing life together and it’s caused some hurt feelings and sadness for the ones not included. As I was pondering, I realized that our church has entered a new stage. Not only have we separated into 2 different services, but with the addition of more people comes the feeling that there are too many people to invite them all. Yet, we are still small enough that news travels and people inevitably hear about what others are doing. This is tricky because we don’t WANT anyone to feel left out and we don’t WANT anyone to get hurt, but we also don’t ALWAYS have the capacity to invite EVERYONE to EVERYTHING.
So this leads us to a few different conclusions: either don’t invite anyone to anything, try to always invite everyone to everything, invite smaller groups, but try to keep it on the down low and hope people don’t get hurt, or invite within your capacity and be open to share it with people in normal conversation.
I guess I think the best option is to invite people within our capacity and don’t be worried about letting others know. If we try to be secretive about our plans and people find out anyway then it has the appearance of doing wrong simply because there was the attempt to hide and as a result people feel more hurt because it feels more intentional. But if we are open about our plans and someone happens to not be on the guest list then the person planning the event has the opportunity to explain their guest list and the person not invited has the opportunity to choose their reaction.
Now explanations might not always be perfect and reactions won’t always be perfect: welcome to community. However, if we could strive toward something I would hope that we could strive for explanations that are authentic and reactions that give the benefit of the doubt. I think we have greater chance of people being authentic if reactions rooted in choosing to see the best in people.
I’m not saying that we can control when our feelings are hurt but tying our experience to hurt feelings is something we can control. What I mean is letting the knowledge of a small group of people doing something without you spark you to plan an event of your own large or small instead of letting a hurt feeling shut you down or make you feel insignificant.
This is all very easy to talk about in theory and much harder in reality with the messiness of our sin and feelings and intentions and oversights. I’m not trying to solve people or situations but I have had the feeling of being on the outside of many groups of people throughout the years and I tried to come back to this perspective and strive for grace and understanding that people are people and usually they aren’t out to get you.