Rainbows painted, Care for neighbours, food bank distributing, too many volunteers, council support hubs, NHS clapping, other people giving 2m distance, business giving away freebies, homemade PPE..
and the fury of good people when leaders acted hypocritically..(the Cummings story that cut through..)
Tell you something.
Its going to be difficult for churches to ignore the goodness and kindness of the fellow humans in the community from now. Call its the Blitz spirit, or the Corona spirit for 2020.
Nothing worse for esteemed leaders, unaware of human endeavour, than people being good, people showing their actual true colours.
How many friends have you gained since lockdown? How many neighbours have you spoken to? How many strangers are less strangers than before?
There was no breakdown of society. There was no looting or riots, there was a better reaction to lockdown than aloof leaders expected.
People underneath were good. It wasn’t a veneer.
What if this is what we have learned in the crisis? That people are good?
There is a question around the future of the church at the moment, there has been a question about the future of the church for as long as there are people wondering about the future of the church. But, I wonder, if there are things that have been reflected on in the midst of this profound time, this collective human experience, it is that the awakening of the goodness of people.
And as I said in my previous blog, this isn’t new. Its more that it surprises us because we gave up on that idea because its too naive. Or that we give too much credence to those who promote negative news about humanity in our lives, the media. For every 1 profile man who broke his own rules, there’s 15,000 rainbows in the windows. But they arent news any more. Its the norm.
Why did we stop believing in it? Maybe as a church we hid away. Inside houses and buildings. For too much of the time. Ask a community worker what they learned in their first year is that ‘people surprised them’ because they didn’t expect them to serve, to give, to be generous. Yeah. When we’re in the midst of people, when we have contact with them, we’re surprised that they’re good. they are better than we expected. Closer contact revealed behaviour. Not expected because often a negative view is rife for funding, ministry and so that people can maintain a saviour complex by pre narrating negativity human views.
So, in the future of the church – what if its a place to realise that people are already and inherently good?
How might the goodness project, revealed during the collective crisis continue?
What might the church do to be for the good, to be more fully human, to promote human dignity?
And , if churches are places where the good is recovered, and this is closer to the core of our Human nature, then this becomes a personal and collective redeeming act.
There are already places of human goodness. Of course there are, and churches are already facilitators and empowers of this. From the list above, and so much more.
But if we believed that people are good first, and wanting to be good, then how might this be part of the new world. How might this experience be maintained. And its not the media view, the distrustful politics, the ‘glad its all over and we can go to macdonalds’ view of this.
At the end of Rutger Bregmans bestselling book Humankind (2020), he says the following.
Kindness is catching. And its so contagious that even infects people who merely see it from afar (2020, p396)
For so long shame has filled the corridors of the church. A view of humanity plagued by things like Sin and evil and corruption. When most of this is already in the church, less outside. Maybe its time to love the world as Jesus said in John 3:17.
Believing in the world. Believing in Humanity, after all, Jesus was one once.
Might a question that shapes the future of the church be the following?
If the coronavirus revealed human kindness (like every tragedy does) – How might wee believe this to be really what Humans are all about?
What might it be for church in the future to promote and celebrate the human dignity, courage, goodness and kindness that has been revealed?
Maybe the first thing is host a local gallery of every single rainbow that’s been drawn in the local community. Communities are already full of hope.
The poorest communities have as many rainbow banners. Ive cycled past them. Nothing less good whether you have money.
Something that united people might be worth keeping.
If churches counter prevailing narratives about humanity, then theyre more truer to the view of humanity that God might have.
And if we’re just not sure… then maybe if we hope for the best and act as if its the best, then people will be and act better, because they are believed in. Including challenging the negative voices that don’t.
How might churches respond to the challenges presented by coronavirus? its a valid thing- what if revelling in the human goodness that’s been revealed. Harness the spirit of human kindness that’s overflowed, naturally.
Yeah, human kindness that has been natural.
Love is winning.
‘We love others, we love ourselves, we love our enemies, because he first loved us’ (Paulo Coelho)
Rutger Bregman 2020, Humankind, Bloomsbury – which honestly its a must must read. 6 million people have bought it already in a week.
Paulo Coelho, 1993, The supreme Gift