Holiness in our Midst: Session 70

Holiness in our Midst


What is your vision for the church? It’s a question that denominations, congregations, and individuals are wrestling with in this Age of Incivility.

The question was inspired by a wall hanging in the office of my optometrist, Dr. Kristian Dugger, on Main Street in Nevada, IA. The framed sign reads: VISION: The art of seeing what is invisible to the eye. My answer, addressing a vision for my local congregation, is informed by my current read, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz.

The author’s suburban upbringing had not prepared him for the cultural diversity that he would find in the city. He writes: “Philadelphia provided a free master class in beautiful, messy diversity…I found myself to be a new, tiny, irregular piece shoved awkwardly in a massive mosaic of need and affluence, of diverse dialects and unfamiliar spices, of street vendors and corner prostitutes, of young families and elderly beggars—and I found every second of it thrilling, if not regularly terrifying.” He wrote that it laid “the foundation for the kind of pastor I would one day become, an all-people pastor.”

Building on Pavlovitz’s awakenings, I vision for my church to construct a bigger table, based on his four “legs,”: radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity, and agenda-free community. I picture my church, First Christian Church in Ames, IA, hosting frequent interfaith services; developing ongoing small groups with persons of differing races, faith traditions, and sexual orientations; putting on dinners hosted by persons from other cultures; and delving deeper into the study of other religions and traditions. And that is just the beginning…for us becoming known for radical diversity that is visible to the eye.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Fill in the blank: What is your vision for your (denomination) or (congregation)?


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Create a word portrait of what is happening in your ideal denomination, congregation, or Sunday School class.


  1.   Read aloud Session LXX.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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