Since we launched the preliminary website in late October, a lot has happened. One thing that hasn’t happened is blog posts. Between setting up our new office on Blanding Street (an ongoing project), doubling the size of our staff (probably the only time we will ever be able to say that), inviting/begging people to be on our launch team, celebrating Christmas, trying to figure out how to use Google Apps, church-hopping every Sunday, transitioning our web-hosting (I still don’t know what an FTP server does), playing with my young son, and trying to make up for lost time with my wife, writing hasn’t been a priority.
Today, on a call with Suzanne, the other half of our staff, I was reminded that writing is part of my job and that I should be doing it more frequently. To be honest, I’ve missed it. But, the problem hasn’t been altogether one of finding the time. The more stubborn issue for me is determining the audience. This unanswered, but at least acknowledged, question waits for me at each turn in this new journey. After 4 1/2 years of ministry in a setting where the audience was gift-wrapped and my biggest mistakes were a result of overestimating my ability to convince them they were something else, I suppose my hesitation to get on with answering that stubborn question is justified. But even while I may be justified in treading lightly, which is a gentle way of stating the obvious - I’m scared to death of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person and ruining our one chance to establish a church in downtown Columbia - almost every decision we make in these early days necessitates a response, right now.
Flannery O’Connor, who I love to quote but I’m not sure I’ve ever read, artfully sums up my dilemma:
“The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock -- to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures."
So what will it be? Will we assume that “[our] audience holds the same beliefs”? Or will we determine that our vision must be made “apparent by shock”? As I write and as we labor with God in the capital city, this is the question we seek to answer.