I had never really thought too much about churches and DNA until later in my ministry as I listened to people talking about congregational identity as DNA. DNA is the genetic material that gives humans their hair, eyes, and skin color. It can be a conveyer of family diseases that get passed down from generation to generation. Like the BRCA gene that is a marker for breast and prostate cancer.
DNA is fundamental to identity, appearance, and even personality.
Churches have DNA too. Not deoxyribonucleic acid but just as powerful and influential. Church DNA starts to form in the early stages of a church. How was it formed and why was it formed? What community did it decide to form itself in? Who was invited to participate? What informed its belief system? All that is part of church DNA. And, like human DNA, church DNA does not change, except possibly in times of horrendous upheaval and crisis.
LifeSpring’s DNA began being formed as we made conscious decisions about what we thought was important for us to practice as a community of Christ.
- Like when we decided that we would not make tithing a public matter but would rather address it in Round Table meetings and such times when just LifeSpringers were present.
- Like when we gave LifeSpringers equal opportunity to participate in our Sunday worship. Using a set of guidelines, anyone was welcome to give the weekly Table Talk before the Lord’s Supper.
- Like when we made extra effort to welcome outsiders into our company. There was never any “we’re in and you’re out” kind of posture among LifeSpringers. I think this is in keeping with Jesus’ warm, inclusive welcome for those the rest of society rejected. Yes, Jesus has standards by which we should live, but he has never rejected anyone who desires Jesus’ company and ours.
- Like how we’ve made the Lord’s Prayer a model for our own prayers, including praying for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as in heaven.
- Like when we’ve scheduled, in the past, regular social gatherings for the purpose of helping LifeSpringers grow closer to each other. Failure to do this creates alienation and lost communication with each other.
We’ve had a few people come and go because they, apparently, did not agree with our DNA. That was a good decision on their respective part, because to ignore the disagreement creates awkwardness and descension.
However, it is good to revisit our DNA occasionally, if for no other reason than to make sure we are sticking with things we said were important. I think we would agree that we have lost our compass setting.