What do you do when you come into contact with combative or competing narratives?  What do you do when you come across competing stories, each vying for loyalty and adherents?  Each claims to be true.  Each claims to be reality.  One does not allow for the existence of the other.

What do you do?

In my 7+ years in Lake Worth, I’ve run into a few competing narratives.  Several years ago I had heard something disturbing.  I was told that some in city leadership characterized the area my church is located in as the “slums of Lake Worth.”  Needless to say, I was upset.   These were my people!  These were the salt of the earth, good-hearted, hard-working, God-fearing people!

A week or two later I had lunch with some of the city leadership.  One of the guys made the comment.  He called my area the “slums of Lake Worth.”  He did this after telling me of the number of condemned houses in the area.  It turns out that there are quite a few homes that just don’t past muster.

Ok, so my area is the poorer portion of Lake Worth.  I gave him that much.  Yes, there are quite a few houses that are in poor repair.  Yes, there are quite a few yards that are cluttered with trash.  I understand where he was coming from. But I had to say, “You can stop referring to my area as the slums.  These are my people.  They are good people.  They deserve better. ”

I never heard him refer to the area as the “slums of Lake Worth” again.  He hasn’t work for the city for some time now.

As I think about it, what we needed was leadership that believed in us.  We needed a different narrative from our city leadership.  We needed something to aspire to, not to wallow in.

What is our competing narrative within the church?  We have some churches that are mission minded.  We have some churches that are missional.  We have some churches that are outposts of evangelism.  We have some that are glocal. We have some that are seeker sensitive.  We have some that traditional, some that are contemporary, some that are progressive, and some that are emergent.

Someone remind me what our narrative is supposed to be about.  Is there one overarching narrative that binds us all together?  I think so.

What do you think?

Tim

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