The church is meant to be a community where each person can find safe space to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, without making it unsafe for others in the process. Each of us need time, space, and permission to be who we are at each moment. We need to be allowed to feel our feelings and think our thoughts, and even have a place to engage in conversation about these things. The role of church leadership is to help equip people for the journey of faith, not to make the journey for them or even to lay out every stop along the way. The only limit is that in your journey you cannot demean, abuse or oppress others as they make their journey. Together we learn how to pack for the journey, learning to consider what is needed, and what is just extra baggage and dead weight – but the ultimate choice of what to bring is up to each person. We describe the journey as we and others have made it, so some things will be familiar along the way. We tell them where the “port keys” are, so they know that no matter where they end up, getting back can be a short trip. And we travel, some on one road, others on another.
The different paths often parallel, then diverge, and later intersect. One has a tough climb, while another is on an easy descent. Some are resting in the valley, while others are taking glory in the summit for a moment. Sometimes a particular spot is simply a rest stop along someone’s way. We give them food and water and a place to rest. We listen to their story, and share some of ours. Then we wish them well as they travel on. We certainly do not begrudge their departure, nor think it signals our failure, any more than their arrival signaled our success. The journey is theirs to make. Success or failure of any given venture will not be known until the journey’s end, when all things are weighed by the one who is Way, Truth and Life – in whom we journey, in whom we trust, in whom we live.