by Jonah Davis
Q: Where does your passion for mission planting and outreach to people on the margins come from?
A: It comes from deep within the soul, in the depths of the corners harboring previous pains and sufferings. There, in the cover of protective walls and failed attempts to be seen, resides the driving force to overcoming systems of oppression. There in those very corners are the roots of my passion for divine comfort and divine love. I envision this love through ministry with those on the edges of society and the edges of the Church.
I have a passion for new forms of ministry with people who have long been pushed out or dismissed by our traditional approaches to church life. Some of us do not find comfort in the shine of stained-glass windows and two-century old stone construction. Rather, there is ministry bubbling in the local coffee shop, at the edges of artist studios, and in athletic gyms across our region. Many who count themselves among these groupings have been hurt or stigmatized in ways that no longer provide sanctuary and healing from religious engagement.
Yet I feel called to these places. On the margins exists a way to be Church and to partake of Christ’s love with one another that gives hope to many. I have found a passion stirring deep within that says it is time to be Church in the world. No, I’m not saying do away with tradition. I am, however, saying we can find space for new vision, new ways of imagining our Lutheran traditions, to live out our faith and walk this journey with people in our communities. We have the opportunity to join hands in ministry with so many communities. People beyond our Church walls are doing ministry each day, in ways we might not even think of doing.
We are called to be the body of Christ together. That means all of us, together, especially in our differences. Some of the beauty of Creation is shown in the variations of humankind. It’s not just how we appear but also our interests and hobbies, the ways in which we do ministry and engage with God. The Holy Spirit spins and turns in unique and magnificent ways, calling us into community to share our gifts, passions, joys, differences, all of ourselves. Each person deserves to be truly seen – to be understood and appreciated in a way the reflects Christ’s love to them in that moment.
So find the place where your gifts and the pain or suffering of others collides. Dig deep into your soul and see what God has placed on your heart. Look for deep relationships, engage with one another in ways that are authentic, and offer space for new voices to be heard and empowered. The body of Christ is full of the spiritual gifts of each person; may we join together to use our hearts, minds, and souls to find new ways to be church. Whether it’s in the coffee shop, the music hall, the bike trail, or innumerable other places, let’s be Church together.
Jonah Davis (he/him/his) is a recent MDiv graduate of United Lutheran Seminary. Jonah has strong interests in congregational renewal and new mission development. As a queer transgender individual Jonah is aware of, and has experienced, some of the unique challenges the LGBTQIA+ community face in church life. He hopes to accompany others on pathways of deep listening, relationship building, and Christ-focused engagement.