One thing that I learned to do early on as a parent is to ask my children for forgiveness when a mistake was made in my part. I was sharing this perspective with my congregation in a seminar and at the conclusion, a member took exception to it. He said that if parents apologized to kids, the kids would lose respect for them. I shared my personal experience, but it didn’t change his mind.
Last week, the Record Keeper Project was suspended. The reasons given were varied, but details were scarce. The response from the “creatives” in the church was clear: This was a painful episode. Both conservative and progressive websites questioned the decision, albeit for different reasons. These are my personal reflections and lessons, as a church leader, about this particular experience:
1. An apology would have great.
This is a key leadership lesson. At the other end of every decision, there are real people, with real feelings and real investments (emotional or otherwise). The ANN bulletin could have included at least a paragraph about the people making the decisions understanding the impact of their decision on the people who participated in the creation of the project. I believe that is still possible. Apologizing sends a better message.
2. An alternative production would be great.
I have not seen all of the 11 episodes, but it would seem to me (not being an expert, for sure) that the project can be edited, revised and improved, or outsourced, all better options than just cancelation. If there are some inaccuracies and theological misfires, FIX THEM. No one wants to present lies as truth. Was the project to deeply flawed it could not be rescued?
What I did see gave me hope for 2 reasons:
a. The effect it had on my kids. This project had visuals and a story line that interests and starts conversations with the younger generation. I was looking forward to showing the series for family worship with my own family.
b. I have a passion to reach Millenials (both of my kids are). I had conversations with a colleague who is planting a church in Portland Oregon for postmodern/postchristian which this project was tailored made for. He was planning to use this extensively. I hope he still can.
3. A graceful response by Young Adults would be great.
My prayer is that this experience does not become yet another reason to disconnect, disengage or depart from the church. When the church makes a mistake, treat her with the same grace God treats you. Rise above the hurt. Please hear me on this:
We. Need. You.
We. Want. You.
We. Love. You.