Last week I said I heard from God from someone who forgot my first sermon at Highlands Church but heard the Ethos and suggested we say it every week. That was good advice that has outlasted a very forgettable message!
So how have I been hearing God at Highlands these last 91/2 years? The first way I’ll say I – and we, including the very early crew who helped get things going – heard God was by paying attention to when we thought some church leaders we knew well were not listening to God. In Latin this is called the Via Negativa. You learn the positive by way of the negative. And I offer that to all of you absolutely free of charge. 😉
Rachael McClair and I had been on staff together at another church in Denver, which has since disbanded for all the right reasons. We worked in an environment where the ends justified the means of the lead pastor. We saw a trail of carnage of people who got hurt when this particular pastor seemed to be hell-bent on massive numerical growth rather than caring for the health of the congregation.
I truly believe that has been a message from God for us. We have too many stories in our church of people who have been deeply wounded by churches that were supposed to be doing good. And to be fair, most churches are doing a LOT of good things in the world even if they are damaging people along the way.
From the beginning we had a version of our own Hippocratic oath that doctor’s take: “First, do no harm.” Because we are imperfect, I know for certain that Highlands Church has hurt people, even though that was never our intention. But the word from God that has pulled us forward has been the refrain, “How we do what we do is just as important as what we do.”
It was co-pastor Jenny Morgan coming on board about a year and half after we’d started that made this sentiment take form and shape through her brilliant idea of creating a Community Covenant. It has been our guide for all our leaders and for many of the peeps who call Highlands home.
Next week I’ll talk more about how I heard God by listening to the best gay drummer I know!
And by the way, it makes a good life motto and not just a church motto when you consider that “HOW we do what we do, is just as important as WHAT we do in life.” Have a good “How” today, not just a “What!”
Nothing but love,