In 1997, I became a member of Metamora (Illinois) Mennonite Church. As part of the membership service, the pastor asked me if I was “willing to give and receive counsel in the congregation.” Standing next to Melissa, my wife, we each answered, “I am.”
I still remember that moment. I also remember feeling I was the only person in the room who didn’t really comprehend the question. Everyone else seemed to roll with it like they knew exactly what the pastor was asking: smiling, nodding, affirming our answers.
Since then, I’ve asked that same question to those I have baptized, received into membership and credentialed.
I still wonder if people really comprehend the question. Do they truly know what they are getting themselves into when they say, “I am”?
The language of giving and receiving counsel is as strange as it is beautiful. I didn’t fully understand what it meant, but I knew I wanted to be in a church full of people who gave and received counsel. I knew by faith what I would learn over time through experience, that this way of doing faith is about more than just me and Jesus or where I go when I die. It is about more than showing up to worship, serving on committees and giving the “three Ts” (time, talent, treasure). It is about trusting this community of people enough to listen to them, share my perspectives and make decisions together. And it is nearly impossible.
[To read the full version of this post on MC USA’s Menno Snapshots blog, click here]
Michael Danner is associate executive director for church vitality and engagement for Mennonite Church USA.