LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If someone was to ride the train in London, England, he or she would hear a polite voice over the speaker system stating “Mind the gap.” That voice, Vera White told those at the Aug. 2 morning worship service at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Big Tent, is “reminding you not to trip between platform and train.”
“We live in a world that is full of gaps,” said White, associate for 1,001 New Worshiping Communities in the PCUSA’s Office of Evangelism and Church Growth. “Some say our society defines itself by its gaps – red states or blue states, Republicans or Democrats, rich or poor, urban or small town, gun toters or gun haters, college grads or high school dropouts, Pepsi or Coke, gay or straight, right to life or free choice – and the church is not exempt.”
White said that the church had its own fair share of gaps, including interpretations of Scripture, styles of worship and gaps in understanding what matters. “Gaps abound,” she said, warning that “there is danger in the gaps.”
“In a society fractured by differences, Jesus stands for unity,” White said. “We are well-meaning church people and eager to obey so we beg, ‘Can’t we all get along?’ We have discussion groups, peacemaking projects and if we put on our best manners and smiliest faces, those pesky gaps will go away. But, try as we might the gaps widen and threaten to pull us under.”
She said that it’s human instinct to look for someone to blame – someone from the other side of the gap.
But God does not leave the gaps to chance, she said, but instead “God supplies the gifts that are needed for unity. It requires all hands on deck – apostles, evangelists, prophets, preachers, teachers – the whole round of giftedness that God provides. Only God can cover a gap that is this wide.”
White then described the initiative passed by the 2012 General Assembly to start 1,001 new worshiping communities in the next decade. “These new worshiping communities are popping up all over the place,” she said, including coffee shops, in tattoo parlors, restaurants, breweries and living rooms.
She described it as “living and working among people who have never felt comfortable in church … The Holy Spirit is up to something.”
“At a time of change and insecurity, I’m delighted to be a part of the one thing that has the power to bridge gaps and can unify our denomination among a common purpose – making disciples,” she said.
“So what about you? Are you stuck in the gap or are you jumping on that train that is soaring into a new future? God alone provides the gifts need to move forward in a unity of spirit.”