Conversations at coffee hour

A few years ago, I heard Ruppert Lovely speak. He was the long-time minister at the Countryside Unitarian Universalist church in Palatine, Illinois. He said that he believed the main task of a minister was to do theology with his/her congregation. Other tasks of ministers are incidental to doing theology. This seems to imply that the main purpose of the congregation is also to do theology.

At coffee hour here at our own church this morning, I found myself involved in a number of theological conversations. People here like to talk theology. My guess is that that’s why many or most people stay with this church — so they can talk about the ultimate nature of reality and the meaning of life, what happens after death, what the nature of humanity is, what people ought to do with our lives, whether there is a transcendant reality — all those great theological questions.

So how about this statement: every part of church life should be shaped by theological questions. Why can’t that be true, too? Which would mean that committees should figure out the thological grounding of their work. Finance people should understand the theological nature of their work. The Board should shape overall policy of the church based on theological considerations. I’d even argue that we already do this much of the time in Geneva — our founding covenant, which we still say each week in worship services, and which we read at the beginning of Board and Council meetings, frames our work together in theological terms.

Since we’re Unitarian Universalists, someone is bound to argue with me and assert that theology is not at the center of church life. Admittedly, I would be surprised if were entirely correct about this. Nonetheless, I’ll bet I’m not too far from the truth (whatever truth is).