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Anti-Excellence: From Son LJ4’s Pastor

March 20, 2022

Robert English is the pastor of the Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church in Cincinnati where our son is an active member. Rev. English wrote this not long ago, and it’s with his gracious permission that I share it with you here —

You know one of the most provocative things I have ever said before at a church gathering: “we are anti-excellence and pro-particiaption.” I stole that from a church called House For All Sinners and Saints. I loved it so much that I use it occasionally to describe the kind of community I want to be part of and to be a pastor to. I use it to encourage people to sing even if they think they suck, to offer their experience, strength and hope even if they ‘don’t know anything about the bible,’ to share their prayers and themselves in community.

I have had more people email, call or pull me aside to ask me what exactly I meant by that.

Excellence is the enemy of participation.  Excellence says that we only can or should offer our best to God and community.  Excellence is actually about supremacy and abelism.   Excellence in liturgy is like trying to make sure our spiritual community is instagram worthy.  Most of the time we talk about excellence in the church we are actually talking about hierarchy, patriarchy and power. 

Jesus always talks about participation, engagement, vulnerability, and grace.  Just read Luke 6:17-26.  It’s full of anti-excellence, it’s full of grace, and it all takes place on level plain.

There are no words to express how grateful I am that he is our son’s pastor.

If you know, you know.

And I think you know.

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