I want a church that has a (radical, prophetic) vision of the Kindom of God and is working to bring it forth on Earth.
I want a church that beloves me and that challenges me.
I want a church that is radically welcoming.
I want a church that proclaims its affirmation of GLBT persons. I want a church that welcomes and affirms all sorts of marginalized people -- poly, kinky, furry, immigrants, homeless, addicts, those who have been in prison, those who don't speak English, those with illnesses and disabilities both visible and invisible, those who do not fit the gender binary, persons of color, fat people.
I want a church that doesn't make dismissive comments about people with differing beliefs.
I want an ASL interpreter on standby. I want the physical space to be accessible to persons with physical handicaps. I've grown into the idea of optional nametags. I want greeters at the door. I want newcomers to be greeted and welcomed -- and to feel safe sitting in the back if that's what they want.
In this church, people will feel free to sit in the back as long as they want. And at the same time, people will reach out to newcomers, will get to know them, will help them to feel at home. When people stop attending, members will reach out to them.
No one will be pressured to participate in anything, but people's gifts and graces will be recognized and nurtured, and people will be invited and encouraged to share those gifts and graces in the service of the church.
It will be clear, both printed in the bulletin (or projected onto a screen) and articulated by the worship leader, what we are doing next at each point in the service.
I want people to be named when they receive Communion. I want an option to cross your hands over your chest and receive a blessing instead of partaking of the Elements. I want people to wholly abstain from the ritual if they so desire and to not feel uncomfortable doing so. I want wine and grape juice. I want vegans and persons with gluten intolerance to be able to partake of the Bread of Life.
I want our Communion liturgy to reflect and articulate (and embody) what we believe.
I want the Passing of the Peace to be a time when we encounter each other face to face, when we share peace with each other with personal contact (including, as people are comfortable, physical touch -- a hug, a handshake, a high-five) because we are Christ's body in the world.
If there is a Receiving Line after service, it will not be rushed through.
During Prayers of the People, congregants will lift up aloud and in the silence of their hearts all the joys and concerns they bring with them. People will make themselves vulnerable in their openness, knowing that this is a Safe Space. Some people will cry, and some people will comfort them with touch or a word or simply their strong presence in the seat next to them.
When the Offering is received, people will be encouraged to give generously and joyfully -- and it will also be explicitly acknowledged that money is but one of the many gifts and graces we bring with us, and that all are equally welcome and valued regardless of the gifts we have to share. (I also like the explicit articulation that first-timers need not put anything in the basket as their presence is gift enough.)
I want hymnals so that those of us who can read music but aren't so good at just following a tune played on an instrument can join in comfortably.
We will not sing songs in foreign languages just because we want to be diverse. We will sing songs from the cultures and traditions of those in our congregation.
I want the Fellowship meal after church to contain more than just desserts. I want vegan and gluten-free options. I want the food to be purchased with awareness of environmental concerns. I do not want congregants to talk about how they are trying to lose weight.
In my dream church, no one will have to miss part of the worship service to help prepare the Fellowship meal or anything else.
I want Bible study/book study. I want the church's theology to suffuse the life of the church -- in word and deed -- and I also want opportunities to dig more deeply in a more formal setting.
I want congregants who bring their passions and share them with the church. I want a church that not only supports those congregants in their work but also works with them.
I want a church that takes the liturgical year seriously.
I want a church that is aware of the calendar outside of the church -- National Coming Out Day, local festivals, etc.
I want a church that follows the lectionary, except when it doesn't, and which takes seriously our inherited Scriptures.
I want a church that preaches Good News, that knows the Church is called to speak a word distinct from what one might hear in a secular group of similarly minded people -- is called to proclaim the message of Christ.
I want sermons that inspire me and challenge me -- that are rooted in Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. I want a pastor and a congregation I can argue with and who will listen to me and take me seriously -- who will push back when I am resisting something they know to be True and who will receive me with grace and love, who will tell me when they are hurting and cannot listen to me in that moment. I want a church that teaches and encourages me to speak with love and grace and generosity and also with passion and prophetic wisdom.
I want a church that takes seriously Jesus' call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit and care for the sick and imprisoned. (Food drives? Prison ministry? Visiting the shut-in?) I want a church that takes seriously the call to give up everything we have and Follow.
I want a church that trains and strengthens its members to be Allies -- Allies to GLBT persons, Allies to people of color, Allies to people with mental health issues and physical disabilities, Allies to all who are suffering.
I want a church that takes language seriously.
I want a church that address the Triune God with a variety of names, pronouns, and metaphors. I do not want a church that tries to pronounce the Tetragrammaton.
I want a church where we don't say things are "lame" or "crazy," where we don't say "you guys," where we don't assume people's preferred pronouns.
I want a church that is attentive to the world outside its doors -- to its local community and to the global community.
I want a church that knows the other houses of worship in its neighborhood and which works together with them.
If this church has a denominational background, I want it to draw on the strengths of that tradition -- not at the expense of denigrating other traditions. I want ritual and liturgy that is thoughtful and organic to the congregation -- that acknowledges the pain and joys of human life and the True Fact that God is with us always.
I want a church that starts on time. And where people are welcome to come in late, even to come in at the very end and join us for Fellowship meal, and where people feel safe to leave early. Where children and pets and strangers and "enemies" are ALL welcome. No matter their dress, their history with church, their politics, their ease with social interaction, their education, their income, or anything else which sometimes makes people feel Other.