Part of our goal at Live Oak is to become more accessible to all people. This can take physical forms, such as our elevator, and it can also take the form of being more mindful about communicating, especially about the “norms” in our community.
As a society, we are becoming aware that what may seem clear to one person, is not at all clear to another. Differences in culture, in neurodivergence, and simply how we were raised, all impact our expectations.
My colleague and friend, Rev. Brian Ferguson, has said that especially in churches, “Unexpressed expectations are premeditated resentment.” Whew, there’s some truth in that! I’m working on being more direct and clear, and articulating, sometimes step by step, any wishes, boundaries, or expectations I have.
The Healthy Community Team likes this direction, and we’ll be considering things in the church to see how to communicate without making assumptions that other people all think the same way. We want to make the implicit, explicit.
(Are there unspoken rules you think are at work in our community? Let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org.)
One physical change I’ve already written about is the addition of a new pulpit which we will use most Sundays. The height can be changed at the press of a button, so that children, people who use wheelchairs, and anyone short or tall can better be seen (or see their own worship script.) If you have a child or youth who is comfortable with public speaking, please let me know!
Being able to hear clearly is so important to the worship experience, so I’ll be working with worship leaders on some speech skills, and our sound team will be experimenting with the sound system. (And … if you’re noticing difficulty in other parts of your life, most of you know I’m a big proponent of getting tested for a hearing aid, as it can make a tremendous difference in your enjoyment of life! Feel free to talk to me about that.)
We will never be perfectly accessible to all – we are limited by language, by time and space, and by many other factors. But we are trying to be clear and inclusive in all the ways that we can, and to move out of the comfort of assumption and into the healthy discomfort of questioning.