On being counter-cultural

Rowan Williams describes the impact of a healthy church.



Rowan Williams describes the impact of a healthy church.


When churches are thriving, what you have ideally is a community with strong mutual commitment, strong commitment to the well-being of its whole environment. There’s that wonderful line in the prophet Jeremiah, “Seek the good of the city where you are sent.” You have also a community which – again, ideally – has a degree of detachment, the right kind of detachment. That is, these are people who know that they don’t have to succeed in order to be valuable, they don’t have to be feverishly active, feverishly competitive. There’s something into which they can relax – they know that they are valued, that they have meaning, that their lives are anchored in something.

And that does spread, that does have an impact. It creates both a deep motivation for transforming activity, but also a kind of pool of stillness in the middle of things. Here are people who do not have to pretend that they’ve always got to be mastering their environment and ticking the boxes and satisfying mysterious others who are judging them. So a good working church is a model of a kind of humanity that’s not consumed with anxiety, anger, resentment, fear, competitive violence, and so forth. That has to be good news.