The 75% Rule - celebrating diversity

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. Romans 12:3-5

Dear Church,

Each of us tend to like our coffee the way we like it…. decaf or regular, black or sugar or no sugar or with cream…. but in the past few years there are a gazillion ways we can have our cof-fee… from Salted Caramel Frappuccino and on and on. We want it our way and not just when it comes to coffee. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, describes being the church as one body with many members. One community with many individuals. And, not all the individuals are the same. They have different talents and tastes. They have different needs and knowledge. They come from different biases and backgrounds. But, despite everything that makes people different, they are one community. One family. Being the Church is not just about you, it’s not just about me, being Church is about “we”. Being Church is about all of us. Being Church is about living together as a community, as a family.

When we are together as church it isn’t possible for us to always have it our way. Some-times what we want is in direct opposition to what another wants or needs. Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) once told a story of being miserable during what he thought was a less than adequate worship service… “I remember so keenly one of the times I learned how individually the Spirit can work,” Rogers said. “It was years ago, and Joanne [the concert pianist who married Rogers in 1952] and I were worshipping in a little church with friends of ours, another husband and wife. We were on vacation, and I was in the middle of my homiletics course at the time.”

“During the sermon I kept ticking off every mistake I thought the preacher — he must have been 80 years old — was making,” he continued. “When this interminable sermon finally ended, I turned to my friend, intending to say something critical about the sermon. I stopped myself when I saw the tears running down her face.” “She whispered to me, ‘He said exactly what I needed to hear.’ That was a seminal experience for me,” Rogers remembered. “I was judging and she was needing, and the Holy Spirit responded to need, not to judgment.”

When we come to a church or community potluck supper or go out to a Sunday Brunch Buffet we usually don’t like everything offered. I take what I like and usually take note of what others are daring to try. There are things I pass by in the grocery store and wonder, “Does anyone ever buy this?” We pick what is nourishing to us and we leave the rest for others. In the same way, in worship services, we should take what is helpful and leave what is not. It is no surprise, that everybody will not like everything about a worship service. On any given Sun-day, we probably do not like something. Maybe, that hymn was not our favorite. Maybe you don’t like organ music. Maybe, the sermon did not speak to you. The list could go on. And on. And on. We should remember, being Church is not just about you, it’s not just about me, being Church is about “we”. Being Church is about all of us.

Have you ever heard of the 75% Rule? The 75% Rule states that when we gather together to worship on Sundays, everyone should be happy no more than 75% of the time. Yes, only 75% of the church service, should be what we like. Now, that sounds like a strange rule, right? But, the reasoning is that if we are happy more than 75% of the time, that means that the preferences of only one or a few are being dominantly fulfilled. In order to accommodate a diverse congregation, there needs to be something in the service for everyone. There needs to be something for the older folks, something for the youth and children, and even something for the newcomers and visitors. Being Church is about ministering to everyone. We are individuals. We are not going to always like the same things. Or even believe the same things. Let us take what is helpful and nourishing to us, and leave on the table what is not. Remembering that it’s our 25%. Let us remember that while something may not be reaching you, it may be ministering to your friend in the next pew.

Abundant Blessings, Tomi

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The Federated Church
of Orleans

162 Main Street, PO Box 761,

East Orleans, MA, 02643

Office Hours : 9-4 (Mon-Fri)

Telephone : ​(508) 255-3060


Building God’s World
with Justice and Compassion
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