Take a lesson from Galileo - do not ask questions in church.
I'm working on some training for Alpha leaders in January, and reviewing a new piece of text that we're adding in all our Alpha promo. It says:
There is a place for spiritual explorers on a quest, looking for their true north. A reference point from which they can measure their own life experiences and opinions, where questions are treated as opportunities, not obstacles. It's an interactive place, where the curious are rewarded for their efforts and the weary are helped with their load. An informal atmosphere where life, faith and God can be questioned and experienced, where Christs' claims are investigated, His work is examined, and His presence is felt. It is Alpha, and it is waiting for you.
In explaining this phrase by phrase, I started pondering what it means for the curious to be rewarded in their efforts. Something that stuck with me in 9th grade science class came back to the forefront. Poor Galileo had the gumption to wonder "What if the universe didn't revolve around us? What if it turned around the sun?" The papacy declared him a heritic, physically forced him to recant, and put him in exile back in the 1630's.
In 1979 Pope John Paul II asked that the 1633 conviction be annulled. However, since teaching the Copernican theory had been banned in 1616, it was technically possible that a new trial could find Galileo guilty; thus it was suggested that the 1616 prohibition be reversed, and this happened in 1992. The pope concluded that while 17th-century theologians based their decision on the knowledge available to them at the time, they had wronged Galileo by not recognizing the difference between a question relating to scientific investigation and one falling into the realm of doctrine of the faith.
What if the church had embraced the Galileo’s questions of the universe? Where would we be if we had not squashed the brightest minds of their day for generations?
Leaders, the brightest minds in your church are the ones asking the pesky questions. Take a lesson.