Here's the scripture I was thinking about in Church today, even though it had nothing to do with the topics being discussed:
Isaiah 54:2: Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy ;
Perhaps you have always considered that scripture to be about the geographic reach of the Church. That is certainly how I interpreted it as a missionary in a far-flung area with few church members. To me it has signified that the "tent" of the church increases in size as more physical areas have missionaries/churches/temples. In my mission area there are still cities without missionaries - this is one way that the church "tent" has the potential to increase in size.
But as I thought about it today, the scripture can have another meaning that hadn't occurred to me before today. It was partially inspired by reading this blog post on the Exponent blog. As the author of the post mentions, many members (including me) find it sad when someone leaves the Church. I feel a lot of sympathy with the author - I don't know all her specific reasons for leaving the church, but I am sure it was a wrenching choice, as she describes.
Yet as I pondered on this author's words, I realized that one reason I was sad was that I feel like the Church will miss the richness of her experience. It's a selfish sadness, but one that I feel whenever I learn someone has left the Church. Even if I'm not in their ward or stake, the Church as a whole will miss out on their insights, wisdom, and experience.
I wonder if part of "enlarging our church tent" is making room for many different kinds of belief and non-belief. For example, is there a place in the church for those who don't believe the events in the Book of Mormon literally took place on the American continent? How about those who struggle with an all-male church leadership? Or our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who feel like they have to choose between two parts of themselves? I do hope that the tent of gospel love can encompass them all.