My son, Tyler, was sharing with me about an experience he had visiting a friend out west. He described the environment his friend lives in. He painted me a picture of the physical, relational and social space she shares with her neighbors. On the Sunday he was there, someone decided they should all have breakfast together. Some were cooking. Others were helping get things ready. A few pulled out their instruments and started playing music. “It was like a scene out of a movie,” he said.
Tyler is home this week. Last night we were revisiting that story. He said, “Dad, that is community. They all know they are part of something special and they want their group of friends to get as big as possible.” I said, “That sounds like a good church to me.” A natural pause came from our daydreaming and then the conversation went another direction.
Our discussion resurrected a question that I had buried in a box in my head a while back. Why is this type of organic activity rare or nonexistent in so many established churches?
- Is it because we try to organize – promote – control things that don’t really need to be organized, promoted and controlled?
- Are we side tracked by the childcare questions? Are kids welcome? Should we hire some teenagers to watch them?
- Have we forgotten how easy it is?
- Do we over-think community, the gospel, and real life to the point that we talk ourselves out of it before we pick up the phone?
Those of you who know me know I’m not a structure guy. The church I started both grew and was eventually hindered by my aversion to and lack of structure. And no matter how many times someone tells me how important structure is, I will innately push back on it.
If I remember correctly, Jesus compared life in the Spirit to a very unstructured reality: the wind. He said, “You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone “born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” The religious leader that Jesus was talking to, Nicodemus wasn’t comfortable with this metaphor and I don’t think we are either.
What might happen if we stopped fighting the Wind? We try to control it, attempt to direct where it should blow and spend our energy trying to quantify & count the number of people we think are being moved by it.
Instead…what might happen if we focused on living in response to the Wind, learning to be propelled by it like a sailboat and lifted by it like a kite?
I think maybe we would find ourselves eating with, singing with and enjoying each other.
Can we pass a sign-up sheet around on that?