The other day I was getting out of my car and I was thinking about pot luck dinners. Not quite sure why (I've never actually pondered pot luck dinners before) but follow me here.
Pot luck dinners are a fascinating concept, a wonderful American invention.
You know how they work, but for effect, let's say you have a pot luck dinner sponsored by the PTA of an elementrary school. Everyone brings a side dish or dessert or some sort, while the PTA board members bring the meat and drinks. In the end, everyone is happy.
If, for some reason, people decided to show up to that PTA pot luck hungry, but no one actually bothered to bring a side dish there would be a lot of cranky people that night for dinner.
And then it hit me: The Church should be a pot luck dinner.
When everyone contributes we all benefit. When everyone participates and plays their role within their specific area/responsibility in the community, it functions like it is supposed to. But when we show up simply to get our fill without being willing to bring something to share with the community, its frustrating.
It's that whole using your spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ thing...
If church is a pot luck, I wondered, then what side dish or dessert am I bringing to the faith community?
There is a big difference between renting an apartment and owning your own place, the big one being the upkeep on the place. Ever notice how fast new apartment complexes get run down and start looking ugly? It is, of course, because the renters don't own the place. As a tenant, after you make a huge dent in the drywall in the living room its easy to think: who cares? It's not mine anyway. Oh well.
But as a homeowner who has put huge dents in my living room wall before I immediately think, Dang. What am I going to do to fix this thing. Right now.
The difference, of course, is ownership. When you own something, you care about it. A lot. You've made the (financial) sacrifice, you're proud of what you have and you want to make sure that sacrifice is worth it so you do the things that now matter as a homeowner: making the yard look good is important, painting walls becomes a weekend project and making the place looks nice is something you think about. And rightfully so...it's yours.
The question I have been processing through is: "How do we give people ownership of resonate?" Because if we're all willing to make the sacrifice, to be committed, that means that when we make spiritual dents in the wall we don't shurg our shoulders, we jump in and want to deal with it, even if it isn't fun. When things don't match our preferences we just don't bolt out the back door for the next flashy, cool thing that will satisfy me for the next season of life. When we don't like how something is done (or not done) we don't complain and become critical; instead, we step up and volunteer to be a part of solving the issue.
Recently I read a Sept/Oct 2000 Harvard Business Review article on leadership called "Getting the Attention You Need" by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck. In it, the authors state:
"People want to feel engaged, so help htem make that happen. If you can get people to invest something of their own, they're going to be more committed than if they feel like observers...Co-creaton pulls people in."
Co-creation pulls people in. Community - healthy community - is about ownership. In my own words, servanthood is sticky. A read a study a while ago that showed that if people aren't serving they will leave a church within 12 months. But the study also showed that if people serve, on average they stay for more than five years! They're owners, not renters.
And the question I have for you is: "With resonate, are you renting or do you own?"
This summer I've had a lot of questions directed my way with this whole resonate thing starting up soon. Questions are a good thing. I'm loving the dialogue and the interaction with others. It's great. I'm glad to answer these questions, for sure. The questions people ask will reveal the values they hold.
Some of the frequently asked questions I've been asked this summer about resonate are ones such as:
"Will there be childcare?"
"How will this affect ABF's?"
"What makes resonate distinct from the main service at Calvary?"
"Why Sunday night as opposed to other times in the week?"
"What will the worship style be?"
"Will we be using video and multi-media expressions?"
"What will be the physical arrangement and set-up of the room?"
"Will there be small groups?"
Again, all good questions. I'd be wondering the same things, too.
But for the first time in the entire process, someone asked a better question. About a month ago a young woman who looked to be in her early 30's caught me in the Atrium at church and introduced herself to me, saying that she used to attend Calvary but now lives in Ohio with her husband and they were just in town visiting for the weekend. She leaned in closer, lowered her voice and with a look that was as serious as a heart attack said,
"Tell me: is resonate going to be proactive and intentional about reaching the lost and unchurched in this region?"
I nodded. She smiled and said, "That is so good to hear. Thanks." And she walked off.
It was so encouraging, this little 90 second conversation. It still rolls around in my brain with great regularity. Asking the above questions are necessary and just be thought through, of couse. But it made me wonder, what if I was being bombarded with externally-focused questions more than internally-oriented ones? What if that young woman wasn't the only one to ask a question like that? What if there were many more asking things like that? What if I was asked questions on a frequent basis such as,
"Will resonate allow us to serve our community better?"
"Will this faith community help me learn to love my neighbor across the street better?"
"Will this make us extremely aware of our need to be intentional about the Great Commission?"
"Will this help us become more attentive to God?"
"Will the fruit of the spirit be more evident in the lives of those who attend our church?"
"Will this equip me/us to be sent out into my secular workplace to be Jesus in their lives?"
"Is resonate more than just a Sunday night service once a week?"
"Will this help us really think through what discipleship looks like?"
Imagine how different that would be.
These are the types of questions I am most interested in...
Much of the distcintive element of resonate will be about the concept of permission.
Giving people permission to worship God in their heart language. Giving people permission to ask hard, heart-felt searching questions that might not ask elsewhere. Giving people permission to be themselves, to not fake it, to come just as they are. Giving people permission to express their worship appropriately, but uniquely in their response to God.
It's not to say that we give permission to do whatever people want. Certainly not. There are boundaries in any healthy, functioning community. But the willingness to extend freedom in our heart-felt response to the living God.
"The greatest hermeneutic of the gospel is a community that lives by it." -Leslie Newbegin
Healthy community will be messy.
We don't always like that thought, but it's true. It's also true that unhealthy community can be messy. But the messiness of healthy community can be beautiful. It reminds people - us - that we're broken, sinful people in need of a Savior. When we're reminded of that, its at that realization that the gospel shines through.
Community is a tangible expression of the gosple as Newbegin wrote.
It's in the mess that we're forced to deal with issues, reveal the vulnerable areas of our lives to others, grow in maturity and trust, love people supernaturally rather than naturally and fall to our knees in dependence of the Living God.
We've been praying that at resonate we learn to enjoy the messiness of healthy God-honoring community, because its at that point when we are seeing the tangible evidence of the gospel at work.
Will you join with me in praying that resonate will be messy?
Someone asked me recently, 'Why are you using the blog to share so much information, vision and direction with people about resonate?'
I don't remember how I answered -- I think I said something about prefer to err on the side of over-informing than under-communicating -- but I found a great quote by Tozer that I find applicable to the dicussion:
"What we think about when we are free to think about what we will -- that is what we are or will soon become."
Building the foundation of this ministry comes through critical thought and direction because what we think about is what we will soon become.
I've been doing a fair share of teaching preparation this week. I'm preaching this weekend at Calvary on the topic of how our position (our status, our standing, our identity) impacts the calling God has on our lives. I'm very excited about the material and the passage of Scripture and have found myself wrapped up in the process, being personally challenged (as I should be!) in the preparation.
Would you commit to praying for me in my preparation this week and the delievery on Sunday morning? I would appreciate it.
Recently my prayers for resonate have revolved around a fairly familiar prayer found in 1 Chronicles 12:32: I have been praying for Issachar-type men (and women). The men of Issachar:
"...knew the times and knew what Israel should do." (NIV)
The New Living Translation lets my prayer imagination run wild:
"All these men understood the temper of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take."
I have been praying that we would be people who were able to study the Scriptures, seek out what God wants for us, but also to be students of humanity and culture, eagerly ready to connect the dots between culture and faith.
God, may you bring Issachar men and women to this ministry...