I hope you enjoy that this blog post has a soundtrack. I felt like it was necessary.
John Wesley says that the world is our parish and we better get started. This has been in my mind the past five days. One definition of parish is a local church with its field of activity. This makes me believe that we are not called to grab people off the street, pulling them by the ear and throwing them into our sanctuaries; nor are we called to turn up our AV systems so loud that the the surrounding neighborhood has no choice but to listen to worship; nor are we called to yell at people and condemning them to Hell, using the logic of “God is good because LOUD NOISES!!” I don’t think we are called to do those things. I think we are called to extend our field of activity and allow the church to follow.
Sitting at our SLT meeting last weekend, we were all visioning and brainstorming and asking questions. It was a good conversation. This phrase, however, came out over and over again “well, in the real world…” and then we went to talking about school, work, home, even. All of this was said to imply that church, youth, SLT, even, are not the real world. It is a different thing. Somethings at church, youth, etc. are so much easier than “in the real world.” If my imaginary friends at church are being rude to each other or intolerant of someone else, I’ll usually say something. On Tuesday night, Kevin got to hear some Quips of Wisdom For the Young Gentleman-something he gets only because he’s imaginary:). My real world friends have to get a little worse before I let them know they’re bothering me. Somethings are harder with my imaginary friends. Even though some of the SLTers are my best friends, even though they know basically everything about me, they are things I’ll never talk to them about. Things that bother me everyday even. Sometimes I feel like I should even have two different planners, because it so often feels like I’m living two different lives.
I was at a committee meeting a few months ago. We were scheduling our next meeting and one woman asked if it mattered if we met in the middle of the day and if “anybody here does anything outside of The Church?” I was the only one. It’s state-mandated that I do something besides church, so that’s not so impressive either. This has bothered me a lot actually. I feel like we should constantly be in and out of the church. It doesn’t matter how wonderful we make our little church to be if we don’t share it with The Real World.
My dad once told me that a church without any outreach is just a rotary club. A bunch of people eating pancakes doesn’t mean anything if they don’t help people. I think that’s really, really true. I don’t want to eat pancakes. I want to love people.
Now, I don’t think my SLT are in danger of becoming isolated pancake-eaters. But I do think that the mindset of having Church and then The Real World is making our lives harder. I think the more we align these two parts of our lives with God, the better both will become. And I think that the further out of our sanctuaries we get, the more we share our faith with The Real World, the better we’re doing. So, we better get started.