A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the D6 conference with some of our family ministries team. Now, I’m not a huge fan of conferences… Shocking, I know. As a self proclaimed glutton for production, you would think that I would whole heartedly embrace the flash and stage of most conferences.
Nah. I think the production of it all is what deters me.
However, this was the first conference I’ve attended since starting full time ministry and my perspective was radically different. I was so grateful for the opportunity to learn and worship with fellow leaders, I really didn’t even notice much of the dazzle dazzle. It just didn’t matter anymore, my eyes were trained to something different.
In standard Forge fashion, I tried to keep my eyes open and constantly ask myself, “okay, Lacey… What do you see?” I saw a lot, and learned a lot. One thing I noticed fairly consistently though was the lack of communication within the community of leaders attending the conference. It was startling sometimes, to walk into a breakout group, into a room full of other church leaders who do exactly what I do every single week, and NO ONE was talking. Silence.
Well. Maybe not exactly silence if you count the frantic clicking of iPhones, filling dead time.
A room of 40-60 children’s leaders, all facing the same kinds of needs and worries but no one is talking. And FORGET sitting next to one another. The courtesy every other chair pattern is a must. I couldn’t believe it. Here we were all with great things to share, obstacles to overcome and a common vision, but unwilling to reach out and risk the vulnerability to connect to one anther, if only for an hour long breakout. Granted, the time issue may be the very thing keeping community from happening. If I’m only going to talk with Susan from Frisco for five minutes, why say anything in the first place?
This thought has been following me for a few weeks now as the ripple effect of life outside of the Forge continues to hit. 23 people who were such a huge part of my life are now absent, and although the magic of technology makes it easy to make some contact and keep in touch, life truly together isnt reality anymore. It feels similar with my dear sweet college friends. The ladies of 229 will always and forever feel like sisters to me, but when our lives don’t intersect anymore it’s so hard to stay in close community.
People. This sucks. It feels awful to have people SO part of your life for a little while and then still there, but… not, so quickly. If this is the way things go, then WHYYYY would I let myself love others that deeply, only to have them ripped away? Why would I risk that kind of heartache?
Why do we do community if it’s not long term?
Because its not about the end product and what we can get from those around us. It’s about what God is doing in us, through us and through those around us to draw us to himself. In community, we can’t hide. When I lean over to Susan from Frisco and introduce myself, I run the risk of needing to tell my story and tell Susan from Frisco about what I do… and what I’m having trouble with. It’s so much easier to sit there and play angry birds. But who knows, in five minutes Susan from Frisco might give me just the encouragement I need. In five minutes Susan from Frisco and I might get to share stories about how God is using volunteers to change the lives of kids every single week. In five minutes, Susan might be reminded of how faithful God has been as she tells her story.
Those five minutes might reveal a little more of the story that God is telling through me.
Vulnerable, but worth the risk.
If that can happen in five minutes…what could happen in 8 months? 4 years? Or a lifetime?
What do you think? Is community worth the risk?