Monday, April 16, 2012

Real Community and Raspberry Bars


It is 9 pm right now and I should be gearing up for a bowl of cereal. Or something. I ran into Aldi this afternoon for an emergency bag of tortilla chips that sit unopened. I should have known better, because this was book club night.

Sometimes we call it Book Club. Sometimes we call it Bible Study. Silas calls it Bible Studding. Whatev. All I know is, I always leave there full.

For one thing, the girls are all phenomenal cooks. I'm talking homemade cheesy potatoes with ham, spinach salad with bacon and hard-cooked eggs, fresh fruit. I'm talking two helpings of each.

My contribution was dessert. I made these. Next time I'll divide the crumble more prudently amongst the bottom and the top, but otherwise? Yum. If I do say so.

Not only is my stomach full on Monday nights, but my heart and my soul and my head are, too. What started as a random, impromptu gathering of new friends has grown into a real community.

So yes, it's ironic that we are currently wrestling through  Barefoot Church, by Brandon Hatmaker. In engaging, Biblical text, a beautiful image of true community and pure mission emerges. Barefoot Church takes me to a child-like place of belief in the Church, where everything is possible and day-dreaming takes on a brand new meaning.

We sit in a circle and read and talk and read and talk and sometimes, we just sit. Sometimes, we're too full for words. Sometimes, we're mind-readers.

Sometimes we tear up a little and very often, we cackle like hens. Yes, even the men. Especially the men. Hens.

Last week I was stuck on this:

We may say we're a church on mission, yet we have so many on-campus programs that our people never have time to live on mission in their neighborhoods. We may say we're more than just a Sunday service, but 90 percent of our resources and efforts are either committed to the Sunday morning experience or events designed to draw people to our buildings. We may think we serve, but if we took an honest look, we'd find only a small percentage of our people actually serving outside the church. - Brandon Hatmaker, The Barefoot Church (p 24)

 Here are tonight's highlights:

As believers, we have got to find a way to see poverty and injustice in the world as wrong and forth fighting against. We need our neglect to be exposed. We need to see the indictment of Scripture. And we need to no longer stand for it. - Brandon Hatmaker, The Barefoot Church (p 32)

We often confuse the heart of compassion that requires and response with the feeling of sympathy that remains idle. - Brandon Hatmaker, The Barefoot Church (p 34)

For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes.I was sick, and you pointed out behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved. - Matthew 25:44-46 paraphrased by Richard E. Stearns

What do you think about all of this? What does community mean to you? What do you see and what do you day-dream? Help me process.

33 comments:

  1. I just read all that twice. I feel like I need to say: BAM!

    Did they nail that or what?

    Look, I;ve got plenty of time on my hands up here on the peds wing, so I'll be chewing on this for the rest of the evening. Law.

    That may have just tore my evening up.

    That's why I love you.

    xxoo

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  2. P.S.- Typing in the dark. Enough said.

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  3. Those Hatmakers, they just rock my socks. Shake me down. Such good words. It does make one believe that the church can do anything, that we can actually be *gasp* used by Christ, if we'll just get out there and do. <3 it.

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  4. Wow... I've been thinking about community A LOT.

    I read this yesterday: http://www.incourage.me/2012/04/why-you-need-to-find-community-even-when-youre-really-hurting.html

    I minimized it on my computer so I could go back later and read through it again.

    When I get hurt, or disappointed, I tend to pull back and do the Lone Ranger thing. Not a good idea. Not God's plan. So this has been so good for me.

    One thing that really attracted me to our church when we first visited (six years ago), was that so many people in the church LIVED IT. It wasn't a Sunday morning thing, or a Wednesday night thing. They didn't DO bible study, they LIVED bible study.

    Thanks for sharing your heart. I would love to chat with you over a cup of joe.... or chips and salsa. :)

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  5. Yes, yes, yes! We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. We must go out into our communities and be Christ...sometimes we are the only Bible many people will ever read! Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit and ransom the captives (child/sex slavery still goes on in our world!!!!), etc. etc.

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  6. As Derry said Sunday morning (and I believe he was quoting from another text), Am I offended or provoked (to compassion and action) by the sin and injustice around me? I can't stop thinking of that. Even as I watched students today at school, my heart was convicted.

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  7. Hey Shannan! I haven't read the book you're talking about, but I kind of get nervous when people want to minimize what goes on on Sunday mornings. The preaching of the Word, the sacraments, confession, singing our hearts out, giving back to God what He has so graciously given to us...these are important things that we do, we Jesus followers. They are not just something to entertain us on our day of rest. Yes, we be lights in the world, holding out the words of life. We are to seek His kingdom first. We are to make God's priorities our priorities, not the other way around. But if we abandon the things that make the church the Church, we will just be any other humanist organization, trying to do right by the world.
    I agree with what Valerie wrote just before me...but I feel strongly that we must not forsake meeting together and MEETING WITH GOD on Sunday mornings. For me, going to worship on Sunday morning feels like the most real thing I do all week long.
    Love reading about your heart, Shannan! I have been blessed by reading here so many times! And, I'm hoping to take part in the parenting chat next week...sigh.

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    1. Just to be clear, nothing about this book (what I've read so far) strives to minimize the significance of meeting together in community on Sunday. If you are referring to the first quote, I think the point is that there is room for more balance. The church, as a whole, does not run the risk of slacking on meeting together on Sundays. The problem is everything else. We are often so busy doing church that there isn't enough time to be the Church.

      But I'm sorry if I was unclear. I'm not for abandoning church! :)

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    2. Thanks for the reply, Shannan! No worries, you didn't come across as someone who is down on church or wanting to abandon the church.
      I agree that programs and "things to do" can often get in the way of us really being the hands and feet of Christ.
      My husband brought up an interesting point to me last night about the book of Exodus. When the Israelites were in Egypt in slavery and God was planning to get them out, the thing He wanted them to do out in the desert was WORSHIP. Go out and worship. That was it. That really made me think, for what it's worth.
      Thanks for the conversation, Shannan!

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    3. I just read this post and it hits the nail on the head of our conversation. Thought I'd share!

      http://www.beautifullyrooted.com/2012/04/alabaster-jar.html

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    4. Yes. That was really beautiful. Thanks for the link, Shannan!

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  8. Where we are, we'd love love love to see entire families come to know the Lord and see the gospel grow and flourish where it never has before. Yet, so far it seems the "only" folks who have found Jesus are the broken, poor, and outcast. As much as it is my goal to continue to see WHOLE families come to know the Lord (If Moms and Dads are believing, they wont send their kids to 're-education' camps for believing as well!) I can't get over my Lord's word image of the sick needing a doctor and praising Him for attending ever so incredibly to the sick who have found him here.

    Have you read the Time Magazine special on Mother Theresa? (it was like circa a couple years ago, but you can google anything right?) You'd bawl your eyes out over every page...dripping with Jesus' love and the conviction in your own heart. I highly Do and Don't recommend reading it.
    Carry-on sister.

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  9. I'm still being messed up by 7. Barefoot church is on deck for me. I wish I was part of your little group. Man. Plus the food looks so good. ;)

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  10. i totally agree with you and kit above. which is probably why i love our church so much... they fully equip us saints IN the church for us to go OUT of the church to spread the WORD! it's a sweet deal. one that Christ designed. how blessed are we to get to take part in the grand plan!

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  11. That first passage from the book had me "amen-ing" right here at my computer screen. The vision is sometimes lost or at least muddied when we consider what the church should be doing in these present times. Sounds like Mr. Hatmaker has the right idea.

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  12. That Robert Stearns paraphrase just knocked me down. We seem to be so fractured in our efforts for community--is there a "right" way? It seems like we can chase relationships all day, but I'm not sure I know what "community" is until I FEEL it.

    Excited it read this book; it's $2.99 on Amazon Kindle right now.

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  13. Just finished reading this book, and Interrupted...challenging and inspiring! So much to think about, and pray about, I'm still trying to digest it all. "7" wrecked me first...I have learned a lot ~ now to apply it! Thanks for introducing me to the Hatmakers ;-)
    Those squares look yummy, may have to try them as I love anything raspberry. Be Blessed!

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  14. I'm almost finished with "7" thanks to your mention of it. I'd never heard of this couple before. A group of us are in the middle of really trying to DO something as opposed to TALKING about doing something. It is incredibly hard and not supported by some who we thought we be on board. Ultimately, it is much easier to point out the problems and then criticize how some are trying to help than it is to roll up our own sleeves and get busy. Thanks for the challenging posts, Shannon.

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  15. Hi friend! You might be interested in the cover story from last week's (April 9) Newsweek -- "Forget the Church, Follow Jesus." Kind of ties in to what you reading. Hope to see you soon! Let me know if you have a free Monday for lunch! xo

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    1. Hello! I did see the cover, but haven't read the article. I'm interested to see the author's perspective, but I think it's important to note that Jesus would never want us to forget the church! It's not either/or. I'm almost positive that both are possible, it may just require some needed adjustments and creativity.

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  16. I get it and I love it. I go to a mega church, THE Mega Church in Seattle and sometimes I think we are so busy trying to serve those in the church (who do need it, but it kind of seems like we're just serving ourselves by doing this) that we forget about all those who will never walk in the doors in the first place because they don't know we love them. Full disclosure: I have no idea how to change this but I know I desperately want it to change.

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  17. I have like umpteen thousand million reasons why I simply can't be involved in this right now, FPFG. None of them are any good at all, though. Surely there does come a point when all His goodness starts spilling out all over the place. When the circles of our communities and Bible studdings widen and swallow up all those around us.

    When I was 18, our family was really hurt by a church experience. (My parents are Pastors) My Dad decided to go and be an associate to a friend/Pastor in Key West, you know, to regroup. That Pastor had a heart for the homeless (he called them Pilgrims) and for all of the people there and was relentless in his mission to spread LOVE, food, shelter, supplies, etc. One day I went into the office and Pastor was in his sock feet. I asked him where his shoes were and he smiled and said, "Oh sister, a Pilgrim who came in had no shoes. Can you imagine?" He couldn't, and he gave the man the shoes off his feet. (He had already given so much away that his wife couldn't trust him with his wallet or checkbook, seriously, so he started giving away what he was actually wearing.) That was definitely the perfect way to regroup...to take our eyes off ourselves for awhile. It wasn't always pretty and sometimes there were church members who grew weary of the plight of the Pilgrims, but that Pastor's work was eternal and lasting and amazing, I think.

    Sometimes it's not easy to draw the circle of our community so big that it includes smelly drunk people sitting behind you using profanity during service. But that Pastor told them that if they'd come to service, he'd feed them afterwards. They came and were fed in all kinds of ways. So was I.

    Carry on, sista. You are a window into this revolution for so many of us church girls. Speak the truth. We'll get there.

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    1. Good gracious, I'm wordy. This looked much tinier in the rough draft... :)

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    2. Abby, I loved every wordy word.

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    3. Abby - I'm really glad you shared that. I can see that Pastor standing in his stocking feet. Bet his wife just shook her head, and smiled - lol.

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  18. I need to get that book! That sounds like so much of what my husband and I are thinking about and wrestling with. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. I'm hearing you. Why do I feel so teeny tiny in my sea of nice church going folks? I'm hungry for the church you are talking about, but I don't even begin to know how to rock my own church boat.

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  20. i so want to sit and talk about all of this with you, over chips, salsa, rasberry bars, and honestly i'm so anxious to try your brussel sprouts for some weird reason.

    i feel very alone in this whole concept. people think i'm off my rocker.....but next week i begin my own 7 journey. i'm on staff at a church, but struggle with what we do, why we do it, and if we should do it.

    oh to live it - why do i run from that?????

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  21. I was distracted by the 'deport them' quote in the Ephesians. Does that mean that believing illegal immigration is illegal is against God?

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  22. deep thoughts.
    and so convicting!!!!
    i am a mess. i know what i need to do and i do the opposite.
    i wish i was in your bible studding group!
    it sounds like there is some BIG discussions. awesome.

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  23. Come on,where is the recipe???
    I just finished reading Heavenly Man,and couldn't put it down. Its about the home church movement in China. I cant' get it out of my mind. Brother Yun's life is like a fresh look at the book of Acts. I wish I lived closer to you, I would be available every Monday night!!

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    1. Mama - Whenever you see blue writing in my posts, you can click there and it will take you to exciting places like the source of a recipe or an old post.

      :)

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  24. church is about being filled up to GO OUT and be a light in places that need Him. I have learned sooo much from living in East Africa trying and failing and relying on Grace as I do that. The people here have taught me more about community than anything else before. We have to do it- if He is stirring us we need to be bold and He will always be there- He goes with us, He is IN us and He is drawing His people! Gonna have to read the Barefoot church :)

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