I am sitting here reflecting on this year’s Catalyst Conference when I should be writing a paper. I am going to pretend that getting the fingers flowing on the keyboard over here is going to help me get flowing on my paper.
Catalyst is a conference in Atlanta that is geared toward young church leaders. The theme for this year’s conference was “Together”. Amazing speakers from the church world and the business world presented some big ideas that dealt with the daily business of leading a team of people to achieve a common goal, creating culture, what it means to lead a tribe, and we were presented with opportunities to do some awesome things together as a group of 12,000 people from around the country. I am still unpacking much of what I heard and was impacted by in Atlanta but I go to thinking about how “togetherness” has always been an extremely important value in my life. Here’s some ways I have seen this work out for me:
Undoing Racism: When I was in high school, and almost failing every class, I approached my principal about getting involved with an organization that was dealing with issues I was passionate it about. He was hesitant but he let me leave school once a month to participate because he saw that I actually cared to learn something for a change. I became a member of the Community Coalition Youth Council to participate in dialogue sessions and training workshops to be a leader in helping other youth to break down the walls that separate us. I remember freestyling with Jihad and Vanessa and sharing my own songs as an example of using my gifts to spread messages that were inportant to me.
Putting on Shows: After playing in bands for a while some of my greatest joys in the music scene were the times that I set up shows for touring bands. Most of the bands I brought to Flint were often bands that only I cared about but I worked to get people together to hear something new and have a lot of fun. I remember the time that I had a new band play their first show and was able to pay them $60 (this was a ton of money in the punk rock world at the time) because we packed the place out. People came together and experienced something new because I took time to share something that was important to me.
Coffee Shops: I have worked at coffee shops and often just like to hang out at coffee shops. I love the oppurtunity for a connecting point for neighbors, friends, and lovers. Sure you get coffee but people are willing to pay just to be with other people.
Board Games: Lots of fun and rarely possible to do alone. I love to play games and it’s always a good excuse to get people over to catch up and stay up too late.
Leading Small Groups: I have had so many meaningful experiences of gathering with people to talk about God, life, hopes, dreams, regrets, heartache, and joy. Being intentional about depth isn’t always the most common thing to do but it is such an important part of creating meaningful community.
Grilling: Nothing brings people together like food. This in one thing that I really missed while Lisa and were working at Maranatha this summer. The thing I lvoe the most about barbequeing is that I get to create something and give it away. Maybe it’s just some chicken with storebought marinade or maybe it’s a peeper stuffed with bleu cheese and chives. Whatever it is it brings people around the the table to enjoy each other. Brennan Manning once said, “Sadly, the meaning of meal sharing is largely lost in the Christian community today. In the Near East, to share a meal with someone is a guarantee of peace, trust, fraternity, and forgiveness: the shared table signifies a shared life.”
We all need other people. We were created for community. How are you bringing, or have you brought, people together?