I spent this last weekend with a very unique – and very cool – church community in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They simply refer to themselves as The Church at Bowling Green. Hmmm…sounds a lot like The Church at Ephesus, or Philippi, or Colossae.
I had been there a couple times before, but I was reminded again why I like visiting so much. They take the whole “community” idea very, very seriously. It almost feels weird to use the word seriously to describe how they go about building and developing community. It is so woven into the fabric of who they are that it doesn’t seem like something they have to seriously think about much. They just do it.
Here’s what I mean. Just like at Creekside, they meet in a school. When I got there 30 minutes early I saw the familiar sight of people setting up and getting ready. The first thing I noticed was that they actually set up the schools tables instead of just chairs. And they set them up “in the round.” They sat, stood, and sung looking at each other. Engaged with each other.
There was music – all acappella – and announcements and a time of open sharing and praying for each other. I was introduced and shared the first part of Romans. Then there was the Lord’s Supper (which they do every week). And it lasted 20 minutes. Not because there was quiet music and personal prayer. It lasted 20 minutes because they gather around the tables, pour each other glasses of grape juice, break off chunks of bread, and have a meal together. They talk about the Lord’s Supper. They have conversations about whatever has been shared that morning. What they are learning…struggling with…trying to apply.
At that point – and all the kids have returned from classes by now to share in the meal – I continued with the last five chapters of Romans. A couple more songs and people were dismissed. But not to go home (although a few did). They were dismissed to set out all the food for lunch. Every week – yep, you heard that correctly – they have a potluck lunch and eat together. And they don’t eat and run. They stay. They talk. They laugh.
They start at 10am and the last few families typically trickle out about 2:30 in the afternoon. This happens every week. That night we gathered again to talk about Like Ice Cream (my book about helping the next generation fall in love with God’s Word). About 60 people came back – 20 of whom were little kids. It was a little noisy, but it was beautiful. I loved it. And they brought ice cream (also beautiful!) so they could stay and hang out and be together some more.
Oh…and I guess about four of the families hadn’t had enough time together, because they all went out afterward (about 8:30pm) to a Mexican restaurant for another 90 minutes. More food. More laughing. More sharing. More…well…community.
Yes…this was a wonderful weekend.
Where have you seen community lived out?