Tiny Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.

Friday, January 31, 2014

City Planning

I've been going to church my whole life....
Whenever my family moved, one of the first things we did was go church 'shopping'.  I carried this practice on into adulthood.  Surrounded by uncertainly in unfamiliar areas, the church was always a safe place to land.  I wanted a place where people would love me (and my children) and people whom I could love and relate to.  It really wasn't that much about God per se as it was about what I needed (Yes, I am aware how self-centered that sounds...  ).

There isn't a town I've lived in that I haven't had a church home. 

When I was in college, I trudged down to the campus church (Yes - I even went to church in college).

As a young adult, well...  there weren't a lot of other young adults in church, but...  I found one that was young enough.

When I had rug-rats hanging on my sweater tails and wrapped around my legs, I settled into a church that where toddlers crawled under the pews and moms came armed with Cheerios to get them through the worship service.    

I'd look for what felt like (or had the promise of being) an extended family.  I mean, isn't that what we all want in a church?  Family.  That's what I wanted.
Heck - If I'm being honest, that's what I still want, but (and now I'm going to sound like a total hypocrite).....  
You know what I got as I searched around for what worked for me?

A bunch of people... Just.  Like.  Me.
I mean, they were/are lovely people and that's how a family often is:
We look like one another because of genetics or clothing styles.  
We act like one another because of tradition or influence.  
We have the same interests because of education and exposure.  

And - well, that's nice.  I'm so NOT trying to demean 'family' at all, but I do not think it's a good model for a church.  

A church that functions as 'family' is:  Insulated.  Siloed.  Segregated.  Incestuous.  

We are not called to birth families; we are called to build cities.

Cities on hills, which will be lights to the world (Matthew 5:14).  
Cities which are not hidden or separated from all that is going on. 
Cities where there are people who do NOT look like me.
Cities where there are people who do NOT think like me.  
Cities where there are people who do NOT act like me.
And maybe even cities where there are people who do NOT actually like me. 

That would be hard...  

City planners know that everything which surrounds the area and everything within the area must be taken into account.  They look at the land, they look at the transportation systems, they look at the job industry, they look at what needs to be preserved (and what needs to go by the wayside), and they look at the people - all the people.

They take into account poverty and wealth; language and literacy; lifestyle and generational dynamics.

Wrestling with all these things - and yes, it's a lot - helps city planners raise up healthy, vibrant cities in the most unexpected of places.

City planners don't look to plan in a place that's already what they desire...  
No.  City planners look for the rundown city, the unsafe city, the city that the world forgot... 
And city planners use the gifts within the city to help shape the city into what those who live there need.  

What if that's how we did church?

What if as 'city builders' ourselves we did two things:
1) Don't search for the church that gives us what we want, but land in the church which needs what we can give.  

I mean, I'll tell you what....  there are some churches that have finance people coming out of their ears and some that are hoping to just be able to find someone to write checks.  There are some churches where plumbing issues are never a problem because there are at least 8 plumbers within the congregation, but there's not a single person who can figure out who to launch a webpage.  

'City' churches need all kinds of people.  Not the same kinds of people.  

2)  Don't be a family.

I know.  I know.  But really...  let's think about this practically for one second.
Families allow for many many great things, but they also tolerate dysfunction and unhealthy behaviors. In a family there are those that sit on the couch and there are those that take the garbage out.  In a city - everyone works, everyone has ownership... and if they don't, well there are consequences.  

I'm not saying that the church become all 'law' orientated, but treating people with respect and expectation means they are integral parts of the system.  And well, I'm fairly certain that God actually expects a lot out of us.  

Families stick by one another no matter what (at least most of the time) and that can be a lovely thing.  But not so much when the family unit becomes more important than finding out what others have to say or what others think...  

Find a place where you don't fit....
And you just might find that that 'city' needs you desperately for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven...  

Because what's the Bible say Heaven will look like?
And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from Heaven...  
A City.

Heaven and earth are joined in a City.
A City which shines light not only on a hill, but in the valleys and deserts alike.
In the name of God there is no place where Heaven should not or cannot be raised up.
Does the resurrection not tell us that?!

1 comment:

  1. I really like this... and the thought of trying to land in a church which needs what we can give.... NICE....