God’s work is hard. Ministry is messy. And sometimes I find myself in the boat with doubting Thomas. I am not by nature that kid who just jumps in and runs with it. I am proactive. I plan. I examine the big picture and work out every last detail. I like clear motives and a well executed purpose. But . . . it hasn’t worked that way.
Back in July, a small group of friends and I felt the urge to blindly jump into this local outreach ministry. We wanted to be used to change our community, we wanted to be the hands and feet of Christ and we wanted to love in a radical way. There was no plan, no motives other than the fact of being obedient to where God was leading.
I was asked yesterday, “What is the end result of the homeless ministry?” and “what does the path look like to get there.”
I could ramble off several ideas to what I think the “right” answer to that question is or what people want to hear. Honestly, it is a great question to ponder, and it’s wise to have such a “mission statement” in place.
I mean obviously, the number one reason we do what we do is for the glory of God to be revealed, to help prepare the way for folks to encounter Him, and nurture His changing power in people’s lives. But as far as the path to get there and what that looks like . . . I don’t know. All I know is that I am burdened for the path to be different.
This morning, I went searching for this article: Go with Your Gut (or Else . . .) I don’t really remember the details to why I was sent the link, but the article’s message has stuck with me since. /
When we seek God . . . He leads. Three months ago He led us to Monroe Park. And the ‘gut’ behind it wasn’t completely about providing physical needs. When I think of the homeless (or really people in general) my gut screams communitas.
We get the word community from communitas. Community is defined as a group of interacting people who share common interest, values, beliefs, geographical location . . . and so on. But communitas is so much more than that. Where community is built of common haves, communitas is built on the lack of. It takes community to the next level; it brings everyone onto an equal plane.
Vince Anntonucci has several word pictures describing the differences between Community and Communitas in his book Guerrilla Lovers: Changing the World with Revolutionary Compassion (recommend this read!) He describes community as some of the small groups we’ve been a part of. You know, the ones that look like this: “eating jello with fruit hiding in the middle, discussing what the unpardonable sin might be and that dress the pastor’s wife was wearing that other day, playing charades, talking about whether we should do the bake sale again this year, and praying for Aunt Iris’s arthritis.”
Where Communitas looks more like the firefighters and police men during 9-11 or Jesus’ calling to the 12 disciples “I want you to follow me, but understand this: if you follow me, it’s gonna require everything you have. It will be a life of self-sacrifice. You’ll have to put the needs of this group above your own, whether you like it or not. And the mission is paramount. We are starting a revolution to try to convince everyone that a life of loving God and loving people is the best way to live, and the mission must come first in your life. Engaging in this mission is going to get me killed, and it very well may get you killed. So you want to be a part of this group or not?”
Community is good. It is safe. And it has its place. But Communitas is where I believe God is calling us to camp—calling me. It’s untidy. It’s dangerous. It’s what Jesus lived when he walked the earth.
I want to learn to be in communitas with the widows, the homeless, the sick, the lonely, the man driving his BMW beside me on Broad, the lady riding her John Deer on the farm in Powhatan, the starving baby in the African safari, my family, the young girl crying on the floor of a brothel, the dad who just got laid off, the single mother who regrets her life choices, my co-workers, the Godly woman who is crumbling behind her mask, my PCC family, the young boy who struggles with porn, the father who hides behind the bottle, and the list can go on.I don’t really have answers for all of the questions I’ve been getting or even a concrete plan. For the first time in my life, I am really ok with that. Because I know He does, and I know I can’t go wrong if I follow where He leads. So for now, I’m going to keep on seeking, keep on following, keep on serving, going with my gut of living in communtias rather than community, and linking arms with those who are jumping with me.