Last night our church hosted their first “Trunk or Treat” a outreach/marketing event replicated at churches across the country. It might be my connection to this church or it might be something bigger — last night was moving.
Moving because nearly 2000 people attended our first event over two hours, our church is maybe, maybe, has 250 regular attendees. Nearly 10 times the number of people that attend that church showed up last night.
I have spent all my life in churches, dabbling in the texts of most of the world religions, surrounding myself with people who help build me up, challenge my beliefs (in a good way), and live my life trying to leave the world kinder than I found it.
What I have learned over a lifetime in churches was brought into focus last night as the lines grew for the promise of candy.
Humans are social creatures, we all know that. About a year ago my friend Jeff introduced me to this idea of “missional communities” and you can find many definitions of what that means, but for me it means building a community build on a foundation of love, friendship, empathy, and a deep desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves regardless of race, religion, or creed.
That doesn’t mean church.
A church is a building and honestly church and “Christianity” come with their own baggage that, if we are being truthful to ourselves, make it easy to understand why they are a big turn off to people.
2000 people showed up last night, do you think there are 2000 people crowded in our church this morning?
Of course not.
But, each one of those people were impacted by the kindness of strangers and in brilliant acts of things that might be hard to understand, some of those strangers will become friends, those friends will introduce them to other friends, and that is how you build a community.
The idea of a missional community has absolutely nothing to do with a building, it has to do with the effect you have on other people. A smile, a conversation when someone needs to talk, encouragement when they need it, and a kick in the ass when it is time for it. I get it, building things is hard — but for some people, sharing is harder yet.
Seeing so many people I have never met before in a parking lot sharing laughs, candy, and community was a pretty amazing sight. Would it be nice if they all came back to The Story? Sure, but in 2016 people need a break from the burden of their lives, the tyranny of the news cycle, the hopelessness of our political system and the good news is you could be that break.
You never need to quote a bible verse, you never need to mention Jesus, or even invite someone your church, in fact you don’t even need to belong to a church, all you need to do is get a bit outside your comfort zone and smile.
Think about it this way, if 2000 people last night had a great time — what would the world look like if we could impact 2000 people a day?
The good news is you can, the point is that we need you to.
Now go, smile.