What if…the Church Chose To Live In the Same Neighbourhood?

I’m not thinking about gated communities, just the opposite.

Everyone lives somewhere. What if we made a choice to live near enough to each other that we could share meals, mowers, child rearing and backyard bbqs without having to take our cars? What if being physically near each other was a value that we lived out?

A week of camping with a group of teens, some of the most self-centered people in the world, turns into a love-in (not like that) after spending day and night together for a week. Hanging out, being together can bring out the best and worst of us but helps us find the true us.

A while ago I was on a trip with about half a dozen people from our church. We were 10 days together in one place, sharing rooms and in some cases, sharing beds. The purpose of the trip was to help out some folks with some construction projects and spend time and money on an orphanage full of some of the most beautiful children in the world. In the midst of that we got to just have some fun, hit the beach, waterfalls, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (I think that’s in Proverbs…)

One of the members of the team was lemon juice to my paper cut, he was banana peppers to my nervous colon, sandpaper to my third degree burn.

On day nine; hot, exhausted and frustrated, we boarded a bus, a crowded bus, a bus with more people than seats. My Lemon Juice sat down in the last open seat. Standing next to him, no other seats available, locals scooting over to make room for some of my other friends, I asked Lemon Juice to make a little room for me. “Sorry man,” he said, “I’m already squished in here.” I looked down at Lemon, my teammate, my compradre. He stared straight ahead avoiding making eye contact with me. Something dark and murderous stirred, o.k., spasmed, jumped, pounded in my heart.

In that moment I came very, very close to grabbing Lemon by the throat and helping him find a ‘little more space’ in the seat. I swear the local girl sitting next to him by the window gave me a look that said, “Go ahead, kill him, I won’t say a word.” But I sat on the floor. I sat on the floor and contemplated murder. Much more sinner than saint. And I was shocked by the violence I saw inside myself. A violence that rarely gets a chance in my everyday, I’ll give you an hour, hi and good-bye world. I needed to come face to face with that un-dead part of me. Without my Lemon, how would I ever be honest I was cut?

If you read the Bible fairly you’ll see that the disciples living everyday and everywhere with Jesus often got bitchy, cranky, critical, frustrated, and selfish. I think it’s part of the process of becoming fully human, truly alive, really real that can only happen when we make a point of being together, sharing space, day in, day out, good and bad, and sharing meals, not just recipes.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
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4 Responses to What if…the Church Chose To Live In the Same Neighbourhood?

  1. nakedpastor says:

    i’ve often wondered how the church would change if it was neighborhooded. but it can create its own neighborhood too. we’re seeing that happen.

  2. brianmpei says:

    what I struggle with, probably, is, definitely, is, laziness. I would rather be two houses down than have to load up the car and drive 10 – 15 minutes to hang out.

  3. Shelley says:

    i think this is why i like SSU so much despite its many faults…when you are that close to people you can’t even pretend that you do church well because you see everyone for who they are–good, bad, ugly (lots of ugly sometimes) and everyone is so darn human. But i love that i know everyone in my apartment building, and I share meals with people that i might not normally choose to hang out with, and i fold other people’s underwear out of the dryer because i want to use it (that’s the ugly part). These are things that you don’t experience when you live so independently because you aren’t FORCED to live in community, you only do when you you feel like it –like sunday afternoon potlucks, or trips with the youth group. That’s not community at all actually, it’s just authentic socializing at best. I think that if we all lived in a neighbourhood where each of our decisions drastically affected those around us, we would be quicker to change and grow and realize that we aren’t so different after all.

  4. Patty says:

    great insight, shelley!

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