One Conversation

     Are your eyes open to the possibilities around you?  I confess that I am often so tuned in to my own life, thoughts, issues, lists, plans, and conundrums, that I can be almost oblivious to the world around me.  However, our church is involved in a new endeavor.  It is called Reaching New People.  Basically, this is a new ministry in which the church tries to build relationships with people outside of the church.  We ask that church members try to build connections with non-church members.  Eventually, these relationships will lead those outside the church to be curious about the church.
     Another part of this ministry is to get the pastor out of the church.  I am supposed to be building relationships with people outside of our church instead of staying insulated in my office.  I must confess that this is a little intimidating.  How does one approach total strangers?  How do I move beyond a few casual words of greeting to establish more of a relationship.  I was coached to have a question ready.  I still felt awkward.  However, I want to help grow the church.  I know that my life is better because I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want others to have that same experience.  Because this is important to me, I’m willing to be a little awkward.  I’m willing to be a lot awkward.
     It was suggested that I get out into the community in places that invite conversation.  I go to several places including a couple of nearby coffee shops. I decided that one of the things missing in these adventures in awkwardness was prayer.  We have a goal of a prayer team for our events, but we do not have anyone covering our Reaching New People in prayer.  This time I prayed before I entered the coffee shop.  I confess that it was a prayer of almost desperation.  Lord, please let me find someone to talk to!.
     I walked in to a new coffee shop.  There were very few people in the shop.  I found one outlet.  It was at the table next to one of the few patrons.  I looked at the patron.  He was in scrubs!  Well, there is a conversation starter.  I began by assuring him that I was not trying to invade his space.  I told him he was sitting next to the outlet.  There was a brief exchange.  It was not earth shattering conversation.  It also was not awkward.  I just talked, listened, and shared.
     Thank you, Jesus, for non-awkward conversations.  I hope you will pray for me as I continue to search for ways to be in connection with the community.  I hope that these regular conversations will open the door for God to move in my life and in the lives of others.  I also hope that  you will be reaching out to new people, making connections, and transforming the world.  We serve a Savior who invited a few close friends into fellowship.  Then, they went about changing the world.  We can change the world as well, one conversation at a time.
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Communal Gathering

coffee / 本日のコーヒーphoto © 2005 Kanko | more info (via: Wylio)Community is all around us, but we have to open our eyes to it.  Recently I was at a local Starbucks before 7:00 a.m.  Generally this is not the time that I am in Starbucks. I am usually leaving the house at that time.  The folks who were sitting in the Starbucks were an interesting mix.  Those who occupied the tables were all men, which made me wonder why men seem to congregate for breakfast.  There were groups that obviously worked together as well as some who seem to meet just for the opportunity to share their morning.  What was more interesting than those sitting at the tables was the line, the long line of folks who made a conscious choice to stop, get out of their cars, since this Starbucks has no drive thru, and come into Starbucks.  It added another task to their mornings. Most of us do not want to add to our morning schedules.  The only reason I was present was that I had to be somewhere at 6:00 a.m. and then nearby at 9:30 a.m.

My theory for why there was so much business what that this was about more than coffee.  This gathering was about community.  These individuals wanted to make a personal connection before beginning the work day.  They may or may not have had family at home.  They needed to feel a part of the larger community.

We all need that sense of connection.  We need to know that we are a part of a group that is beyond our immediate family.  We need to know that we have others in the world who choose to spend time with us, who care about us, and who we can share our lives with regularly.

Sometimes that community is easier to find and/or meet with than others.  All of our efforts at being a community take at least some effort.  How are you being a part your community?  Are you spending time at a local gathering place, like Starbucks?  Do you attend events in your community, like a community dinner?  Are  you helping others find a place where they can belong?  Let us grow community by being a part of the community.  Let us open our eyes to the possibility.