Ben White's Adventures with softened hearts

Month: August 2017

How, Oh How Can We Be New?

Dan and I spent two hours Tuesday morning walking around our Pennsauken neighborhood hanging flyers on our neighbor’s door knobs. We wanted them to know that we’re trying to do something new by starting two new Sunday meetings, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 7:00 p.m. Afterward I marked out the area we had covered on a map of our target are in the gathering room at 3800 Marlton Pike. On that big map, the streets we canvassed in two hours were about the size of a dime. Phew! This is going to take a long time! It takes some work to be new.

But every time I walk around the neighborhood I realize that we’re newer than we think. This week we met people who are new to the neighborhood who have never heard of us. We also met people who grew up in the neighborhood but they were still new to the knowledge that “Oh Circle of Hope is a church?! That’s not a firehouse anymore?!” We’re newer than we thought even before we started two new meetings.

The energy of the new meetings is a lot of fun. The teams that have gathered around them are the best part. On Sunday mornings we stand in a big circle at 10:00 a.m. and pray for all the people who might be on there way. Then we snap into action and we’re ready for them when they arrive. Many hands, light work… light work, good vibes. In the evening, the team turns our garage bays into a living room, moving almost every piece of thrift store furniture we have collected in the place. Folks that come for the first time are getting in on the action when it’s time to move it back. We’re making something together. It feels good.

And the goodness is spreading. The cell leaders are getting in on the action by hanging the same flyers on door knobs in the neighborhoods where their cells meet. We’re spreading out across the region. Planting seeds, maybe in areas not bigger than dimes on our map, but so be it–the seeds are sown. We’re doing it together. That’s the whole point.

Honestly, it’s not that grandiose. By doing something new I think we’re getting back to basics. It’s a lot simpler and, as a result, older. The church has been regular folks living life together for a long time. Our simple vision is an old vision. Acts 20:20 says that the disciples in the early church met “in public and from house to house.” That’s our Sunday meetings and cells. It doesn’t take much more than sincere participation in these simple gatherings to be a real Christian. The meetings need to happen because they need to be made. Christians are makers and we want to be good at making something with Jesus. Space needs to be made for the next person because we need to love them intentionally. Christians are lovers who love without exception. That’s it! Make something with love! Each person brings their gifts, their love and their mustard seed of faith that any of this matters and the miracle of the Church gets born every day. We’re new, yes. We’ve always been that way.

Check out our facebook events for details of our Sunday Meeting After Party on September 10th and or come to our Family Dinner for More Than Just Family on September 3.

All Hands on Deck

“All hands on deck” is an example of a synecdoche.

Synecdoche : nounRhetoric. 1. a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part.

The captain calls, “All hands on deck!” and, of course, he is not calling the whole crew to lop off their hands and throw them to the deck of the ship. The hands are the part of the person he needs at that moment–he needs hands for pulling ropes and hoisting sails. “Synecdoche” is one of those strange words that got caught in my head via a handmade poster on the wall of Ms. Clock’s freshman English class at Central High School in Philadelphia. Synecdoche–the part and the whole speaking for each other. It sounds like the body of Christ, right?

We’re at an “all hands on deck” moment in the life of Circle of Hope in South Jersey. We’re trying something that we have never done before, and honestly, we have probably just enough hands to pull it off. It’s close. We are starting two new Sunday meetings on August 20th– one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 7 p.m. Each has it’s own flavor; each is going to be awesome.

The best reason to do something like this is precisely the difficulty of it. For me, one of the best reasons to be a Christian is the big project Jesus gives us. The world redemption project into which we are conscripted as Jesus followers is worthy of all my talent and ability. I have a purpose that makes life fun. I’m not just clocking in and clocking out; I’m living a whole life with my whole self and it’s a whole lot of fun.

young people smiling

here are some good hands.

i was telling one of the leaders of the new 7 p.m. meeting that the best things we have going for us are all the people who are making this thing happen. And the best thing we have to give them is an opportunity to make something happen.

We live in a world that makes us feel incredibly small. We’re always getting dinged for something, from parking tickets to hidden fees. We’re always being watched–by our employers, the government and especially the marketers. Things are set in motion by giant institutions that are so complex it seems futile to even understand them, let alone change them. People tell us that pure scientific facts are the only things that are real so we are just molecules in a swirling universe–our fates long set by physics equations in a distant star. Despair grows well in such tiny hearts.

So let’s make something–not because we have to but because we CAN! I told that same leader that we don’t have to do any of this. We could do nothing or anything else. This is incredibly freeing. We are part of something already. That is a fact worth living into. Jesus has included us. We’re not in jeopardy of being out. We can actively exclude ourselves if we choose, and Jesus’ is gentle enough to let us pull away, but let’s not. Our hands are useful. Our hand make stuff. Our hands are part of the whole. We are part of the whole.