It’s the Circle of Hope Summer Tour ya’ll! We’re showing up where Philly gathers. At the Night Market in Old City last night a few of us showed up with like 10,000 other people. I waited in line for 15 minutes to get this taco! But it was a lot of fun.
The whole point of showing up where Philly gathers is that we are putting ourselves out there because we think that God wants to use us to reach all of philadelphia (and beyond). When there’s a big group of people gathered it’s an opportunity to influence them for their good.
To do this we have to get over a few things:
1) Our squeamishness about influencing anybody. We’ve been taught that influence is kin to cultural imperialism and borderline violent. To influence someone is to trample upon their rights to choose for themselves and create their own ideas and thoughts about the universe or just their own persons. If God exists he gave each of us the right to decide for ourselves, which God did, but this has come to mean that each individual is supposedly free from influence that might taint their individual process. Hogwash! We are all inundated wih influence. The story of our individually pure volition is a thin veneer over the influence of any number of sources but mostly our families of origin and advertisers. We are very influenced and if we let those who are unsqueamish about influence (who are primarily interested in getting our money or getting power over us) get all the airplay, then we’re doomed.
2) Our fear of being scrutinized. I put some claims on a flyer that might not hold up under intense scrutiny. This flyer says: “Cynics and skeptics welcome. We admit that the last century has made a lot of people skeptical of Christians. Do you want to try something new with us?” The skeptical question from anyone who might give this flyer to someone is “Are we really new? Or are we not that different from whatever burnd people in the past?” My answer: “We better be!” Otherwise all is meaningless. And that is the doubting counterpoint to my entire faith, around which I have organized my life. The only options are that we are dillusional or that God is indeed making us new. I’m banking on newness and it keeps proving true even when it isn’t as good as I want it to be. We’ll have to be good enough with God’s help.
3) Doing something uncomfortable. I’m a very outgoing guy but I still feel wierd when I’m handing out flyers. When people say no, or ignore me it gets at me. When I stop in the middle of the crowd and start doing something that might impose on someone or spoil their good time I’m tempted to feel like a jerk. When I don’t see instant results I wonder why I’m doing it anyway. It is uncomfortable and I get to pray about that while I’m doing it. I get loosened up and I get on a roll. If one person takes it a stream of people behind them take it too. I don’t know how effective it will be, but last night at least I didn’t see anyone throw it away in the trash can a few yards to my left. God’s going to have to land that flyer in the exact right hand for the flyer to really make a difference, which is not impossible, but in the meantime Circle of Hope get’s our name out there and maybe more importantly, we get out there and get over this stuff.
Because if we get over this stuff in this fun way with strangers, we might be more ready to do it with our friends. If we expose ourselves, out ourselves, be ourselves in Christ, we might be more effective in sharing our faith and including people in our community, which is our goal as a people and the work our leader gave us.