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on community, sunday suppers

maybe you know this -- it's tough being on staff at a church and finding safe spaces to experience non-pastoral, deep meaningful community. also, i'm just not good at it. it's WAY easier to encourage others to share their darkest secrets and in return offer advice, encouragement, love, a tidy Bible verse all without ever disclosing anything personal of my own.

no joke -- i literally just received an email from a fantastic young guy in our church who was following up after a meeting we recently had in which he trusted me with many details of his life. in his follow up email he said, "maybe next time we meet you can share your faith story."


yes, my job is to listen, pastor, encourage. of which, i LOVE.

but, also, i need a place to share and be encouraged, loved, challenged. and, ALSO ALSO, how can i truly expect the people of my church to be vulnerable and move towards community when i'm unable or unwilling? 

mic drop.

SO, this summer, kelly + i invited a few friends to join us for sunday suppers. here's what we knew: we desperately needed deeper friendships in which we were able to practice vulnerability WHILE also desiring to cook more {ME} and enjoy chicago's beautiful summer on our apartment's terrace.

sunday suppers. 

we reached out to six people we'd already experienced a level of friendship, safety, and enjoyment with. a few from our church; a few not; a few knew each other; a few didn't. the details: we'd meet every sunday for the summer, at the same time and place, and dinner would always be provided. we'd commit to showing up every sunday, willing to share life, vulnerability with each other. 

to our great surprise + delight: all said yes. 

a few things sunday suppers has taught me: 

--community is worth it. times a million. the care, attention, love i've felt from this group is almost unlike anything. safe friendships might be one of God's greatest gifts. 

--community is hard. almost every sunday afternoon, i thought about canceling. i'm tired from leading sunday morning, and really just want to sit alone on the couch watching tv. but, ALWAYS, the effort, the pushing through, the showing up is worth it. 

--community can't look the same for everyone. in the past, i often couldn't see how i fit into a traditional church small group, and, i think because of this, i avoided participating in any type of formal community. but, creating an experience that better fit me {cooking, entertaining} was the missing piece i needed in moving towards a regular, meeting group of friends.  

--community involves give + take. i'm a good GIVER. but, TAKING? oh no. and not because, i'm a wonderfully self-LESS person. but, because giving to others generally protects myself. it actually can be quite self-ISH. if i never have to open myself up to receiving love, wisdom, care -- i'm protected from ever experiencing deep pain. this summer, the group has not allowed me to ONLY be a giver. they expect me to show up, share, trust, and receive from them. a gift. a re-training for this pastor. 

in fact, last week, kelly + i shared something painful that happened to us this summer. something we couldn't share with the group for a variety of reasons. after we told them the details, we apologized to the group for not telling them sooner, not trusting they'd be able to handle our pain, or guide us as we healed. it was a moment i'll never forget: they shared our tears, were gentle in their words back to us, and reminded us, as lovingly as possible, to never do that again.

all the good stuff. 

so now, summer's ending, of which i DID NOT give permission for, and the group's figuring out what's next. we've decided to continue on a bit longer, going the same way we've been going, because of course you know, finding rich community takes time. it might not always look like this, but we're committed to each other and journeying along the road of friendship together. 

full, full heart. 

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