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Suburbia Church

I live in a suburb. I mean the real deal where kids play in the street, houses are like 20 yards from one another, families have cookouts in their backyards, everybody has a dog and walks that dog sometime between 5 – 7pm each day, and oh yes…there is a homeowners association. You should see it, its straight out of “lower – middle class America” magazine. We even have the appropriate amount of racial and cultural diversity (no discernible majority, its pretty cool.) to make us the poster-child for 21st century suburbia. But i gotta tell you the move I made from Seminaria to Suburbia this past winter has opened my eyes to alot of things.

One thing I have started making connections between is how a lot of times we treat church like our own lil suburbia neighborhood. If we are honest with ourselves, all we often really want to do when we come home is park the car, go inside, and be with our family. We hope the neighbor isnt pulling in at the same time because then we will have to exchange that awkward pleasantry with them we’ve been doing for 4 years now. (My neighbor says “Hey Scott”, I’ve stopped trying to correct him. If you come over & he is out there, just go with it.) We like the neighborhood, certainly don’t want it to change, and would prefer to be left alone for the most part. And the homeowner’s association? Well, its just one of those necessary evils you have to deal with. You pay your dues and hope that buys you enough clout to plant a shrub without causing a community meltdown. As long as they dont raise the dues too much, or come up with any new ideas, we can peacefully co-exist.

I gotta tell you, this sounds alot like how I used to view being a part of a church. I wanted to go on Sunday, sit where I normally sat with the people I came with & HOPE the greeters and people around me didnt notice me because I really didnt want to do the handshake + greeting thing. I liked the music and preaching so I would come back each week. And yes, I even put money in when they collected the offering, you know, paying my dues to keep the church going so the pastors (re: HOA) would be happy. That way we could peacefully co-exist and ultimately God would be happy because I was in church. Pretty good investment if you asked me.

Does this sound in any way familiar to you? So many churches are filled with people who bring this suburbian mindset into the church. So what happens? WE, not everybody else, YOU AND ME help foster an attitude and atmosphere of fake friendship, obligatory tithing, and an isolationist “dont go changing anything” mentality. Check that against what the church originally looked like:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers…all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” Acts 2:42-47

The original church had no concept of isolation or fake friendship, they had genuine fellowship that came from sharing life together. They didnt pay their dues, they looked for any way they could find to give everything they had to help out one another. And they grew in number and were ok with it. They probably had to change to accomodate that growth, but they were so pumped about seeing people come to love Jesus, they didnt really care about the change. Friendship, radical generosity, and a communally entrenched passion for people characterized the early church.

This passage re-shaped me drastically in how I view church. Where do you sit right now? Is church another HOA for you? Are you honestly willing to share life with others the way the original church did? What is keeping you from taking the next step to connecting to a church community maybe in a way you never have before?

If you are at the Summit, an easy step for you could be starting point this Sunday. If you are already a part of the Summit family, maybe its time to step into a SummitLIFE small group where this fellowship im talking about can take place.

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