Monday, June 14, 2010

118. Lurkers and Community

Not everyone who comes among your community is ready to jump in to what you are about and where you are headed. Some people "lurk", that is, they sort of hang around periodically, absorb impressions and observations about the vibe of the community. If you are into community architecting, then this is an important principle to keep in mind. The idea is that you need to have environments that people can be anonymous in. They are not confronted with issues of being "in" or "out" of the community. They need to be able to observe and poke around with no strings attached, no pressure. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay wrote a book called The Tangible Kingdom with the subtitle Creating Incarnational Community. This book hits indirectly at this concept. If you are looking at cultivating environments like this, you need to do it incarnationally, that is, you need to create social environments that are in sync with the cultural rhythms and spaces of your context. The idea behind incarnational community is that people get to have an up close experience of authentic Christian community in real life and space. It is not an artificial environment constructed by church staff or worship teams on your own turf where you get to manipulate the atmosphere. No, incarnational community is about hanging out and doing things, fun things, adventurous things, right where people are, on their turf and on their terms. It is about getting in step with the places and activities that people are already moving in and centering around.

Them mistake we have made in the past about Christian community is that it has to take place around a bible study, sermon, worship service or some official Christian practice.  Jesus is in us, and if this is true, we will incarnate his presence in our every day lives. So what do you naturally like doing? Do it in community and involve other people in it. Not to proselyte folks, but to enjoy life, letting Jesus spill out while you do it. Some things we have been doing at Ikon on this level have been periodic softball games, softball leagues, kickball leagues, camping trips, dinner nights. Not a whole lot of imagination here, but it has become an intentional way to hang out with folks and meet new people.