Tuesday, December 29, 2009

5 Minute Life Story

So Joanna and I have this thing that we call a 5 Minute Life Story. In short, it is when you take the time to listen, I mean really listen, to someone who might otherwise just be overlooked; and in turn they share with you basically their life story.

We have had this happen all sort of places: Grocery stores, the mall, department stores, and tonight it was the movie theater.

My friends and I went to go see Sherlock Holmes, which I highly recommend, and after the movie we went out to get coffee. The problem is that even though we live near a big city, Nashville, we don't live close enough for everything to stay open late, so after trying Starbucks, Boarders, and then even McDonald's, we returned to the movie theater. There is a special going on on Tuesdays that you can buy a small drink and small popcorn for a dollar each! So, it ended up being a perfect place to chill after the movie.

Anyway, after drinking the very small drink rather quickly, and seeing that no one was left in the lobby, I went back to the counter to see if I could get a free refill on my already cheap drink. The girl, Allie, proceeded to refill my drink and as I asked how her night was going and stopped to listen....

I learned that she was not having a very good night. She was sick, and wished that she did not have to work so much, but also she did not wish to go home because it was not a good place either. She said that she wished she was busier so that she did not have time to think about everything that was going on. She could not have been out of high school yet. It is at this time that I wish I could just stop everything in life and listen, as long as she needed....

On the way out, the was another theater employee started to share about his life.

I find it amazing what happens when you actually listen. We have heard about people breaking up, a girl whose boyfriend was too pushy sexually, we got to know a girl in our last town so well that we would go see her volleyball games, and much more.

When was the last time you ask someone how they were doing, and took the time to listen?

You might be amazing what people will tell you.

It all makes me wonder, How often are people actually allowed the place to share? The reason it means so much to them that we listen, is because most people struggle to find someone who will....

Will you listen?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Real Fireplace

In our new apartment, we have a real fireplace. Not one that uses electricity or even gas, but a real wood fireplace. I must admit that I am kind of addicted to making fires. I always have been, but now I have one at my finger tips all the time.

The thing about a real fireplace is that it doesn't just happen. You cannot just click a remote or turn a handle. You have to find wood, find starter sticks and paper or pine cones, you have to poke at it and work on it.

Sometimes it happens really quick and nice, and other times it doesn't even really work at all.

It started me thinking about relationships. Relationships don't just happen (much to Facebook's and Myspace's dismay). They take effort, giving, pain, sacrific, poking, and love. You have to work on them. Much like a gas fireplace, we have tried to replace the hard work of real fire, with an easy substitute; we have replaced real relationships with easy substitutes.

Think about all your relationships.  What are the ones you really work on them? The ones that you truely spend time and effort on?  How much more to they mean to you and probably to them?  This is not just because they are special, but it is because they are real...

I recommend making a fire (in a safe place) sometime, a real fire. See how you have to keep an eye on it, keep working at it. Maybe it will lead you to rethink your relationships...

A story begins...

It seems that so much of our time working on staff at a church is spent trying to produce the "best" church experience.  We worry about what people will say if we do this or that; we wonder if people will like this; we don't try things for fear of running people off; we spend so much time guessing and tiptoeing around...

I feel like if there is one thing in life and in ministry that matters at all it is relationships; relationship with God and relationship with others.  That's it.  Not programs, not buildings, not stuff, but relationships.

What if all of our focus was spent on these relationships?  What would change in our churches?  What would change with how our churches interact with their communities?  Would it be harder or easier?  Would it be more fulfilling or less?  Would it matter?

I don't really know, but I have some guesses, but all I can really do is go out there and live it.  Not in a cliche type of doing it because it is the next best thing in a book, but because it is what I feel called by God to do.

I hope to report back with stories... we will see

In faith, hope and love...