I was talking this morning to a good friend about community (because that’s what nerds like us talk about on a Friday morning) and this church that I’m helping grow.
The word ‘community’ seems so… Epic. So large.
Any of us who’ve ever wanted to grow something amazing have gotten caught up in this. Not that it’s evil. I’d even say it’s a beautiful thing — if you have something good and positive and life affirming to share with the world — to want to get it out to as many people as possible.
And so in my boat, I have these visions of Sunday morning filling up with thousands of people and families from all colors, shapes, sizes and from all walks of life. The vision in my mind right now is big, big, big.
But it’s disheartening because right now, it’s small, small, small. We haven’t even opened yet. Although we have some incredible people behind this, until it comes into a form and has a physical space with butts in seats (yes, virtual butts in seats live streaming count too), it’s merely an idea.
However, like my friend and I were chatting about this morning — there’s beauty in this smallness.
When it comes to the communal love of spirit, all it takes is a table.
This is where early Christianity started (and no, you don’t have to consider yourself a Christian to glean something from this — it’s an inherently human concept). It was focused, not on the iron-fisted religion of old, but on sacrificial love.
It centered around the agape feast. On a table with some people around it. Bread and wine was provided. They made sure everyone around it was taken care of. And they did life together.
I write this as a reminder to myself (and, in part, to you, in the context of your communal life) to keep the vision of the agape feast present. This is why we’re focusing this church, not around an epic Sunday (although there will definitely be one), but around creating a number of smaller circles that are made up of between 5–10 people who walk similar paths (example: the ‘young professionals circle’, the ‘single dad circle’, etc.) to pray and commune together.
I’m a believer that, no matter how ‘epic’ the Sunday service is, it should be the smallest part of church. The biggest part of church is the life that happens outside of Sunday. Our practice. Our community. Those we eat with, pray with, and love with (hey, that sounds like a fantastic title of a book).
It’s how I’ve approached my work here on this blog from the start: Small posts. Writing for the few at this digital table. One-on-one conversations…
This is how a community grows. By keeping it epically small. One agape feast at a time.
As I sink into this eternal moment, I realize how vital community is to my life as a human.
The tribal fire is in my blood.
In my bones.
In my DNA.
And in my soul.
But the idea of community can be overwhelming. Do I need 10,000 followers to build a community? Do I need to have a huge party to have community? That’s so many people.
However, I know it isn’t necessary. Jesus only had 12:)
The agape feast happens around a table between a handful of people. This is community.
And so even if I consider myself to be the biggest introvert in the world — or if I consider myself to be the life of the party — I know that my soul can handle an agape feast.
I open myself to this idea. I see how my spirit would beautifully intermingle with those of others in a divine dance around this size of a table. I see how all of us would grow around a tribal fire of this capacity.
In today’s digitally-connected world, we’ve grown more lonely. Perhaps it’s because we’ve gone too big. Maybe we’ve placed too much weight on our egos that have urged us towards more, more, more — even if we know it isn’t a right fit for the human soul.
And so today, I think small. I’m open to the smallness of community. Because I know that enough of these agape feasts may provide the fuel to reignite the world and cast loneliness out of our experience in a big way.
It all starts with me.
I’d better start setting that table.
And so it is.