Where everybody knows your name . . .

Posted: October 23, 2008 in church, life
Tags: , , , ,

I guess making an allusion like this may show my age a bit, but old men like me are allowed to wax poetic about the good old days once in a while; after all I did turn 28 today.  Don’t you all wish that you had a place like Cheers to go to?  Even if you’re not a drinker, I think the idea that there’s a place where you could go “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.  You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same.  You wanna be where everybody knows Your name.”  It was this wonderful place where people from different walks of life all came together laughing and crying while sharing their lives with eachother.  I think we all have a desire for this kind of community – something beyond ourselves – but finding it is a totally different matter.  I think ideally the church is supposed to be this for people, but I don’t think it often is or at least it hasn’t been in my experience.

A couple decades back I think churches started to realize this too.  Once you get a couple hundred people together at a time you might have a shared activity but it’s not a substitute for shared lives.  With that many people it’s nearly impossible to make many meaningful connections as people generally keep within their own social circles in large groups; it’s a sociological thing.  So the care group/cell group movement started and it worked out well for some people.  Having a small group of a dozen other people to meet, pray, share, and study with gave them the kind of connection and community they were looking for.  What about those of us who care groups don’t work for though?  They’re great for some people, but any time I’ve tried to just make myself fit into a group like that it feels very forced and contrived.  They aren’t people that I know or maybe even have anything in common with but I am instantly expected to be share my deepest thoughts and feelings with them in a bi-weekly meeting.  It’s even more awkward as a pastor because everyone else instantly wants to defer to you and rarely shares difficult around you lest the pastor know they aren’t perfect.  I know I’m not alone in this feeling, as a lot of people – guys especially – don’t look forward to coming to these get togethers even though they need some kind of community to be a part of.

I’ve had that kind of community before when I was in college.  I lived in a dorm with 36 other guys for four years and loved pretty much every moment of it.  It was great to have friends within shouting distance at all times; people you knew honestly cared about you as you did them.  I was never close friends with more than a dozen of them but in a tough time you knew that every guy in that dorm would be there for you.  This isn’t just me being nostalgic again as I have a habit of doing.  This is me coming to the realization that I need a community of real people to be a part of but not knowing where to find it.  People in the church I’m at look at me and treat me differently because I’m a pastor so that doesn’t work very well.  I can’t go to the bars to try to find my own “Cheers” because it would likely leave me without a job as churches frown upon pastors that hang out in bars (I what Jesus thinks of that . . . but that’s another post altogether).  So I’m stuck in the hard place of knowing my need and not knowing anywhere to find a solution.  Facebook, phone calls, blogs, and online gaming are great, but they are no substitute for real face to face community.  So I guess until I find it or someone finds it for me, I’ll just keep trying to help other people find it themselves.

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Comments
  1. Daryl says:

    I always find the best place to start is to get a bunch of guys together and do well, guy things. That’s how the community in the dorm starts and its often how secular community starts as well, so why not do it ourselves. Isn’t that how the “cheers” community started. So grab a football and start playing in your own tackle football game on Saturday afternoons, or get a few xbox’s together and play games late into the night, or get some guns and go skeet shooting (did this awhile back and it was awesome), its not to to difficult to find some activity that a bunch of guys can connect over. This is just step one, but its a fun step.
    Now I need to listen to my own advise and start organizing a poker night.

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  2. Jared says:

    Daryl makes a great point. One thing I have learned over the last while is that guys can’t just sit down and share their feelings like girls can. Whether in a small group setting or going out for coffee one-on-one – us guys struggle with that.
    Guys are do-ers. We need to be doing something, and relationship/community is a bi-product of that. Whether you are out on the golf course and a guy asks how your marriage is doing, or helping someone build a deck you get into the conversation of how do you know God exists while you are swinging a hammer.

    There is another solution for you Ben – move to Trail, B.C.! You too, Daryl!

    /j

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  3. Jen Kramer says:

    I’m so glad you’re writing again. I missed the clackity clack of the keyboard as I drifted off to sleep at night. It was a lullaby.

    Like

  4. brad says:

    Benyaman – it’s good to see you on the world wide web. I like your writing and I think you’re gifted. Writing on your blog will keep you disciplined and it will force you to stay fresh and churn those creative juices.

    It’s nice to have you back.

    Like

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