Welcome to the spacious place

Ive been thinking a lot about the intersections of place, people and relationship. I am concerned in FX we have stopped wrestling with the WHY of we do what we do, and what kind of space are we seeking to create. It can too easily become like friendship evangelism where we make friends or create places to gather but are dehumanising because they approach people as a commodity to be banked. A friend told a story of guy who became friends with someone from a local church, they did stuff together, got to know each other, their friendship grew and over time this guy shared his faith. The friend came to faith and started to get active in the church, and after a while he joined an evangelism course. The course ran a session on friendship evangelism and he recognised that this was what had happened to him and that day he left the faith. Ill blog at some point how the four values of FXs Missional, Contextual, Ecclesial and Formational help us find a different type of approach.

A while back I created a formula People + Place x Relationship = Space. I wanted to revisit this in the light of this quote I came across from Barbara Glasson below. I wanted to respond with something practical about how we reconfigure our gathering spaces, but I was drawn back to feelings of spaciousness of the community that emerged around Flow. We tend to orientate our thinking around space as the place that we control, our events, our churches our homes, when I used that formula it was around being in the places with others, encountering people building real relationship that created a space for stuff to happen that was beyond my control or a particular place, it was a space in which we all just flowed. So I am afraid I have ditched the practical and gone with the flow, and just offer a few thoughts that I hope helps you encounter the spaciousness we felt. Do let me know.

“Our church instinct tends to want to gather people in and keep them. Postmodern society tends to configure gathering in a different way. People are wary of being trapped. They need to see their exits.”

Our life together was a space made up of many different places, this spaciousness of many places gave a newly discovered opportunity to be yourself, to find a new you, and rediscover in whose likeness we are made. There were places to be and people to see, not from a rushed consumption, but from a deeper desire to be in the spaciousness that being together created. Our space that although had its similarities (safe, welcome, friendly open) was always slightly different depending on who turned up at the time, co-creation was embedded in all we did and so spaciousness abounded.

Our space was bigger than the places we met, sometimes a place came with certain boundaries, yet the formula held and the unconditional relational Flow meant even when people felt they couldn’t stay in that place due a boundary they knew thew they weren’t leaving the space, because something other flowed between and beyond us.

The space extended beyond the people, and whist people came and went they still felt part of the space, tied with loose bounds that still draw us together.

Flow was beyond exits, beyond holding, more than gathering, more than meeting it was and always will be a spacious place…

One thought on “Welcome to the spacious place

  1. I was hit by the same thing a few years back when someone from a …different belief system… made friends with us. Even came round at Christmas and gave the kids presents. Then invited us to ‘their church’. Suddenly I smelt a rat. She had become good friends with Anne-Marie though so I was worried to tell AM (that is Mrs G) that I was concerned. Thankfully she felt it to. But I then coined the term of agenda friendship. And its a hard balance…being both evangelist and employed to ‘make believers.’ Always pressure to create numbers rather than share life. What I have found is when I can do things just naturally then things start to happen. And you can’t predict it. It seems its about creating spaces and saying I will be your friend because I want to be your friend. I will talk about Jesus and my own experiences because that’s just what I do…(well I am a bit compulsive about talking about my best friend…i talk about all sorts of friends and experiences so nothing different there). And over time people seem to catch it. And want to know more. Then they start asking for prayer….then they start commenting on facebook posts or whatsapp posts I put up…then they start admitting they are praying for things….then they start using words like ‘worship God’ as someone unexpectedly said to me the other day… I don’t make friends to make them Christians. I make friends because that’s what Jesus did. I tell stories because that’s what Jesus did. I have fun because that’s what Jesus did. I walk with people through life because that’s what Jesus did. I do what Jesus did….because I can’t help it. (though I don’t always get it right!). Great post.

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