Several people have recently asked me how the Thingy is doing. It is a tough question to answer. I mean…I love what we are doing. I thrive on it. I look forward to every gathering with great expectation. It is the high point of my week.
For those that don’t know, in January of 2009 Wendy and I joined with a small group of friends to rethink how we do church together. Wanting to start with a clean slate, we spent January through May of 2009 simply digging into Jesus stories. Then in May we began to encourage and equip one another to love God and love people like Jesus does.
Does or did? Like Jesus did(?)…No…Like Jesus does(?!?).
That is always seriously confusing for me. I’m speaking of Jesus’ example given via Scripture of when He was here in physical form on earth walking around…so it should be past tense – “did.” But Jesus is still alive, still loving, still awesome, and still teaching me stuff via the Holy Spirit…so present tense – “does.”
I hates grammar stuff.
Anywho…back to the Thingy.
Like I said, I love what we do; but is it a success? Cory (another dude in the Thingy) and I argue about this routinely. How do you measure the success of a group like ours.
People attending on a given week?
That isn’t really what we are after. If that were our goal we would start trying to rob dying churches. Go for the low hanging fruit you know.
Well that’s not really up to us. That is a conversation between the individual and the Holy Spirit. Sure, on occasion we get the privilege of participating in it; but it would be like McDonalds measuring its success by how badly Burger King is doing. There are a whole range of factors McDonalds has nothing to do with.
Times during the week you love like Jesus?
Talk about an insane thing to track. You would spend your whole day debating whether that was a success of a failure. Trust me. I’ve tried this one. It’s rough.
I could go on and on. This is why Cory claims measuring success is ridiculous venture for us. I think honestly, if we wereto take it seriously, we would need to combine multiple factors. All that to say, I have no numbers for you.
Outside of my personal opinion that it is going great I can point to some of our goals when we started. When we first began we spent a lot of time talking about what we valued and what we hoped to see happen. Here are a few things I think we have done really well:
We didn’t want to define ourselves by what we do. Rather by we wanted to be defined by a shared lifestyle. I think we have achieved that. The structure of our group feels like it is constantly changing. People ask what we do when we gather and when I tell them they can’t help but reply, “So why is this so special to you?” What really what defines us is our passion for imitating Christ in the community. We are obsessed with loving like Jesus. We break it down into humility, forgiveness, service, worship, wonder, and surrender. Our shared passion for loving like Jesus is what holds us together. It is what makes us a team.
We set out to try to rediscover “evangelism.” We were tired of seeing people as targets and measuring our success by whether or not someone prayed a prayer and got baptized (said the magic words and got dipped in the magic water). Were tired of programmed based evangelism and longed to see people saved through relationships via personal conversations. I feel like we are discovering what a life constant available to the Spirit and the intentional in the imitation of Jesus looks like. I feel that we are each living differently than when we began. Each of us are more evangelistic…but in a different way.
We wanted to try taking the idea of every member being a priest specially gifted and empowered for the work of ministry by the Holy Spirit seriously. We wanted our structures (the things we do together) to empower individuals to love like Jesus in the community. I believe we have succeeded in this. We don’t do group projects. We don’t really work together in the community (unless one of us needs man power with something they are doing). We don’t plan big outreaches. Instead we each have our group (or tribe) in the community that we focus on imitating Jesus in. We each have our place in the community that we are intentional in (not to say we aren’t intentional in the rest of our lives; that’s the goal…but we have an area of focus). This focus has caused us to have a minimalistic attitude toward group activity. We come together for encouragement and equipment and then we get back out into the world and go back to work at imitating Jesus. It’s also changed our understanding of leadership. Leadership for us is completely decentralized. When one of us needs to step up and lead, it is done a thing done purely in service to the rest of the group.
Any way. There is a quick glance at how things are going with the Thingy (in my opinion…ask a different team member you will probably get a different answer). It is fantastic. I am so thankful for my crew and how God is using us. It’s been an amazing ride and I know God only has more crazy wild stuff ahead.