This is a continuation on the series What We Do. In these blog post we are taking some of our most important concepts and tracking them through all the way to day to day actions. Today I am taking on what I call the Identity Markers. These are three concepts that we have discerned as critical to our culture. We use these three markers as a litmus test to help us decide what to say "yes" to and when to say "no". I will describe them one at a time updating and re-posting until they are all three described.
They are community, abundance, joyfulness. (in that order)
Community: SoCe Life will cultivate relationship through prayer, hospitality, and justice.
SoCe Life was birthed from community. We did not plan to start a non-profit we just wanted to live more honestly in our faith and found community was a good venue for that work. From the beginning our community has lived by a rule of life which gives us a common reference point for understanding the world.
First we pray. Prayer allows us to have an openness to who God is and to what is happening within our own souls. We pray together weekly during our community times and we pray daily on our own. Often we will choose similar prayer forms to practice together while apart. Our prayers are listening prayers. They are not the free form extemporaneous prayer you hear in church on Sunday morning. They are prayers that use scripture, art, journaling, breathing patterns, and other tools to guide us toward the Holy Spirit's always speaking voice.
Prayer opens us up to hospitality. By understanding what God is already doing through the Holy Spirit we grow in our ability to give and receive hospitality. Hospitality is a moment of resourcefulness. Both offering the resources that we bring and receiving the resources of others. As trained middle class suburbanites receiving is often the bigger challenge for many in our community. Hospitality happens daily in SoCe Life when we share our community lawn mower, get rides from one another, and share meals together. Through hospitality we begin to know and understand each other as children of God.
Hospitality leads to justice. In SoCe we describe justice as responding to the things we learned in prayer and hospitality. If we learn that God is loving and that a neighbor is lonely; than Justice is being a companion to the lonely. Justice, as a response, prevents us from assuming that we know what people need to be whole. To properly do justice is to fulfill the dreams of God and the dreams of those who are marginalized. That requires those of us with privilege to step away from our desire to "fix" people.
Community is God's way. God is communal as Parent, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. We strive to model God's communal nature by living in community around prayer, hospitality, and justice.
So what do we do? We live in community by praying together, sharing our resources with hospitality, and responding with acts of justice informed by what we learn about God and neighbor.
Abundance: SoCe Life will cultivate abundance by assuming all people have something to offer and referring needs based activity to other organizations.
Our bent toward abundance is informed by Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). ABCD was discovered by John McNight at Northwestern University in the '80's. It is a model that defines an approach to working in the neighborhood through the lens of abundance. You can learn about ABCD at abcdinstitute.org or in McKnights book the Abundant Community.
Our practice of abundance informs our relationships with neighbors, partner organizations, and each other. Abundance allows us to confidently be open with each other about our desires, discomforts, and emotions. It helps us explore possibilities that we did not think possible when clouded by scarcity. And finally it helps us maintain an attitude of optimism even when things get tough.
So what do we do? We practice abundance by assuming abundance in every relationship. That means interviewing people of every walk of life to discover what gifts they might share for the greater good. When we add them to our network they become connected to a community of people where they can share their gifts and experience wholeness.
Joyfulness: SoCe Life will cultivate joy by experiencing the Holy Spirit with child-like faith and being free to fail.