On Thursday morning we concluded the immersion experience and brought this first experiment in intentional community and ABCD to an end. The morning was mostly spent on reflections and feedback from the students regarding the immersion, but we did also manage to fit in an hour of Elaine’s teaching, which was fantastic! She talked about the steps a person can take to form an intentional community and a house church, based on her own experiences as well as the work of her students. The model of church she is seeing emerge is not like the model most of us grew up with (the model of having a full-time pastor with staff who are producing programs for the church members to consume) but instead the model she is seeing involves shared leadership among lay-people and clergy, whereby everyone involved is able to learn and grow together as apprentices of Jesus while serving one another. You can learn more about this model by reading the book she co-authored with Larry Duggins entitled, Missional. Monastic. Mainline.
I mentioned that we spent most of the morning reflecting on the week, and once again the students did great work. They were able to give us insight into the elements of the week that were most helpful to them as well as the aspects of the week that were most challenging (and beneficial), not to mention a few changes that would be very helpful.
We ended our time together with a time of worship and a blessing to send us from this place to serve in the world. As I looked around the room during that time of worship I was so grateful for these students, who had given up a week of their summer break to come and be a part of something that could hardly be described. They embraced all the uncertainty without flinching. They tolerated various inconveniences (like 6-12 people sharing one bathroom). And they faced their own fears, like knocking on the doors of total strangers and asking for an interview! I see tremendous faith in what they did this week, and their faithfulness encourages me as I consider the future.
While this is the end of the immersion, it is only the beginning of the work of SoCe Life. Stay tuned for more information as we continue to work inside the SoCe neighborhood and as we connect with folks from different organizations all around the country--it will be an adventure!
I will close with the words of blessing we offered one another during the closing worship. May they be true for us all:
As you go from this place,
May God the Creator bless you.
May God the Son walk with you.
May God the Spirit lead your life with love. Amen.