Good stuff.

Yes, I've also been wrestling with this my whole freakin' life.

-I love the paraspace (third space) idea.

-And the "bespoke, anti-evangelical collaborative pop-up space committed to engaging questions and building depth of community as opposed to breadth of community" is, thankfully, happening all over the place. It's just that these places/spaces don't get the attention. They just wont cuz, like you said, they're micro and not mega and therefore won't garner the attention. Maybe that's a good thing.

-I think Americanized Christianity and it's church are in for a long, turbulent time, but also, as you pointed out, it doesn't mean there can't be some good things that happen.

-It's tricky.

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Brilliant idea, Kell. I hope this plants many seeds and a brings a harvest of joy.

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I am convinced that small is where it's at. Last Sunday at our church we blessed the lead team--there were probably forty of us present for the service--and our pastor remarked that she was so happy we're small so everyone could stand in the space together and have hands on one another (not as sexy as it sounds!). I think, on an individual level, you can act "small" even in big churches, if you do it with intention and focus your areas of action and engagement. But, come Sunday, you sacrifice the beauty of knowing everyone in the room. As far as para-spaces, I strongly believe that church doesn't have to happen at church. Meaning can be found anywhere. But I don't see much that has the depth potential of the church model. And when I say "church model" I mean the call to show up for a disparate group of people, some of whom you have nothing in common with and would never choose as friends, just to act and be present in community. It's great and natural to bond and work and have experiences with people based on a common interest (e.g. presumably those in a church band would have a common interest in music and performing). But that reaches its deeper level when it is added into the mix of a larger group of people. And as far as para-spaces that are less frequent than a Sunday service, again, I think there can be great meaning in things that happen sporadically or infrequently. But can that, ultimately, push one into the deepest soul territory? For me, relationship comes from showing up again and again and again--when I'm tired, irritated, lazy, insecure. I can tell you that almost every struggle I've had with my church has been resolved or put in perspective by going to a Sunday service. By forcing myself to simply show up. Because then, 95% of the time, whatever bad thoughts I've been thinking about certain individuals or the community or some decision that's been made that I don't agree with melts away. Or, more often, it's revealed as just the stupid shit going through my head. So, Sunday is not about the sermon or the music, which sometimes move me, but often times don't. It's just my renewal of a vow to be in relationship with a random bunch of people. I think that anything less frequent would make it easier for me to just check out. So, I guess, for me, the para-spaces like the type you describe (and in which I engage) work because they're complemented by a more traditional church setting. Saying that, I have to acknowledge that I've only ever belonged to small churches. I wonder how belonging to a bigger church might change my feelings on all this. But then there are those things you mentioned...the Eucharist, rituals, etc. These are very powerful. Anyway, I don't know...I guess everyone just needs to figure out how to make this all work. The one thing I think it behooves all of us, in whatever space we're operating in, is to periodically evaluate how comfortable we are. If we're not challenged to stretch in whatever space we're in then we need to figure out how we can change that. In other words, your community should be comfortable...but not too comfortable.

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Very thought-full! Thanks!

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