As a leader of a community following God in the way of Jesus, this concept of “hanging out” comes with so many mixed feelings. For me personally, it is a wonderfully exciting thing and filled with meaning, but I better explain the other side first. Perhaps it just my own insecurities of what people think I am doing, but I wonder why a church would ever support someone who just hangs out with people. Perhaps it seems to some that I am just making friends and calling that ministry. Perhaps it seems that we are just sitting around drinking coffee, a beer, playing games, or watching a movie. Where is the worth in this? Isn’t leadership supposed to be focused on saving souls (evangelical cynicism… sorry), getting people into the church, helping people feel good about life or maybe give money, helping them grow spiritually, or maybe just letting them know that the church really is there for them. These things don’t come to mind when I tell people that for the most part, I am simply committed to “hanging out” with people. It doesn’t seem purposeful enough.
My own excitement with hanging out stems from the idea that yes, all of those things that I mentioned above are wonderful, but things of real meaning, all those things above, don’t happen without a grounding in a trusting relationship. At the core of hanging out is a desire to build trust and develop relationships. This, I think, should be at the core of how we do what we are called to do… that is, BE Jesus to the world. We do this through relationships. God has created us in his image, has he not? And isn’t his image, at the core, a relationship (the Trinity)? Love, sacrifice, peace, forgiveness, serving… all connected to relationship.
So as I continue on with my already fuzzy defined ministry of my life, I am beginning to really feel as though the classical sense of what a “pastor” is does not have to be the case. Do I want to be forced into busyness and stretched-thin-ness so that I cannot just hang out with people? What does it mean for me to be a leader… a spiritual leader, a leader that looks like Jesus…? How do I really make a difference with people in their lives? I would have to say I would rather show up at their house and sit on their couch than get them to show up and sit in a pew. I would probably rather spend 5 bucks and two hours over a good cup of coffee than to “donate” 25 bucks to a random nonprofit. I would rather have someone come over and watch a movie or play a game than hope that they “discover God” in “Sunday school.” Church is not in a building. Community, and relationship, and coffee, and beers… these are all church. God’s Spirit is here.