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.
5 thoughts on “Spirituality of “Hanging out””
It’s always amazing to me that I get paid for this!! If you call it “networking”, then it’s more socially acceptable.
Corey… I must say that if I am to be true to who God has made me to be, I must always be doing this kind of thing. Unfortunately, it is up to others to decide whether or not there is enough value in this kind of thing to pay me for it. Personally, I think there is incredible value in it, and if a church really wants to maximize it’s impact in the world, it will support it’s leaders to do mostly what they are made to do. Then we can ALL say, “It’s amazing that we get paid for this!!”
Hey Nate, I have been enjoying your blogs. Our society is so cynical and mis trustful, that you really have to spend time with people, and be absolutely real with people. The word “church” so often denotes to people an affiliation with politics, or a stand on some issue, and it is interesting to me that Jesus never allowed himself to be dragged into the politics of his time. If you show people love and acceptance first, then let God change people in the manner and timing he has for them it seems to me to be more genuine. The best relationships I have forged have taken a long time to build. Great stuff, keep it up.
I would definitely encourage you to keep it up. After seven years, you wouldn’t believe how many Caribou Coffee employees/customers attend our church!
I am convinced we need to embody our faith and our ministry, I appreciate the “incarnational” approach that you are using. And I am sure that there are many who don’t see the value in building relationships, but in the end, that is where we can make a difference. Worship is a must for the church, but relationships change lives.