Last night my small group was at my house until nearly 11 PM, and my co-leader didn't leave until 11:40. We had wrapped up the group around 9:00, but as people sat around the circle chatting, two of the group members began to talk about a play they had seen over the weekend, "A Bright New Boise." As they related the story, it paints a picture of Evangelical Christians as people who disengage from the world because they're really only concerned about getting to Heaven.
This began a conversation about how well (or not) this stereotype represents the American Church, role of faith and works, the Church's response to homosexuality, the need to serve the poor, the tendency for a purely social gospel to replace the Gospel, the need to love others, whether ongoing sin will cause someone who believes in Jesus to go to hell, the problems with faith as our parents practiced it, the blind spots of our generation of Christians, and the perception of the Church by those who are not a part of it.
As I sat there listening and participating, there was a moment when I remembered and rediscovered why I do what I do, why I lead small groups, why I help others organize and lead small groups. I help create environments where conversations like this can happen. I help create environments where people can wrestle with their faith, where they can figure out what it means to live out their faith, where they can disagree and still walk away as friends.
It was a rich conversation. It was the sort of conversation that is worth its weight in gold. The feeling is much the same feeling as giving your all on the soccer field or the basketball court with a team of friends. It was challenging, draining, and invigorating all at the same time.
It was discipleship. It was community. It was theology.
It was life-giving.
The challenge now is to make sure it translates into life-change.