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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Having a party

The other day as I pulled up into my usual parking area at my regular hangout, one of the newer cooks was taking a cigarette break. As I got out of my car he nodded towards it, "Nice," he said. I nodded thanks and asked him his name (after all, it seems like a good idea to be on a first name basis with the guy who will cook most of your food)? He told me, and then asked if I was the owner of his new place of employment? No, I said. "Oh," he mused,"you just like to party." I laughed and we walked in together as new friends.

I do like to party. Now, I am not of the celebrity party status, but there is nothing better than a good old fashioned party, and I believe congregations should be known as party houses as much as anything. Parties that are available to everyone and free are about the greatest witness to the love of God I know.

When did church lose its identity as a party place? Why are we so serious about stuff all the time? Why don't we relax at church, unwind, have a few beers or whatever and share in life? Why isn't that known as church? We've lost a lot of our understanding of a God who is life when we refuse to let life into our churches and congregations.

Every now and then a well-intentioned person will tell me a church has to be "run like a business." Why? Why can't a church be run like a party? Why does a church have to have a budget or balanced books or marketing schemes? Why can't a church just have some attendants, some cooks, some stewards, a few musicians and storytellers and call it a day?

Parties raise money (ask any organization that does banquets as fundraisers or any high school graduate), so I am not thinking we lose much if we shift our congregational identity to a party house from a boring house of serious folk.

Now, of course, if you are a regular participant in the life of a local congregation you already think of your place as a party house. You have dinners, potlucks, coffee and cookies after worship, all kinds of celebrations...but the people I meet--like my cook--don't think of it that way. Why not?

Why do people think of church as boring, serious, and staid when the people in it generally have fun (or try to have fun?) Other than the booze (and up here at least all parties have booze it seems...there is something interesting about that for another blog) why don't parties at your local church generate the same raves as a band at your local bar? Why isn't worshiping God as exciting as listening to music in a dark room. (We don't allow smoking indoors here anymore, so, there are no "smoke-filled blues clubs" up here.) How come when Christians celebrate the God of Christ Jesus whose death and resurrection in the power of the Spirit brings freedom and life to all who encounter it, people think we are boring? Or, at least, that we don't know how to "party?"

We have a real image problem folks...because no one ever chastised Jesus for being "too serious." In fact, they thought he partied too much...

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.