This is our community

ideal-church-youth-group-sketch-1000

 

There’s a communal veggie patch, a few cows and chickens, and a fire-pit for sharing meals outdoors. There’s also a stream with a rope swing, a forest to explore, and our own private strip of beach. In my mind, the whole place has a sort of cult-like hippie vibe going on.

Look closely, and you’ll also spot a roller-coaster, a regular smattering of chocolate fountains, wind turbines, a cinema, a supermarket and a library. Of course, this is 2014 and I’m looking at a plan prepared by kids ages 12-15. Gotcha.

Oh, and there it is – the Church right in the middle. A cruciform footprint lends a dash of retro-cool, while a series of tunnels and spiral slides connect levels and outside buildings (including the soundproof indoor component of the youth area).

This was the result of asking half a dozen kids at our church to “draw your ideal church”. Michael and I were talking to the Youth Group about the concept of “church” (what is it, why do we get together as Christians, what are the ‘important’ bits) – and we thought that talking about their ideal notion of church would provide an interesting launchpad.

What fascinated me the most was how a bunch of friendly-but-not-exactly-friends / church-going-but-not-exactly-sold-on-it early teens could take the simple direction to “draw your ideal church” and translate it into something so rich. Whereas I had expected not much more than a building kitted out with beanbags and an xbox, I was in awe of the way they moved so quickly to mapping out a complete ecosystem – a community in which they had little or no necessity to ever leave. When we pushed them on this point, they explained people would need to leave to go to work, or maybe school (*collective groan*) but otherwise they have everything and everyone they need in this community.

“Community” was their word, not ours. That was the way they instantly described what an ideal church would look like. A place where people of all ages live, relax, spend time outdoors and with each other. As we talked, I began to see the vision they had in mind – it took the best bits of home (each family in this community lived in their own house), and combined the best elements of all their experiences of community (time outside, sharing meals together, making music, having fun. Existing).

I believe that “church” simply provided an outlet for them to have that discussion. It said far more to me about their desire for shared experiences and connection than about a particular desire to live alongside the members of our church or each other. What they were describing was the idea of community – the feel of being in connection with others.

Maybe they’re onto something.

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