Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bellythink: Stability's Arch Enemy

Currently, there is only one Veritasian who's still a university student and will be graduating in December. Quite frankly, the fact that there aren't any students (or won't be in the near future) means a several things: one, our community is coming of age; two, our outreach into the student population has waned a bit; and, three, it reflects a bit of the direction our community has taken.

Part of this coming of age is begging a few questions as well. Who are we? How are we to grow? What are we supposed to be doing? We are asking questions that even challenge many of the ways I've conceptualized about what it means to be the Church.

We are nonetheless primarily a church of young adults. Many of these have graduated and some have moved on to other parts of the country and world. Some of these still track with us.

Now some are staying in the area and getting jobs and buying houses. This has been a long time coming when you are intending on sustaining a church plant amongst primarily students, as we had purposed when we arrived in 2000.

For us, there are some Kingdom issues that are taking on new light. It is heartening to see us starting careers here in the area and buying houses and thinking about staying here and serving God in our "hereness." This is a phase I think that bodes well for us as a church because I believe God is faithful when we embed ourselves for the long haul.

This is why stability is becoming more of a meaty issue for that can truly be embodied in tangible ways that reflect back into the community at large. This means we are at a place of seeing how such a vow can impact really what is already taking place in our lives.

Stability embodied in the presence of such cantankerous consumerism as can be found on a campus such as Miami (which is only a microcosm of our culture) may seem ridiculous to townie and student alike. Why would a student want to remain in Oxford, which offers next-to-nothing in terms of the kind of life and income "promised" to the Miami graduate (if not by virtue of its reputation alone)? Jon Stock, in his chapter on stability in Inhabiting the Church notes that we, from an early age, are taught to think "with our belly." He is essentially saying that our appetites virtually drive us into a frenzy of purposeless mobility and restlessness. Our culture dictates that not attending to our desires is to impose disaster to our sense of fulfillment and actualization.

What does it mean to stay together in a city where dispensing/dispatching people is economically and systemically necessary? How does THAT bode for the Church in our context, especially when we devalue attractional modes of being and "doing" church? We shall try and find out.