As I continue to try and help people understand some of the values that 801South will hope to exhibit, the value which may be of most importance is that of relationships driving the ministry. You have heard me say (many times) that life is about people and people are about relationships.
One of the most brilliant concepts I have learned from Brian Zehr goes like this:
Programs are Tools.
These three simple statements are very helpful in developing a model for ministry, especially one in which you hope to reach young adults between the ages of 16 and 40. I am fully convinced that those labeled as Millennials–or Mosaics–(who, by the way, hate to be labeled) are desperate for deep, meaningful relationship. There may be several reasons for this hunger. Perhaps they have seen relationships around them crumble throughout their lives.
I know that young people love to be entertained, but we are not fooled by Hollywood. We understand entertainment as the glossy fantasy that it is and when we turn to the real world, we hope to witness and experience deep relationships, unlike those on the big screen. Unfortunately, for many in this generational category, many of us have failed to find these relationships around us. Parents are divorced, friends are self-indulgent and too busy, family is squabbling and disconnected.
So where do we turn? Those forums that offer the most genuine and deepest opportunity to be in relationship will win. There are, however, some things that we must sacrifice for the sake of relationship. The first thing that we must push past is our desire to be right. If our goal is to be right, then we will have that opportunity and, at the end of the day, we will be right AND alone. Sometimes we have to sacrifice being right for the sake of relationship.
Not making sure that we are right is a tough pill for the church to swallow, because we often see ourselves as the keeper of right. We must learn to let go of this self-appointment. We do not own truth. We may know truth, but we do not own it. Truth is truth. For example, what if a person comes into our midst and claims, “God does not exist.” Does one stating this claim make it so? Of course not. God is God no matter what you or I say. So we have to learn how to not be offended at worst, uncomfortable as best, when young people’s views differ from the norm with which we have become comfortable. There will be time to focus on truth, but we have to start with relationship; which then provides the fertile soil for truth to be planted.
Another key sacrifice to be made so that relationships drive is the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. There is no place for field of dreams in today’s culture. Someone has already built it better, cooler, faster, louder, and brighter, and everyone has access to it in their front pocket. Whatever you offer is automatically compared to the best in the world, rather than what is down the street, thanks to the internet. Rather than focusing on brick and mortar (which is important and should be done with well informed inspiration) or new programs/ events (which are important and should be done with well informed inspiration) the focus should be on opportunities for relationships to be initiated, developed, cultivated, and matured.
801South will focus on relationship–vertical and horizontal–to drive the ministries. The best model for relationship is that of small groups, but the key is to create systems that allow small groups to multiply AND remain small. This will be an exciting opportunity within 801South: for us to develop new modes of building relationships and then tweaking these modes as we move forward.
I am so excited to see how relationships continue to form–both vertical when people become (re)connected with their Creator and horizontal as we are intentional about people connecting with each other.
I am also excited about hearing how you hope 801South will allow relationships to drive. What are your ideas for how we can best develop new relationships and be intentional to experience a maturation of relationships? If you have thoughts, especially as a young person, please leave a comment/reply under this post or find another way to get it touch with me. I will be happy to buy you lunch or a cup of coffee so I can hear your ideas.