the road

faith, jesus, and a conversation on the road

Month: March, 2012

Importance of Fellowship

Last night we once again gathered for Brewing on Belief, but unlike our normal nights we didn’t enter last night with a set topic or conversation starter, apart from the understanding that we were gathering to fellowship with each other.

Often we stress about the importance of having a goal, a necessary outcome, never wanting our students to leave a meeting without having a new insight or a grand revelation. It is easy as a leader to get lost in that pattern and keep pressing students week-in and week-out. However, students are not operating under the same concept of program goals and meeting pre-set expectations. Students must balance school with work, a social life, having or working towards a significant other, not to mention family expectations and building friendships. Because of all these things pulling on students, its remarkable that they put importance on making it out to our programs, but they are also hungry for spiritual fulfillment. Due to this hunger, we want to feed them every chance we can get, but we often focus too much on feeding them what we think they need instead of listening to what they really need.

Last night, a planned fellowship night, truly drove this point home for me. The only “hard” or “probing” question asked last night was asking about potential topics we might discuss following spring break, and even then, the stresses of mid-terms had brains shut off. But even with shut off brains, we had a normal turnout numbers wise. I attribute this to the fact that the students knew that we were offering a safe place (with free chips and dip) to truly turn off and just relax with a group that they see each Wednesday anyways.

When you can utilize it, fellowship provides an opportunity to really connect with students, and the nature of this gathering creates a deepening of the bonds that you have already started to develop. While you can’t expect them to stick with you if you are having only fellowship each week, aligning these nights with the calendar and times when you know students will not be able to be fully present, can be greatly beneficial.

We have built a community at Brewing on Belief, one that is open to the comings and goings of new and returning members, but a community nonetheless that is comfortable joining together each week. And an occasional night of fellowship during the semester only serves to further tighten that sense of community as we discuss new topics like the strength of our March Madness brackets or spring break plans.

Exploring Christian Community with Pixar’s Cars

Last night, our campus ministry leadership team enjoyed a viewing of Pixar’s Cars. It was a much-needed night of relaxation as mid-terms and projects come to a head this week. Our own community was strengthened by the ability to enjoy this movie together and fellowship with each other, and I realized that there is more to this movie than a story about anthropomorphic cars.

Usually Cars is not the first movie people turn to when they want to discuss the teachings of Jesus. That’s too bad however, because there is a lot in the movie that matches well with the lessons learned in the Gospels. Various themes emerge when watching the film, from the dangers of fame and fortune to respect for elders, but one of the most important themes that emerges is the concept of community.

Cars explores community through the adventures of Lightning McQueen and the residents of Radiator Springs. Initially we are presented with a community that is down on its luck, just barely hanging on. Enter the young and brash Lightning McQueen, big-time celebrity, although no one in town could really care about that as he has just destroyed their last shred of viability by destroying the main drag. Through the course of the movie we begin to see changes in both McQueen and the community he has entered.

McQueen begins to understand what it means to be a part of a community, and as he begins to accept his new neighbors, he finds himself with more privileges and even a blossoming romance with a cute little Porsche. As he finishes repairing the road, he has built relationships with all the members of this sleepy little town, even asking for new tires from Luigi and Guido (Ferrari racing fanatics), a paint job from low-rider Ramone, and other help from the various services offered in town. He even has built a relationship with Doc, the paternal and dour head of Radiator Springs.

Unfortunately, McQueen is ripped away from this new life to fulfill his obligations as a race car, and to compete for his life-long dream, a Piston Cup Championship. Even at the track, trying to pump himself up, McQueen keeps drifting off with thoughts of his time at Radiator Springs. Then in his radio he hears the calls from his new crew chief and pit crew, the gang of Radiator Springs has shown up to help one of their own fulfill his life’s dream. Their support cements the importance of community for McQueen, a big change considering just one race earlier he was determined to win it all by himself.

This new community has also taught McQueen what is truly important in life, which we get to see in his selfless forfeit of the title to help the retiring King cross the line in his final race. Unlike the self-obsessed Chick Hicks, who by default has won the title, McQueen is offered the chance to race for King’s sponsors, but true to his new understanding of community, McQueen turns them down to stay loyal to his original (and only) backers. He completes his transformation by getting his new best friend Mater a ride on a helicopter (a life-long dream), and getting Radiator Springs back on the map.

A fun movie with great comedic lines and a touching lesson on community, Cars is a great movie to share with those trying to connect with the concept of Christian community.