A soulful village…that’s how our church coach Paul Nixon referred to our congregation in the midst of the focus groups we had over the past weekend. Megan, our Leadership Team chair and I, as pastor, were a part of all four focus groups—three in a row on Saturday. I admit that I was somewhat anxious as we approached the day. The topics for each group were clear. They grew out of the intensive and extensive work we have been doing over the last couple of years. I know that some have had questions about the direction we are taking. There have been missteps, and there have been differences of opinions, so I inwardly took a deep breath waiting to hear what folks are thinking.
It ended up being an amazing experience. At Paul’s direction, we had invited a mix of “investeds” and “generalists” to each focus group. We heard from the heads and hearts of people who are seeking “to be and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We admitted that ours is probably a somewhat introverted and heady group of members. Even some of us who are extraverts tend to the shy side. Thus we realize that we have some work to do there.
It was in the third group of the day, I think, that Paul first used the term “soulful village” as we talked about our children’s ministries. I felt a sudden warming of my heart. It was more than an “aha” moment; it was a pouring out of blessing. While I had felt encouraged and hopeful in the earlier groups, I felt God’s smile of love and affection for this diverse mix of persons, of which I am a part.
I invite you to take a moment to consider just what it means to be a “soulful village” here in the busy, hectic, skeptical environs of the twenty-first century DMV. What is it to be a village? What is it to be soulful? After you think about it for a bit, take some time to rest with the image of a village that is soulful. What other images come to mind? What gifts do we bring to each other and to our community?
Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.