Monday, October 13, 2008

we now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

this is in response to the question i posed a couple of months ago: WHAT NOW?! and since, it is a question i have heard echoed in several places.

most or many of you who come here on a moderately regular basis may not know this, but this blog was originally started to keep people up to date with the goings on of the things in my physical realm, as they pertain to what it is i feel god has for me to do. even the address of this blog reflects it. "somethingelsejtp" the J.T.P. actually stands for "join the party." at the time, i was just beginning to recognize the truth that tony campolo pointed out in his book of the same name "the kingdom of god is a party." this party is happening, all the time, in the here and now. and we're all of part of it, if we would only recognize.

i didn't know what else to do, but god kept reassuring me that this was the direction he wanted me to go, so we just began inviting people over for games and enjoyment and community. as this began to grow, my faith continued to grow as the moments were many that just, i don't know, helped me to believe. to believe that what i was doing was signifigant albeit completely different than what i had been taught. and in many ways, downright "blasphemous" and "heretical" against the mothership. (organized church)

for the next several months after, however, began a process in which the leadership of my CLB began to continually chip away and break me down. it was so hard. fighting near daily with the voices in my head screaming at me to "get back in line!" and "stop this foolishness that will lead you and all these people to hell!" but i couldn't stop. i was compelled. and it was growing. then came the time when the leadership's words began to cut, and cut deep. they actually began to cut the cords of my faith. in the end, after they had completely beat me and bruised me and crushed my faith, they left me for dead in an alley and have never come back since. which is good. but it left me with a lot of rehab and spiritual therapy that needed to happen before i could go on.

finally, i feel like i can do that. we have been having people over about once a month since. this is not to belittle that at all. but i think it's time to be a little more intentional about it again. to believe that what goes on here fulfills a need that just isn't being met for a great percentage of young people in a traditional church setting. and don't let me mislead you here. what happens here is not "house church" as so many would understand it. we don't have a "song time" or a "sermon time" or pre-planned discussions of a particular chapter of the bible or topic. we just invite people, they come, and we enjoy each other, whatever happens. we utilize games as a springboard for social interation and allow people to be themselves, whoever they are right now.

we are typically a motley bunch. but i love the fact that at one point or another, uproarious laughter generally happens. we DO have music going constantly, and there have been times where people have been moved to sing songs that play as a group. (i'll never forget the night that we all stopped what we were doing and sang "fuck her gently" by tenacious D. it was moving.) we have food and snacks. everyone generally brings a little something to throw in. and that's not to mention, that naturally, as a matter of course, god, and these young folks thoughts on god and the world, generally come up and get discussed.

which, if i'm not mistaking, has all the elements of a "classic church service." just not in any way that you would recognize it unless you were looking with inward eyes and not outward judgements. but even then, that's not what it's about. that's not my goal, nor do i feel like it should be. whenever i feel like i should be gearing up to "make this a church," things began to dim. they grow brighter when i say, "fuck it. the only thing i have been instructed to do is invite people over and party with them." because that's the truth. i couldn't believe it when i got my orders from the general, but this is where i've been stationed. and i should be at my post.

so, with full permission from guests to post these pictures, here is the night we had saturday. (i actually passed the camera around so we could record everyone's perspective) just a few people this time. one who has been around since the beginning, tami, and her boyfriend jake, and their good friend mandy. we played star wars monopoly for the first time in like a decade. and it was a very strange game like none other i have played before. the negotiations were much more complex than any i have witnessed before in said game. in fact, i captured one deal on film below, in which you see jake and erin embroiled in negotiations that lasted near 15 minutes. at the end of the deal, erin agreed to trade jake the last property he needed for a monopoly in exchange for (get this): cash, immunity from rent when she landed on that one space, and 50% of the proceeds from the other players who landed on the space. damn. now THAT'S negotiating! (there are a couple of pictures where i left the shutter open and you can see jake looking from erin, to his stuff, and back again. very cool.)

continue to think/pray about us. who knows where this is going, but it's about damn time we start heading that way again.


Erin said...

And I always thought T was your middle initial. I really need to read people's archives more.

I'm glad you are having a good time with this "not church" business. I am hoping something similar will come around for us some day. I really think the idea of "party" is more along the lines of what Jesus meant.

But did you guys REALLY sing that song? Please tell me you're kidding.

Sue said...

So you actually OWN one of those t-shirts. Heh!!

I TOTALLY TOTALLY get it, Jon, how hard it is to just walk into the things that whatever that part of you is that gets deformed by the IC is screamin, "This is not enough! This is not enough!"

But fuck dude, it's enough. Awesome.

jON said...

here is a perfect example of your axiom, erin, that the posts you put the most work into get the least response. pictures, endless paragraphs, vulnerable sharing...

my middle initial is not T. it's actually J. which stands for Jay. and i am having a good time with this "not church" business. its still just hard to believe that this is what god actually wants from me. to all "churchy" observances, i'm just a "backslidden guy who's taking the lord's name in vain to cover myself and mislead others." and believe me, there are some days where i don't have the strength and those "what-ifs" come in and cut me with their rusty razors.

but then there are other moments, like 6 weeks ago when one of the youngsters noted "you guys have a ghost in your place. it always seems to be making really cool coincidences happen." my neice, tessa, and i just look at each other and smiled. its good to see people are reaching these sorts of conclusions as a natural matter of course. i didn't feel lead at the time, but i definitely filed it away for a future conversation that i know is coming some day. when the time is right.

yes, i DO own one of those t-shirts. and we DID sing "fuck her gently" by tenacious D. it was a great moment. it just came on as a matter of curse in the cd player on random, and everyone just kind of stopped what they were doing and started singing it together. with no fear, no embarassment, we all just joined in unison and had a wonderful time singing together.

you just don't get moments like that often, you know?

Erin said...

I'm sorry, Jon, but if you sing songs like THAT at your worship services, I just don't think I can associate with you anymore.

(Kidding, kidding...)