It hosts a country music festival.
Here are some observations about our local festival, Star-Spangled Celebration, and how they apply to Christian community.
Consistency is important. In the 11 years I’ve lived in Richland Center, SSC has taken place the weekend after Father’s Day. It always starts on Thursday afternoon and ends Saturday night. The ending hour has moved from midnight to eleven but, other than that, the event has remained fixed in time and place.
Since Ellen and I moved to Richland Center, the outdoor venue has received rain at some point over the weekend more times than not (I’m thinking 9 out of 11 celebrations). Friday and Saturday seem to be the preferred dates for inclement conditions (which are also the days of the biggest headliners). The weather has often delayed performances. A few years ago, thunderstorms accompanied by high winds caused the cancellation of the last two huge acts.
Passion plays its part. People who love country music make the trip. I’m sure some folks come because of a friend’s passion. He loves Martina McBride. She’s along to make sure it’s just the music.
People schedule in the time …
… are willing to travel …
… and spend money …
… on their passions.
How can we apply these two lessons to building Christian community?
Let’s begin with passion. If we’ve got it, it fuels community. If we don’t, it takes more effort to make less progress which eventually leads to no progress at all. We’re stuck.
We can fuel community with guilt.
We can fuel it with duty.
We can fuel it with pep talks, slogans, and pithy quotes.
And get nowhere.
But let our passions infuse community building and the project moves forward.
So what does passion in community look like?
For my neighbor, passion looks like VBS. She loves the Lord. She loves children. She loves making a difference in our community. That passion has fueled a community of 50+ VBS workers who want to make Jesus known to the children of our small town.
For a young friend, passion looks like 6:00-in-the-morning-prayer time with a group of men. His passion recruits others to join him in bringing God’s truth to those who don’t know the Lord.
In another young friend, passion looks like a ten-day trip to Brazil to hold a wrestling seminar and share the Gospel with young athletes.
Each example involves a community built around a particular passion. A love for Jesus Christ is the common passion among them all, but their individual passions bring others into specific communities.
Consistency gives passion boundaries.
Why do we need boundaries?
Two reasons come to mind.
Boundaries help us prepare. Our church organizes a mission trip every summer. For some, like me, experiencing different cultures is a passion. Knowing the time and place, that it’s consistent, helps me prepare for the event and practice my faith in an area of passion.
Boundaries help us prolong. Let’s be honest. Our passions wax and wane. We start out with excitement but then excitement dissipates and we’re ready to quit. Consistency allows for the low moments in life and provides a way to move through those valleys. Placing our passion for missions, evangelism, VBS, or whatever else within the boundaries of a consistent community keeps us going when our passions would fail us.
I’m curious. What’s a passion you have that fuels community building?
Two men. Two eternal destinies.
One common hope.
My novel can be found at:
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