Over the years, I have learned that communication in as many forms as possible helps us all stay on the same page. As a result, I’ve started writing letters here and there in order to talk in detail about what’s happening at the Village. Here’s one of them.
2012 has been a really good year so far. God has graciously continued transforming us into His likeness, our leaders have stepped into new roles, our community has grown in number, and we’ve sent a pastor on sabbatical. As we come to the end of summer, however, the heat seems to be unusually oppressive. I am looking forward to the fall!
This fall, we’re starting a new sermon series on the Village basics. We’ll discuss the gospel, the six ways of community life, Village values, etc. This is a good way to remind us all of our mission. But because many of us are new to the Village, this is also an opportunity to explore the identity of this faith community, what makes the Village unique, and what our particular mission is among the people of God. The fall is also a fun time at the Village because of events which are approaching. We’re heading toward the Belonging Service, our annual membership celebration. The Soup Supper, which happens the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is our feast where people bring their best soups, breads, and desserts. Benji & Susan’s Hot Drink Special arrives in December to subject us all to some horrific, Christmassy, “B” movie and the drinking of tasty hot beverages around a fire. This fall we will also introduce a "Girl's Club" for pre-teen and teenage girls. It will meet on a bi-monthly basis and include Bible discussion and fun activities.
Drumming Circles have always been an integral part of the Village Community. If you are new to the Village, a Drumming Circle is simply a congregational meeting where we pull out all the drums and beat on them (to legitimate the name) and then discuss matters important to the life of our church. In recent times, the Drumming Circle has been used for the training and discipleship of our core community and for the casting of vision for the next branch of our journey together. While traditionally, Drumming Circle has met on Friday nights, this year we will try something new. We will have a Saturday Drumming Circle with childcare provided. The content of this meeting will connect to what's happening at our Sunday Vespers Service the next evening. A date for this will be announced soon.
The Village has always functioned in a unique way. Structurally, we strive to maintain a corporate life which is both fixed and organic, with our fixed structures working to encourage and support the organic life of the community and to underpin some disciplines for spiritual growth. Our fixed social structures consist of Vespers (our Sunday night service), Monastic Communities, Pilgrim Groups and Leadership Team. Each of these is designed to foster more organic expressions of relationship. For example, Monastic Communities, which consist of men, women and children, gather on a monthly basis to practice life together. These times may be awkward and uncomfortable, but they push people together who may not have much in common in order to learn the way of Jesus together, reach out in mission, and hopefully connect in more natural ways outside of the group. Our Pilgrim Groups are designed to regularly bring men or women together around Scripture, prayer, and intentional conversation re: our sin in an effort to help each other move toward Jesus. If you are already in a Monastic Community and Pilgrim Group, I encourage you to stay connected to these as we head into the fall. The groups as they stand will continue through May of 2013 and will break for summer next year. Susan and I are currently hunkered down in my mom's air conditioned office, writing a Bible study on Isaiah 61 which these groups will study and discuss soon.
Another unusual aspect of the Village is that although we are small, we operate as though we were a larger church. There are well-organized administration, leadership training, small groups, large groups, nursery, child education, meal preparation, and band systems in place, as well as an active website, downloadable sermons and music, etc. These arise in part from the belief that it's a good idea to reinvent the wheel even when this re-invention isn't absolutely necessary and from the belief that everyone's hearty participation is valuable and important in order for the community to thrive. These beliefs lived out give the different facets of the Village a rich authenticity and a genuinely personal touch. Volunteering is one of the keys to making all of these things successful. There are multiple areas where you can volunteer at the Village. All Villagers are asked to sign up for five volunteer slots every 9-month period in the following areas: nursery (0-3), kidVespers (4-8), or midKid (9-14) as a teacher or helper (we encourage parents to work with the age group of their own kids). If you are uncomfortable or feel incapable of helping with child education, we would ask that you help by cooking or assisting a cook for Sunday meal preparation and clean-up or by assisting with the janitorial care of the building.
In a small church like the Village, money is always going to be something we need to talk about. It costs money to feed everyone and to pay for utilities, mortgage, and salaries. Over the years, God has been very gracious to us. He has always provided for our financial needs, often from outside donors who've been willing to make up our shortfalls. When we first moved into the building, we spent a year talking about what it would look like to mature into mission. One of the key points in that maturing process was to become self-supporting. At this point, our giving is at 6900 and our budget is 8000. Please spend some time praying and consider what God is calling you to give at the Village in order to support the ministry moving forward.