Sunday, October 30, 2005

Form vs. Function

Y'know.... I tossed and turned for a good two hours in the middle of the night last night composing this in my mind. Do you think I can remember a single bit of it now?

Of course not.

But it has been something I've been processing over the last little while, so let's see if I can string a few thoughts together. I can always embellish later.

Form and Function. In the design world, as I understand it, it is common to state that form must follow (or serve) function. That is... what something looks like must take a back seat to it's purpose. For instance, you wouldn't just stick a big 'ol island in the middle of my kitchen simply because it looks great - because a huge island would wreak havoc with the traffic patterns of the room. It doesn't function.

So here's the thought: If you know your purpose, and your current form doesn't allow for it's expression then chuck the form and find a new one.

Example: I was in on a conversation with the remaining members of the women's retreat committee as they were agonizing about what to do with a retreat they no longer had the resources to pull off. The form no longer served the function. I remember suggesting that they look to the reasons we had a retreat in the first place. It's purpose was to connect women of ALL ages and stages of life, and encourage them to find the fullness of their purpose and life in God. So... the retreat has , for the moment at least, been shelved, and in it's place - a slumber party, plans for "day" events, and plans for dinner table gatherings. I can't speak to the latter ideas, but being part of the slumber party I have to tell you that we had more generational mixing than we ever got at a retreat, because the evening was far less threatening to those who were new. This form serves the function.

What about on a larger scale?

"We exist to build a safe community that invites all peoples to worship Jesus as they embrace a kingdom lifestyle that extends God's justice on the earth." This is the vision statement, or function, of WCV.

I had the first part of this running through my head in the wee hours. " build a safe community..." Actually, I heard "safe place", because that was the old wording. And I thought: "but this isn't a safe place. Our form isn't serving the function we claim to have. How can you feel safe in such a huge gathering as Sunday morning? Why would you? What incentive is there to be vulnerable? I don't think I've talked to anyone - even in leadership - who really feels safe."

Sunday nights are a different form. But they also serve a different function. Do I feel safe there? Perhaps marginally. I meet God there. But all my connection is vertical, not horizontal. If I show my heart there it is because I know God has asked me to take that risk. I certainly wouldn't do it just of my own accord. It is smaller and people do tend to carve out space for themselves to individually meet with God and intercede. To be honest, I could do that at home and feel safer, though I know I would not be meeting with God on the same level. And, with apologies to Mike Bickle, it's actually not a format that EVERYONE can get a handle on. Some people just can't process with God with all that singing going on. What is life-giving to some is distracting and thoroughly frustrating to others.

And what of house groups? Are they intended to be the place of safety and community? Then why do house groups (gross generalization here - I have not been to all house groups) follow the same form as a Sunday morning? You come in, worship beside one another, listen to some teaching, and pray. Then everyone breathes a sigh of relief (to take from Adrian Plass - thanks, Jude) because we've finally gotten to the part we've all been waiting for: coffee, munchies, and the chance to get to know people and be known. Of course, this assumes that there are not such strong pre-existing relationships in the group that there is room for others. And it assumes that the group is either intentional in opening itself to new relationships, or that those who are new are extroverted enough to push their way in. And it assumes that people feel safe enough to even go into a small group where they don't know anyone.

My point? I question whether our "form" in all it's expressions is serving our "function". Sure, worship has a voice. Justice has an expression. Intercession is even finding more depth. But what of that safe community? What of the horizontal relationships that go hand in hand with the vertical? Is it time to make a shift in our paradigm about how our form serves our function?

PS: (Brian, stop lurking and say something!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sick kids and other bits

Good grief! I went to spell check this post and wound up losing it, so I'll see if I can remember what I said....

It's been awhile, so let me fill you in.

Last week Matt came down with a nasty stomach flu. He needed constant attention which meant that I got very little done, very little sleep, and very behind on my routines. Fortunately he's feeling much better now.

This weekend I managed to come down with the same bug. I'm starting to feel better now, but I couldn't really move from the couch yesterday, and Doug needed to be at the office. So, I had both the boys home with me. Sadly, that meant that Kelvin missed his picture day. We'd better not be sick for retakes! However, the boys played really well. They spent the day on video games mostly, and even handled their own toast for lunch once I got the stuff out for them. I only had to referee one fight, too! Ahhh.... I am SO done with the whole baby thing.....

But our illnesses pale in comparison to what Max is dealing with. Max is the seven-year-old son of my good friend and former roommate, Carol. The Drasaks live in Edmonton, and Max is fighting his second battle with cancer. This time it's a tumor behind his right eye. Please keep them in your prayers. You can get the whole story and updates on the family from their website.

Tonight we begin sessions of our support group for parents of kids with FASD. I've been going for the last few years, but Doug has decided that he is now ready to go, too, so it should be a bit different. It does mean that both the boys will be in childcare, which Matt has never really enjoyed. But we are bringing along the game boy so that he will have something he does like to do. Here's hoping it works!

Yesterday was Doug's birthday. With me being sick, though, we weren't able to do anything to celebrate. :(  We couldn't even go out for our date on Sunday because I was too busy tossing my cookies... *sigh* Oh well,... perhaps we'll manage to do something to celebrate our anniversary (Thursday). It is our 15th. Isn't there supposed to be something special about round numbers?