A Sketch of Our Community
The Wayfarers Chapel is simply a group of folks who believe our spiritual journeys affect all aspects of our lives. We desire to live together as best we can. But doesn’t everybody? The following is an attempt to share some of our basic assumptions on what this actually looks like for us and how the Wayfarers Chapel helps us do it:
Community is a word that has been so overused it barely means anything anymore… Yet, I think few of us are interested in the alternative of being isolated individuals. Our primary metaphor for our community is still that of family (despite the various negative experiences of “family” many of us have had). Ideally, your family is the people you don’t necessarily choose but are part of your life no matter what. In the good and in the bad, they will always be there so we figure out ways to make it work! True community is not safe or particularly voluntary, you can’t just opt out when it gets hard life gets too busy. It’s a lot like family. Another metaphor we use is being a people on a mission together. Think of an army platoon trying to take a hill. They become community because they have a clear goal to accomplish together. Our community desires to support and create people of character whose every neighbor, co-worker, family member, neighborhood, city, and world are better off for having been in contact with them.
What does this kind of community actually look like? Well, first it looks like commitment. You can’t just drop into an event and understand it. We commit to being together often. It looks like meals (lots of meals), serving our neighborhoods together, watching children, learning new things, playing games, camping, hiking, crying, and celebrating. It looks a lot like everyone else’s lives and communities, yet there are unique rhythms and profound relationships being formed here because we struggle to make this intentionally so. We invite you to experience this family with a mission…. Give us six months or a year; we’ll change how you understand the word community… And we suspect you’ll stick around for the long haul.
Almost no one will argue that service to others and volunteering/donating to aid the vulnerable aren’t valuable, but as much as we believe in the idea most of us are too busy and distracted to really make headway with the needs of those around us. Busy or not, we believe regular service to others is an absolutely essential element of both spiritual growth and living well. We volunteer at and partner with responsible service organizations (those showing measurable progress toward meeting their goals and who demonstrate financial responsibility with their donors’ money). Our community also tries to focus on creating new projects and putting our energy into unmet or under-resourced needs. Currently, we are focusing heavily on serving the urban poor, single parents, children, the homeless, local food deserts, and environmental stewardship. We know it’s ambitious for such a small community, but we see great needs and recognize that we can take on projects far beyond our capacity because we’re willing to invite people from our personal networks (friends, neighbors, co-workers, people from our Micro-communities, other worshipping communities, etc.) into serving alongside us. That said, we also recognize that most service is not about huge social justice projects, but about using our daily lives to serve. We are willing to be interrupted and available to needs in those around us. We are always looking for new places to serve if you see a need or have a real area of passion let us come alongside you and see how we might serve together!
Experience the Sacred
We believe that the world and our lives are utterly God-bathed and that experiences of the sacred can be found in nearly all experiences. However, we live distracted and busy lives and need to make intentional choices and rhythms to practice enjoying God’s presence in all circumstances. While Sunday night’s “Sacred Gathering” is an important hub for connecting with each other and God communally each week, we don’t believe this is the primary place for enjoying God or living out what we believe: this is experienced in our daily lives!
To practically live this out you will discover that we don’t do a lot of classroom style teaching, everything is always open to discussion: we all have things to teach and we all have things to learn! We encourage one another to create plans of growth based around time-honored spiritual practices (prayer, study, worship, practicing Sabbath, etc.) and natural healthy rhythms (times of work and play, times alone and times with community, etc.). For more on this, you are welcome to look at the Spiritual Practices Primer. To encourage these natural rhythms our community also follows some basic rhythms by devoting our summer season to more rest, service, outreach, and play while devoting our winter season to more internal practices like worship and discipleship. No one here is any kind of spiritual elite (we don’t believe there’s any such thing), but we believe that our community is full of people desiring to grow spiritually in our character, knowledge, and enjoyment of God, and healthy enjoyment of God’s blessings.
As mentioned above we believe that resting and enjoying life with others are important aspects of thriving. Our community does this in several distinct ways. One is by doing a lot of community organizing. We encourage all our members to spend time doing hobbies or activities that bring them true joy and to search for communities based around these activities. If these niche interests don’t already have communities being organized around them we encourage our community members to take the initiative in organizing them. We call these Micro-Communities and we’ve organized ongoing groups around tabletop games, goal setting, hiking, singing and writing songs, thrift store shopping, studying the Bible over meals, etc. Really the possibilities are endless. But we don’t just stop there, we also encourage our members to take responsibility for inviting these people into their homes and lives. Sometimes our community organizes larger events like Food Trucks in the Park, Easter Egg Hunts, and Neighborhood service projects, as well. Always our goal with community organizing is to provide the space to allow people to deepen as individuals and in all their relationships. This also looks like a lot of meals and time spent together no matter what the event starts out as. It involves hospitality and knowing people well, even if they are very different from us. In fact, in a time when many people only spend significant time with people who believe similar things to themselves (the so-called “silo effect”), we can confidently say we know and walk alongside a very diverse slice of humanity that we have met. Play is very much a foundation of our community and a non-negotiable for thriving spiritually.