Lookout - it's one of those nights. I have arrived home from another Zion Wednesday exhausted, but too overwhelmed by joy and grace to keep it to myself. I'll back up a bit.
I am a 3/4 time solo pastor. That means, in order to do anything creative | outside the box | risky | new | growth-focused, I spend even more weekend and evening hours away from my family. It means I stretch myself a little thinner and have to put down things that others view as essential to my role. It means feeling like I'm a little crappier at life because there are more spinning plates in the air.
But Zion is all about trying new things and so am I, so we're constantly weighing and balancing this dilemma. It's messy and it's so, so fun. I am moved by our mistakes and our victories. I begin experiments convinced that I am crucial and, in the end, am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Village.
The Lyndale Community Dinner is a good thing. We feed 50 people every week. Most of them are regulars and need this intersection of community and nutrition, so it's a worthy investment. We could keep chugging away the way we've been doing and there would be plenty of worth to celebrate.
But while the status quo is fine, the potential is hard to ignore. Lyndale is a neighborhood ripe for pushing boundaries about community, gathering, and wellness. People involved believe that relationships should be about neighborliness instead of "us" serving "them". And so we urged each other to try something new this summer.
It meant wide dreaming and evening meetings and cheerleading and asking people to be involved with one more thing. But in the end, this is happening:
- Once a month, volunteers are hosting a Free Lemonade stand on a busy street just one block from the dinner. They're spreading the word and providing a local "happy hour" effect that helped us make two dozen new friends tonight. And three of those families wandered over for dinner.
- Local organizations have agreed to Adopt-a-Wednesday. They get to promote their presence in the neighborhood while helping with tables and chairs, serving and grilling. The buy-in is transforming this meal.
- I am a regular at the nearby Dollar Tree. A few plastic balls, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles cost $20. Tonight we had five times the number of kids we normally serve. They played together and hugged each other goodbye.
- Zion is a wide community with friends, members, and neighbors loitering on the edge of this mission. I believe the good stuff happens on the edge, so these are my favorite invitations. I'm already seeing young adults and quiet leaders take pride in what's happening on Wednesdays because they're part of this summer scheme.
- I hired someone. In January, I hired my friend Lee to be the dinner coordinator. He has all the gifts and people skills I wish I had. He's a community builder and natural equipper. He organizes wellness and education events in conjunction with the dinner. He networks in the neighborhood and dreams big about Lyndale working together even better than we already do. Tonight I got to watch him be in charge while I found quieter ways to help.