Photo by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash

Re-learning the weave of community

We’ve now had two weeks of not gathering here in Dunedin, NZ, due to covid-19. The main focus for Student Soul is now, How can we grow into an engaged, collaborative, online church community of students and young adults?

One important thing that the Sunday event (R.I.P) does is create multiple points of relational connection.

You brush past two or three people and say hi. You have discussion with someone beside you during the service, and maybe even a group of three or four, if space is made for that. You see some friends at the end and laugh together. You have a meaningful but mildly halting conversation with someone who you haven’t met before. You may experience a broad sense of belonging by sharing prayers, songs, engaged listening, creative responding with a whole group of people. Gatherings create relational weaves for each person who attends, which grow thicker and more inter-weaved over time.

Having lost the many of the mechanisms for that precious relational weaving in a shockingly sudden and disruptive event, the main question we now face is, What small moves can we make online to start to recreate the nurturing of that multi-faced connecting that used to happen in person? Two key parts of that quite long (sorry) sentence are 1) “small moves,” 2) “start.”

  1. “Small moves” means tactics. It means trying lots of little things. Different approaches, tools, organisational methods. There might be one hundred little things that contributed into the weave of in-person, real life, pre-covid19 gatherings. We are now rebuilding and stacking up new little things to contribute to a new way of weaving.
  2. “Start” means begin, and speaks of process. It doesn’t all have to happen straight away. This problem is not going away overnight. There is a long view and you might think marathon rather than sprint. The important thing is to start the process, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We are re-learning the weave of community. There is a lot of fast learning going on out there. It is quite amazing to see how communities all over NZ and all over the world are facing the same challenge, but who by diving in the deep-end are receiving valuable & supercharged learning through trial-and-error, as well as some successes, joys, positives, reasons to be hopeful.

I hope that whatever context you are in that you are able to find space to enjoy the experimentation. It is a good time for it… no-one is expecting perfection in this space. There is also no rush. Whatever you do will not be perfect straight away. But it can be hard to keep a clear, and easy to get lost in strategies, tactics, tools and tricks. My personal focus, and my main offering to you is to try to keep the main thing in mind.

What is the main thing in this weighty time? Creating connection.

I pray you would find imaginative ways to create thick weaves of connection in the communities that you are a part of. God bless.

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© Tom Mepham 2023