I just finished a week of ministry at Forest Home, a marvelous ministry in Southern California that shares Christ with thousands of families each year. I love these weeks of itinerant teaching; , sharing meals, and talking about family life, church life, and ministry with people from all over Southern California and Arizona. This is the kind of ministry that I did for years before settling in to life in Seattle as the pastor of Bethany Community Church.
There was a group of people at family camp this week that reminded me, once again, of the value of community. The folks in this picture are all of from San Diego. All week long I saw them together; at the pool together, eating together, sitting together in sessions, sitting together at the final fireside.
I learned that they’ve been investing in each other’s lives and marriages for a very long time. Now in their mid to late thirties, they’ve been forging deep bonds of friendship since their early twenties, including worshipping together at the same church. It shows. I don’t know them well, but I’ve a suspicion that in another decade their deep bonds and interdependency will have paid off richly – in their marriages, their children’s lives, and the lives of others around them. They keep showing up for each other, and each time they do, they’re adding a brick to the tower of strength that is their friendships. It’s already a fortress, and a blessed reminder of the value of community and friendship.
When they’re mentoring young couples in 2025, they’ll have a young couple over for supper and as they laugh, linger over the candles, and pour more drinks, the young couple will say, “we want these kinds of friendships with our peers. How do you do this?”
They’ll say, “Keep showing up for each other…for twenty years. There’s no other way.” And they’ll be right.
When I arrived in Seattle fifteen years ago, I moved into a deeply rooted community. I’d said, at the time, “teaching is teaching – it doesn’t matter if I’m in a church or at a conference. Nothing will change for me.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Church life has shown me (as was illustrated so beautifully this past week by this group, and others like them) that church life is so much more than teaching – it’s being there for each other – day after day. After all, we see Christ not just in the Bible, but in the body.
Thanks San Diego friends – for living out your commitment to each other so well. I’ll hope to surf with you in San Diego later this summer. And if you’re ever hungry for rain and clouds, we’ve a spare bed or two for you.