church, community and huggles

church, community and huggles October 20, 2013
huggle cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Huggle” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

I believe in the the power of authentic community because I’ve experienced it and experience it still.

One of the church’s greatest potential assets is community. Of course, where we may most succeed is also where we may most fail. But I have experienced the power of authentic community in a church context, and really there’s nothing like it. I have heard of similar experiences in AA and similar 12-step programs, as well as other religious and interest groups. If you’ve experienced true community, you are spoiled for anything else. Right?

I am often misunderstood as someone who has been so damaged by the church that I have become its enemy. That is so not true! In fact, in the last church I pastored, a Vineyard church, I experienced a level of community so rare few people understand what I mean. It not only spoiled me for anything else, it also motivates me to continue talking about community and helping to create and support it wherever and whenever I can. I believe in it and wish more people could experience it. It is possible!

The Lasting Supper was launched last year simply as a resource for people transitioning spiritually. However, it very quickly turned into a community. With over 300 members so far, it is one of the most powerful experiences of community I have ever enjoyed. Even though it is online, we do have meet-ups and are even planning a big one in April, 2014, to meet in Las Vegas. These people have become my primary community. I want to know what love is. I do know what love is.

If you want to be a part of it, I invite you to join. You can check out a good sampling of all that goes on by clicking on this link. I will warmly welcome you, along with all the other friends there.

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  • Great article and smiley pic, David.

    I did some calculating for you:

    If a member of “The Lasting Supper” is exactly at the US poverty level for an individual ($11,720/yr), then the $7/month tithe for your community is only at about 0.7% — Far below the 10% demanded by some Churches! Or just skipping three StarBuck coffees a month.

    But question, David: In your bio you tell us:

    2010 I quit the ministry after years of struggle and frustration, as well as experiencing increasing hostility about my blog.

    But in this post you tell us:

    In fact, in the last church I pastored, a Vineyard church, I experienced a level of community so rare few people understand what I mean.

    So, how do those fit together?

    Was what made great community also what makes for high potential of years of struggle and frustration?

  • Actually Sabio I appreciate your comment because just yesterday, after receiving a sympathy letter from someone about being damaged, I decided I needed to update my bio. There were two realities at work:

    1. I certainly struggled, but it was mostly with my authorities as well as the few influential people who I confused with my struggles. I also struggled against the theological box I had to function within in order to stay and belong. It was a constant fight to explain myself which I found increasingly difficult to do.

    2. In the meantime though I enjoyed an authentic community almost all of the time. I had an amazing leadership team and a good foundation of support.

    However, when these two realities finally collided, that’s when I left. I could no longer live in that tension, and the congregation sadly realized this too.

    I’ll update my profile to make this more clear. Thanks!

  • Thanx David.

    (1) So part of my question is were those “theological boxes” which caused your struggle, also part of what made an intense community? Does the good need the bad? Is it unfortunately true that exclusive tribalism can give a great feeling of community?

    (2) We also have to be careful not to change our history to start and sound consistent – but I think that is all too common what the mind does. Take care in editing the story.

  • Yes! Absolutely! I do feel the intensity of my struggles encouraged the transparency of the struggles of others, which made the community so rich. But most minds can’t seem to put these together.

  • Al Cruise

    With you on this David. After many years of street ministry and running a fellowship service once a month for eight years I have seen what unconditional love can do. The effect of unconditional love in a community that is enlightened to receive it is an incredible thing to experience. When you are in such a community, all this religious bickering is just background noise. There are many people in communities like this all over the world and in all belief systems, most cases in spite of the belief system, it is in these communities that humanity will survive and thrive. I don’t what happens after death, but I am going to carry on down the path of unconditional love and real community for all, as long as I can breathe. I’ve seen the effect of it, that’s good enough for me.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    The best community is one that promotes a safe, not-harmful environment that allows one to truly be themselves.

  • klhayes

    This picture truly makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Not an easy task. Thanks!

  • 🙂

  • Gun Nordström

    This blog as well as The Lasting Supper are supporting resources for people transitioning spiritually. A very special community that I recently found online and which might be interesting for people visiting this blog is people-of-the-pond

    There I have got new views on many important issues by reading about

    A history of Creation part 1-5 and
    The manuscript of survival part 1-360

    The informations given there give a warm resonance in my heart and a lot of help in dayly life.