Can you imagine walking into Kilworth basement on a Tuesday night to a room of strangers, with Cody expecting you to explain and discuss your feelings about hell or controversial topics? No. No, no, no. There’s a reason we push so hard to make Lighthouse a true community rather than just a place to gather and worship once a week. There’s a reason we have chill nights, retreats, and Lighthouse family lunches. We strive to be a family. The conversations we have, and the emotional connections we create have to be prefaced by the familiarity of those around us.
I’m taking a religion class right now. The class is really boring. Straight up dull. No one participates in class discussions, the readings are from one academic perspective, and frankly, everyone is on Facebook or doing other homework. I’m really not sure if I like it or not, but the weirdest part for me is putting a logical, investigational view to something that’s generally pretty emotional and personal. I have never once shared in the class, because I don’t know people well enough to talk about how I feel about resurrection, or sin, or my own personal faith journey.
Last week, the professor approached the class and said, “I’m bored. How can we make this class better?” I was impressed – I don’t know if I’ve ever had a professor that’s willing to admit their class isn’t working, but also go to the students for suggestions. I raised my hand and mentioned that I didn’t know anyone in the class. I sit with two girls from my sorority, and stay pretty close to them at all times. I realized that the reason I hadn’t been participating in class is because talking about religion and personal religious experiences is an open, vulnerable thing! I am not going to open up, bare my soul, and all that jazz if I don’t have any relationships with ¾ of the class. After I mentioned to the professor that I would feel more comfortable participating in class if we at least tried to get to know each other, she required us to create name tags so that we could actually know each other’s names. While we’re not “bff”’s yet, things are starting to get a little easier, and a little more familiar. Today I actually spoke in class, so I would definitely call that an improvement.
I guess in a way, this religion class gives me perspective on what it would be like to be in a fellowship where friendship wasn’t the first priority. Lighthouse allows for spiritual growth through community and relationships, which could arguably be the most important spiritual growth to have. The knowledge and perspective I gain from fellow students through praying, discussion, singing, and in some cases, just drinking a cup of coffee in Diversions, has allowed my faith to skyrocket in the past 14 months at UPS. That’s what fellowship is about, right? Not sitting in a classroom, looking nervously at one another, waiting to see who is willing to talk first, but rather independently thinking, sharing, and building a community based around similar faiths and beliefs.